Why are the Punctuation Marks Important in Speech and Writing while Teaching Elementary Students ?

Introduction: Encouraging children to study punctuation can be a difficult task. Sometimes homework and studying can be a negative idea and immediately turns the child away. To help students not only learn, but desire to study, teachers and parents can refer to the ideas listed below. These are just some of the things you and your student can do to help improve study punctuation habits.  Read More Teaching English (TEFL) 

 If a student is having trouble concentrating in a particular place, or even time, try a different setting. Some students may like peace and quiet while studying and others may want a mentor nearby in case they have questions or concerns.
  •  Remember all students learn things differently.
  • Encourage students to study in groups and to ask lots of questions to receive input from peers.
  • Set aside one on one time and have them ask you questions. Ask lots of questions in return to ensure the best education.
While speaking, we observe some pauses at some points and adjust the tone of our voices to achieve different ends. In writing, these processes are indicated by some marks. These are called punctuation marks. Thus, punctuation marks are those symbols that indicate the manner in which the voice is adjusted to make communication meaningful. The appropriate, or otherwise, use of punctuation marks could affect the meaning of our speech. This is why it is important for us to master the various ways these punctuation marks should be used. They are not just marks meant to adorn our speech. There are specific rules guiding their use. Read More Teaching English (TEFL) 

Punctuation marks are signs such as periods, commas and question marks.
Full stop or period (.)
The full stop is used for the following purposes.
Put a period at the end of a sentence to signal the end of a sentence.
Example: Timothy lent me her skateboard.
 Take it easy.
To indicate abbreviation: Example: etc.  Oct. e.g. a.m. p.m.
However, in some of the examples above, full stop is optional.
In Internet and email addresses.
 Example: http://www.ardhendude.blogspot.com

Question Mark (?)

Write a question mark at the end of a question, instead of a period.
This mark is used in the following ways.
To indicate the end of a direct question:
Example: What have you prepared?
Can we meet tonight?
 To express doubt, particularly with a date:
Geoffrey Chaucer (1343?-1400)

 Exclamation Mark (!)

It is used at the end of a sentence that shows a strong feeling such as surprise or fear. An exclamation point is used instead of a period.
What a silly thing to do! Help! A monster!
You’re completely wrong! What a shame!
Exclamation points are usually used after interjections.
People often use just one or two words to express a sudden feeling such as fear, happiness, surprise or anger, or in greeting somebody. These short expressions are called interjections. Here are some examples:
Hello! Ouch!
Good morning! Hurray!

 Comma (,)

Put a comma between items in a list.
Example: You need paper, scissors and glue.
She likes reading, swimming, playing basketball and going to the movies.
Put a comma after yes and no.
“Do you like football?” “Yes, I like it very much.”
“Is this your house?” “Yes, it is.”
You also put a comma before or after the name of the person you are speaking to.
Hello, Mr. Carter.
Miss Lee, can I borrow a pencil, please?
Commas are used before please and thank you.
Could you pass me that pencil, please?
I’ve had enough to eat, thank you. Read More Teaching English (TEFL) 
The comma is used for the following functions.
To separate a tag question from the other parts of the sentence.
Example: She is ready, isn’t she?
To separate phrase or clauses:
Example: Having redeemed his battered image, he decided to run for the presidency.
To separate long main clauses linked by a conjunction such as but, and, or, for, as.
Example: We thought all of them would come to receive us, but only their
leader came.
To separate an introductory expression that applies to the entire sentence.
Example: For now, we can’t accept you.
To separate a non-defining phrase or clause from the rest of the sentence:
Example: The man, who nearly died because of her, has left her finally.

  Tapan, our faithful friend, gets married next week.
 To separate short quotation from the rest of the sentence:
Example: The pastor said, “Do your best and leave the rest”.
To separate written conversation from the other parts of the sentence; it could come before or after ‘said’ or any reporting verb:
Example: “See me immediately,” she shouted.

Colon (:)

The colon is used in the following ways.
To introduce a list of items.
Example: The following people are performing today: Amit, Aritra, and Abhay.
 According to Sunday (2011:1403-1404):
  To introduce a phrase or clause that gives more information about the main clause:
Example: The woman is dejected: she needs a companion.

Semicolon (;)

The semicolon is used to separate parts of a sentence that already contains comma:
Example: Listen to this: watch, pray and help others; take care of your health; and eat sleep, and play well.

Apostrophe (’)

This mark is used in the following manners:
To indicate letters or figures that have been omitted:
Example: Can’t (Cannot)
It is used with s to indicate possession:
Example: My daughter’s friend.
 Sometimes, with s to form the plural of a figure, an abbreviation, or a letter:
Example: in the 1960’s/1960s

Hyphen (-)

It is used in the following ways.
To form a compound from a prefix and a proper name:
Example: Anti-Christ
To form a compound from two or more words:
Example: half-hearted, open-ended, easy-going, hot-tempered, father-in-law
To write compound numbers between 21 and 99 words:
forty-four, seventy-nine, one hundred and sixty-two, one million, two thousand, five hundred and eight-one.
Used after the first part of a word that is divided between one line and the next:
We should not be in a hurry to leave this place; so let us be ready to misconstrue issues.
 To separate a prefix ending in vowel from a word beginning with the same vowel:
  co-ordinate,. co-operative,  pre-eminence

Dash (–)

The dash is used for the following purposes.
 It is used to separate a comment or an afterthought from the rest of the sentence.
  Driving carefully – which is a necessary for safety – should not be taken lightly.
  It is also used in informal discourses, instead of a colon or semicolon, to show the summary of what has gone before. Read More Teaching English (TEFL) 
Nobody passed – they all failed.
b. We have money – we can sponsor you.
c. I got the award today – I am a victor.
d. He doesn’t respect anybody – he is arrogant.
e. Carry out a thorough investigation – the initial report may be wrong.

Quotation marks (“”/ ‘’)

It is used in the following ways.
To enclose words and punctuation in direct speech:
a. “What is your problem?” he asked.
b. “If I don’t come, what will happen?” he inquired
c. “I won’t do it,” he vowed.
d. “I know the way,” he said.
e. “I will repent later,” she promised.
To enclose the titles of articles, songs, poems, short stories, etc.
a. J.P. Clark’s “Abiku”
b. Wole Soyinka’s “Telephone Conversation”
c. He wrote, “Now is our time.”
d. I like Ebenezer Obey’s “Womanhood.”
e. I know “I believe I can fly.”
To draw attention to a word being used in a special way:
a. We want our share of the “national cake”.
b. He is looking for “orijo.”
c. I know her “source.”
d. Seun is not ready for that “gift”
e. Many people have “caring” leaders.
To enclose short quotation and saying:
a. The man said “tough times never last.”
b. He assured us that “the sky is not our limit.”
c. I now know that “when the going is good, you will have
many friends.”

Dots/ Ellipsis (…)

It is used to indicate omission from a quotation or conversation.
a. …no controversy.
b. Do it if….
c. We honoured them but….
d. She can read it… we are ready
e. Today history is made… our president has confessed to his offences…. 
This mark is used to separate alternative words or phrases:
a. You and/or your friend
b. He/she must be cruel.
c. Male/Female
d. Present/Absent
e. Yes/No
To separate the different elements in Internet and email addresses:


These are used in the following ways.
i. To separate extra information or a comment from the rest of a sentence:
a. NTA Ibadan (first television station in Africa) is crying for attention.
b. Cocoa House (the highest building in Ibadan) is a masterpiece.
c. He feels that Nigerian young politicians (those born after 1960) are incompetent.
To enclose numbers or letters in a text:
The winners are (i) Aishee, (ii) Asoke and (iii) Abir.
To enclose cross-references.
The law is unambiguous on this (see Section 2.4)

Square Brackets ([ ])

(i)This punctuation mark is used to enclose words inserted to make a
quotation grammatically correct:
In [those] areas, watch what you do ….
It is also used in referencing to insert authorial intrusion or
additional information.
According to Lucas (2002:119-120),
“Printed materials [books in particular] in libraries are superior to the
Internet in many ways.”


It is used to indicate emphasis
I will come but you will stay.
It is also used to indicate title of books, magazine, newspapers, films, paintings, operas, etc. Read More Teaching English (TEFL) 
Shakespeare’s Hamlet.
The Guardian.

It is also employed to indicate foreign words:
a. He does have Yoga everyday.
b. Ebo are kept there every Friday.

Conclusion: Good paragraphing, coupled with good use of punctuation marks, facilitates easy understanding of a speech. A good paragraphing pattern can be achieved through good outlining and close monitoring of the presentation of points. 

Ardhendu De 


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