Punctuation, in written language, the use of standard marks to clarify meaning. Punctuation marks are also used to help convey the emphases and breathing pauses natural to speech, to indicate sentence structure, and to enhance readability. Punctuation varies from language to language and preferences for specific marks vary from writer to writer, but, within any given text, consistency is stylistically favored. The contemporary trend is toward a minimum of punctuation, with clarity as the main criterion for use. The most common punctuation marks of modern English usage are the following.

Period (.)

Most sentences end with a period

Most sentences end with a period, which signals a strong pause. The mark is also used in decimals and after abbreviations that do not contain apostrophes.

Comma (,)

The comma

The comma, a versatile and often misused punctuation mark, indicates a light pause and is chiefly utilized to separate a structural unit of a sentence. Commas appear most frequently to set off principal clauses, parenthetical material closely related to the main thought, direct quotations, forms of direct address, coordinate adjectives, and words or numbers that would otherwise be confusing. Current usage favors the insertion of a comma only where a pause is intended.

Semicolon (;)

This mark represents a pause weaker than

This mark represents a pause weaker than a period but stronger than a comma. It is used chiefly between principal clauses and between components of a series, when the components are lengthy or already contain commas.

Punctuation 1 | Punctuation 2 | Punctuation 3 |

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