Mechanics of Writing 2
- The hyphen (-)
- Quotation marks (“ ”)
- Dash (-)
- Parentheses/ Brackets (( ))
With the dawn of the Internet, the birth of Internet slang, and the growing age of SMS, many individuals are forgetting the fundamental aspects of English punctuation. You use punctuation marks to structure and organize your writing. In the speech, we have a variety of devices for clarifying our meaning: stress, intonation, rhythm, pauses, and hand or body movements. In text, we have only the words and the punctuation; and poor punctuation enables the same words to have different or unclear meanings. Thus, Punctuation is, in part, an attempt to capture in writing the emphasis we are able to deliver orally. Additionally, punctuation is a tool we use to organize word arrangements to facilitate readability. There are clear rules for the use of punctuation marks and they are not difficult to learn and apply. This lesson, “Mechanics of Writing 2” brings out some of the very important aspects of punctuation.
Makes sure you go through our lesson on Mechanics of Writing 1 for a better understanding of this one, “Mechanics of Writing 2”
The apostrophe is used to indicate possession. The apostrophe is also used to indicate that a word is a contraction or that a letter or letters have been omitted from a contracted word.
- This is Veronica’s bracelet.
- This is not James’ handwriting.
In the first sentence above the (‘s) is added to the name Veronica to indicate possession. In the second sentence, the name James ends with the letter (s). Therefore, an (‘) is added after the (s) to indicate that possession is being addressed.
Fowler and Franklin’s testimony impressed the court.
The sentence above has a compound subject, the names of two people. Possession is indicated; the brief belongs to Fowler and Franklin. Note that only the proper noun nearer or nearest to the verb acquires the (‘).
Richard’s and Spike’s automobiles were stolen last night.
The sentence above could be rewritten as follows. Richard’s automobile was stolen last night, and Spike’s automobile was stolen last night. In the sentence above Fowler and Franklin jointly own the brief that impressed the court. In the sentence about Richard and Spike separate ownership is indicated. Consequently, an apostrophe is used with each name.
- The Attorney General’s report is devastating.
- The Attorneys’ General report is devastating.
Attorney General is the title of an officeholder. Each state has an attorney general. In the first example, one attorney general has written a report. In the second example, several attorneys general have collaborated to write a report.
you’re (you are)
it’s (it is)
Some American English speakers often drop the final (g) on words ending with ing. A written replication of the failure to enunciate the final (g) is accomplished with an apostrophe.
Just a Singin’ in the Rain (1950s musical)
I’m goin’ swimmin’.
I’ve been drivin’ all night.
The correct spelling of some names incorporates an apostrophe.
O’Malley (person’s name)
O’Brien (person’s name)
O’Connor (person’s name)
The hyphen (-)
Some English words or terms are customarily hyphenated. Some examples are given below. If you are uncertain whether a term should be hyphenated, consult your dictionary.
son-in-law twenty-one one-third anti-American president-elect
It is also used to write the numbers twenty-one through ninety-nine.
Quotation marks (“ ”)
They enclose a speaker’s exact words (word verbatim) and certain titles.
“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”
The quotation above is the opening sentence of President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, November 19, 1863.
A quotation usually requires attribution, i.e., identification of the author or the source. Attribution is an important part of a quotation.
Quotation marks may be used to identify the title of an article that appears in a journal. The following representation is fictional.
Have you read “We will Die One Day” in the July issue of Norman’s Tribune?
It is used to indicate a sudden change in thought.
You will become – if you stay focused – a very successful student in your generation.
The slash mark is used as a separator. One common use of the slash is shown below.
You may enroll in History and/or Geography.
The slash mark in the sentence above provides a shortened method of saying: You may enroll in History and Geography, or you may enroll in Geography.
The Sycamore Apartment Community amenities include washer/dryer connections.
Parentheses/ Brackets (( ))
Parentheses are used to enclose dates or numbers and can be used to set off explanatory material.
The term parse is currently (Circa 2003) enjoying popularity among computer programmers.
If a speaker utters the above sentence, the listener understands the date represented by the word currently.
Parentheses are used in the excerpt below to enclose the dates representing the life span of René Descartes.
“. . . from philosopher, René Descartes (1569-1650), and. . . .”
A parenthesis (singular) may be used to set off a number.
Select one of the following classes and enter your choice: 1) History of Modern Europe, 2) History of England, or 3) History of Medieval Europe.
Parentheses may be used to enclose numbers.
Summer Travel Choices
- Upper case letters are used in the following cases:
- The first letter of the first word in a sentence: The ball is in the basket.
- Proper nouns: My name is John.
- Proper adjectives: I like Nigerian films.
- Initial capitals for important words in titles: Story Line With Jefferson
- The personal pronoun I is capitalized wherever it appears in a sentence: When I met him, I danced.
- Geographical names: The South, Mount Everest, Northwest Region, etc
- Names of organizations: African Union, World Health Organization
- Names of religious bodies: The Christian Churches
- Names of Government bodies and institutions: The National Assembly, the Ministry of Higher Education
- Titles attached to surnames: Mr., Mrs., Dr., Reverend, Captain
- Historical events/periods: The Middle Ages, the American War of Independence, The Age Of Discoveries
- Business enterprises: Walmart Supermarket, Amour Mezam Express.
Mechanics of Writing 2
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