leeds english language school logo

English Reading Punctuation

When you are reading, it is important to pay attention to the punctuation marks that are used as they can change the meaning of a sentence.

Here is a table with some common punctuation marks and a brief explanation of their use:

.full stopUsed to end a sentence.
,commaDivides some types of sentence into clauses. Follows some discourse markers e.g. however, at first etc. Can be used before some conjunctions in the middle of a sentence such as ‘and’.
;semi-colonSeparates two clauses which are closely related in meaning. Can separate clauses which form part of a list.
:colonOften used before a list of clauses.
?question markUsed at the end of a question.
!exclamation markUsed after orders or warnings in direct speech.
inverted commas (also known as speech marks)Inverted commas show that what is written has been directly spoken by someone.

How does punctuation change meaning?

Here are some more examples of how changing the punctuation can completely change the meaning…

  •  1

a.  When I sing well, ladies feel sick.

(My good singing makes ladies feel sick)

b.  When I sing, well ladies feel sick.

(My singing makes healthy ladies feel unwell)

  • 2

a.  Watch out – man eating apes!

(the man eats apes)

b.  Watch out – man-eating apes!

(the apes eat men)

  • 3

a.  We order merchandise and sell the products.

(We do 2 things)

b.  We order, merchandise and sell the products.

(We do 3 things)

  • 4

a.  You will be required to work twenty four-hour shifts.

(You work for a short time)

b.  You will be required to work twenty-four-hour shifts.

(You work for a very long time)

Thank you for reading, we hope you found this post useful!
This content was sourced from: http://www.future-perfect.co.uk/grammar-tip/fun-with-punctuation/

Translate »