Punctuation and Capitals Rules, Examples, Exercises

Compare the following :

John says Smith is a fool. 2. ‘John’, says Smith, ‘is a fool.’

From these sentences it is clear that stop may alter the sense of a sentence. Punctuation means the right use of such stops.

The principal stops are:

1. Full stop (•)
2. Comma (,)
3. Semicolon (;)
4. Colon (“”)
5. Note of Interrogation (?)
6. Note of Exclamation (!)
7. Inverted Commas (‘ ‘)
(” “)

The Full Stop

The Full Stop or Period represents the longest pause. It is used :

  1. To mark the end of an Assertive or imperative Sentences; as,
    Honesty is the best policy.
    Shut the door.
  2. In place of parenthesis after a letter or number denoting a series; as,
    a. Bread well baked. b. Meat cooked rare.
  3. To Separate integers from decimals in a single expression; as, 49.2 per cent, 3.96 metres.

The Comma

The Comma marks the shortest pause. It is used—

  1. To mark off words in apposition; as,
    Alexander, the conqueror of the world, began to weep.
  2. To mark off the nominative of address’, as,
    O King I am thy humblle servant.
    I tell you Madam, I have read it,
  3. To separate two or more parts of speech that come together; as,
    Health, wealth, prudently, and honestly.
    NOTE: Nowadays a Comma is generally ommitted before and.
  4. After an absolute construction; as,
    The sun having set, they returned home. Having done his work, he went to bed.
  5. Before and after a Participial Phrase, provided that the Participle might be expanded into a sentence, and is not used in a merely qualifying sense; as,
    The King, having defeated his enemies, returned to his country.
  6. To separate each pair of words of the same class or kind; as,
    Rich and poor, high and low, young and old, all must die.
  7. To separate words, phrases or clauses inserted into the body of a sen­tence; as,
    She did not, however, succeed in the examination.
    Health is, after all, the most important thing.
    Her behaviour, to say the least, was extremely rude.
  8. To avoid the repetition of a Verb; as
    Shanta is a Sindhi; Tarabai, a Bengali.
    Ali received a watch; Hari, a book.
  9. To separate a Subordinate Adverb Clause from the rest of the sentence;
    If you have tears, prepare to shed them now.
    When you are ready, we shall start.
  10. To separate short Co-ordinate Clauses of a Compound Sentence; as I came, I saw, I conquered.
    Men may come, and men may go, but I go on for ever.
  11. To marie off a direct quotation from the rest of the sentence; as,
    “Try, and try again,” said the teacher.
    He said to us, “Wait and watch.” –

The Semicolon

The Semicolon represents a pause greater than that indicated by the It is used—

  1. To separate the clauses of a Compound Sentence, if they contain com­mas; as,
    As Caesar loved me, I weep for him; as he was fortunate, I rejoice at it; as he was yaliant, I honour him.
  2. To separate a series of loosely connected clauses; as,
    Reading makes a full man; speaking tf feady man; writing an exact man.

The Colon

The Colon represents a pause still longer than that indicated by the It is used—

  1. Before enumeration; as,
    The three great books are : the Ramayana, the Mahabharata, and the Gita.
  2. To introduce a quotation It is often followed by Dash (—); as,
    Shakespeare says :— “Sweet are the uses of adversity.”

The Note Of Interrogation

The Note or Interrogation is used to mark direct questions; it should not be used in Indirect Speech.

What is wrong with you?
She said, “Who is there?”
But—      I asked her what her name was.

The Note Of Exclamation

The Note or Exclamation is used after Inteq’ections, Exclamatory Phrases and Exclamatory Sentences; as,

Alas! Bravo! Ah! Oh Hear!

What luck! How it rains! Well done!

Inverted Commas

Inverted Commas or Quotation Marks are used to mark the exact words of a speaker, or a quotation; as,

Shakespeare says, “Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.” She said, ‘I am guilty.’

The Use of Capital Letters

A Capital Letter is used—

  1. To begin a sentence; as,
    Work hard. Fish(es) swim. We know the way.
  2. To begin each fresh line of poetry; as,
    Youth is lull of pleasure,
    Age is full of cares.
  3. To begin all Proper Nouns and Adjectives formed from them; as,
    December, Saturday, Mumbai, the Germans, the Chinese troops, the English language, the Turkish tobacco.
  4. For all Nouns and Pronouns which indicate God. O God, Thou art merciful.
  5. To write the Pronoun I and the Inteijection O.

Miscellaneous Examples

Study carefully the following examples :

  1. spring while we are writing is here the winds blow gently the birds the flowers and the buds all proclaim the coming of spring
    Punctuated Passage: Spring, while we are writing, is here. The winds blow gently. The birds, the flowers, and buds all proclaim the coming of Spring.
  2. the sun has set the moon has risen the stars have come out and night has arrived declared the Hermit
    Punctuated Passage: “The sun has set, the moon has risen, the stars have come out and night has arrived,” declared the Hermit.
  3. he said why do you come here and disturb me what a nuisance you are why can’t you play somewhere else can you not see that I want to work go away at once and do not come here again
    Punctuated Passage: He said, “Why do you come here and disturb me? What a nuisance you arc! Why can’t you play somewhere else? Can you not see that I want to work? Go away at once and do not come here again.”
  4. o friend said Ashok will you help me in this my hour of sore need yes said very gladly and even if I have to ran to the other end of the world
    Punctuated Passage: “O friend,” said Ashok, “Will you help me in this my hour of sore need?” “Yes.” said 1. “very gladly and even if I have to run to the other end of the world.”
  5. he said to me please take your seat here oh how glad I am to see you why do you look so sad, is there anything I can do for you, you can certainly count upon me I need not assure you
    Punctuated Passage: He said to me, “Please take your scat here. Oh! How glad I am to see you! Why do you look so sad? Is there anything I can do for you? You can certainly count upon me, I need not assure * you.”

Exercise 1: Rewrite these sentences, using Punctuation Marks and Capital Letters where required.

  1. John said i am in a hurry and cant spare time
  2. seema said what is the time mother is it time for me to go to school yet
  3. madam he said i must ask you to come with me your luggage will be taken care of
  4. she said hari looks terrible is he ill
  5. oh thats all right rama replied cheerfully give us a start lalaji I shant complain if it comes to nothing
  6. pathik was furious he cried if you dont get down this minute ill thrash you
  7. ashwani said where is the clock who took it from my bedroom have you taken it down to the kitchen
  8. what an easy paper said ashok it was set by a kind examiner
  9. on tuesday the prime minister of afghanistan reaches india
  10. on Christmas day uncle george gave smith a ten-shilling note
  11. large crowds gathered outside the red fort to see queen elizabeth
  12. india celebrates independence day on 15th august every year
  13. about the time when jahangir the mughal emperor was ruling over india a king named james the first reigned in england                                               ‘
  14. the statue of liberty was presented to the united states of america by the people of france                                                                                                    ‘
  15. marshal compares and contrasts the indus valley civilization with those of egypt and mesopotamia
  16. oh tom tom his mother would cry what is to become of you i really : dont know
  17. I am sorry I interrupted you replied the judge please do go on with your explanation of the error                                                                                          ’
  18. sir said the lamb you surely see the water flows from you to me how can i then make the water muddy
  19. nelson when he lay dying was heard to say i have done my duty england expects every man to do his duty
  20. they were wounded they were exhausted they were short of provisions they were half dead with cold night coming on

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