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A Guide To Punctuation


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Punctuation is Powerful!


A valuable guide on how to implement punctuation


I noticed how many posts have weak/no punctuation. For example:"hello ,mate" or "hello,mate" or "I am here.Where are you?"

So I decided to make a guide to proper punctuation.

Below is an example (an old joke, actually) of how strong punctuation can be:



An English professor wrote the words: "A woman without her man is nothing" on the board and asked his students to punctuate it correctly.


All of the males in the class wrote: "A woman, without her man, is nothing."



All the females in the class wrote: "A woman: without her, man is nothing."


As you can see, both sentences use the same words but have different meanings, just because of punctuation.


#1. Apostrophe (,)

History of the Apostrophe:


he apostrophe was introduced into English in the sixteenth century in imitation of French practice.

French practice

Introduced by Geoffroy Tory, the apostrophe was used in place of a vowel letter to indicate elision (as in l'heure in place of la heure). It was frequently used in place of letter e when no actual vowel sound was elided (as in un' heure). Modern French orthography has restored the spelling une heure.

The Apostrophe is used:

1)To Show Contractions: it's (It is) O'clock (On the Clock)

2)To Show Ownership: My car's color is blue.(singular) The cars' color is blue. (plural- If the final word in the phrase does end in an “s,” then s’ ( s apostrophe) is used. (i.e. cars’ ))

3)To Show Shared Ownership: Mike, Ruslana and Lazlow's radio stations are popular.


#2. Brackets

History of Brackets:


The chevron was the earliest type to appear in written English. Desiderius Erasmus coined the term lunula to refer to the rounded parentheses (), recalling the round shape of the moon.

There are different types of Brackets:

( ) — round brackets, open brackets, brackets, or parentheses

[ ] — square brackets, closed brackets, or brackets (US)

{ } — curly brackets, definite brackets, swirly brackets, birdie brackets, Scottish brackets, squirrelly brackets, braces, gullwings, fancy brackets, or squiggly brackets

< > — inequality signs, or brokets

These are used to enclose words and phrases independent (or for the parentheses dependent) of the sentence.


#3. Colon ( : )

Before we start: Don't confuse this colon with the colon your doctor talks about wink.gif

History of the Colon:


English colon is from Latin colon (plural cola), itself from Greek κῶλον "limb, member, portion", in rhetoric or prosody especially a part or section of a sentence or a rhythmical period of an utterance. In palaeography, a colon is a clause or group of clauses written as a line. The OED cites William Blades' The life and typography of W. Caxton (1882), p. 126: "The Greek grammarians called a complete sentence a period, a limb was a colon, and a clause a comma."

The colon is used:

1) For A list:"You must buy: Milk and eggs!"

2) To show a quotation:"Experts often possess more data than judgment.-Colin Powel"

3) As a greeting:"Dear Sir:"

4) To show time:"13:40""1:40"


#4. Semi-colon ( ; )

AKA: The most feared punctuation mark.

History of the Semi-colon:


he Italian printer Aldus Manutius the Elder established the practice of using the semicolon to separate words of opposed meaning and to indicate interdependent statements."The first printed semicolon was the work of ... Aldus Manutius" in 1494. The earliest general use of the semicolon in English was in 1591; Ben Jonson was the first notable English writer to use it systematically.

One could use a comma in the following sentences but a comma separating these thoughts would not provide a distinct enough pause.

1) Instead of conjunctions:

It was the first of April; all the spring lines were on display.

2) Before "For instance" and "For Example":

Grand Theft Auto is a very violent game; for example the player can kill innocent pedestrians for fun.


#5. Comma (,)

My personal favorite.

History of the Comma:


In the 3rd century BC, Aristophanes of Byzantium invented a system of single dots (distinctiones) that separated verses (colometry) and indicated the amount of breath needed to complete each fragment of text when reading aloud. The different lengths were signified by a dot at the bottom, middle, or top of the line. For a short passage (a komma), a media distinctio dot was placed mid-level ( · ). This is the origin of the concept of a comma, though the name came to be used for the mark itself instead of the clause it separated.

The mark used today is descended from a diagonal slash, or virgula suspensiva ( / ), used from the 13th to 17th centuries to represent a pause, notably by Aldus Manutius.

Commas are used to create a pause that will let the reader "soak in" the meaning of the last part of the sentence before moving on to the next part. NOTE: Always put a space after a comma!!!

The Comma is used to:

a) Separate the day and month from the year: August 11, 2011.

b) To separate all items of a list except for the last item: I will buy milk, rice and Bacon.

c) To separate the title from the name: Barack Obama, president of the US, ...


#6. Period (.)

I think we can ignore the fact that this (.) looks like a... forget it. tounge2.gif (Always put a space after a period.)

History of the period:


Not found (sorry)

The period is used to:

a) End a Sentence: I hope you enjoy this guide.

b) After initials: I.B.M or George W. Bush.


#7. Question Mark (?)

History of the question mark:


According to a 2011 discovery by a Cambridge manuscript expert, Syriac was the first language to use a question mark in the form of a vertical double dot. Lynne Truss attributes an early form of the question mark to Alcuin of York. Truss describes the punctus interrogativus of the late 8th century as "a lightning flash, striking from right to left". (The punctuation system of Aelius Donatus, current through the Early Middle Ages, used only simple dots at various heights.)

This earliest question mark was a decoration of one of these dots, with the "lightning flash" perhaps meant to denote intonation (or a tilde or titlo, named after the Latin word titulus, as in “ ·~ ”, like those wavy and more or less slanted marks used in lots of medieval texts for denoting various things such as abbreviations, and that would become later various diacritics or ligatures or modified letters used in the Latin script), and perhaps associated with early musical notation like neumes. Over the next three centuries this pitch-defining element (if it ever existed) seems to have been forgotten, so that the Alcuinesque stroke-over-dot sign (with the stroke sometimes slightly curved) is often seen indifferently at the end of clauses, whether they embody a question or not.

In the early 13th century, when the growth of communities of scholars (universities) in Paris and other major cities led to an expansion and streamlining of the book-production trade, punctuation was rationalised by assigning Alcuin's stroke-over-dot specifically to interrogatives; by this time the stroke was more sharply curved and can easily be recognised as the modern question-mark.

The symbol is also sometimes thought to originate from the Latin quaestiō (that is, qvaestio), meaning "question", which was abbreviated during the Middle Ages to Qo. The uppercase Q was written above the lowercase o, and this mark was transformed into the modern symbol. However, evidence of the actual use of the Q-over-o notation in medieval manuscripts is lacking; if anything, medieval forms of the upper component seem to be evolving towards the q-shape rather than away from it.

user posted image

The question mark is used to indicate a question or interrogative sentence. (Always put a space after a question mark.)


I hope you enjoy this guide and like it, and I also hope you learned a thing or two. Feedback would be appreciated colgate.gif

These aren't all the punctuation marks but these are the ones that are suitable for an internet forum. After all, we are an internet forum.

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