Punctuation often seems to be of minor importance to us. However, if we try to imagine the text without any punctuation marks, we will soon realize how important it is for the correct understanding of our ideas.
Thus, in order to create a really powerful essay, use this checklist to ensure correct punctuation:
- Use a question mark only at the end of a direct question; all indirect questions require a period at the end.
- Exclamation points can serve to different purposes: they either indicate an emotionally colored sentence, or make it stand out for emphatic purposes; however, using too many exclamation points can produce an impression similar to the one as if you were shouting.
- Hyphen is often used to link parts of compound words, but it is worth mentioning that not all compound words are hyphenated. In the modern American English hyphen tends to be used more and more seldom, so always check the correct form with a recent dictionary.
- Use apostrophe for contractions, but pay attention to the correct placement, as it is usually used instead of the omitted vowel.
- Use commas to join clauses of a compound sentence, to separate each item in a list when listing more than two items, to single out all forms of appositions, to single out the phrases in an unusual syntactic position and to set off all the parenthetic words and phrases.
- Use commas to separate non-defining relative clauses, which can be omitted without destroying the meaning of the sentence.
- Use commas to separate numbers of four and more digits, days, months and years in a date.
- Use comma with inverted commas to separate quoted matter from the rest of the sentence.