Usage of Punctuation Marks in Academic Writing

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  • Topic: Punctuation, Colon, Sentence
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  • Published : December 10, 2010
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Usage of punctuation marks in academic writing
These are symbols which indicate the organisation in written language, structure and the intonation to be observed in a sentence when it is read aloud. In the written English, It has been necessary to eliminate the ambiguity existing in a sentence. For this reason, punctuation marks have been in used to bring out the intended meaning of a sentence rather than the variations that can be gotten from it. The punctuation practice had not been embraced in fully but not long after printing was invented, many of these marks have been added till to date. As of now, the number of the punctuation marks has reached fourteen, but many are yet to be added with time and their relevance of use in the written language. Body

The comma is denoted by the mark (,) and is more or less the same to the apostrophe except the area of placement where it is normally situated at the base of the text line. This mark has many uses depending on the different situation that the user might find appropriate. It is mostly used when one wants to separate elements or ideas that happen to appear in series (three elements or more) in a sentence, including the furthermost two elements appearing at the end as explained by Michael (57). Example: He grabbed the little child, raised an alarm, and ran for their lives. In this example, the second comma is known as a serial comma. The second use of a comma is when it is used together with a conjunction to connect two clauses. This is employed when there is a need to separate two independent clause and doing it with a coordinating conjunction is felt to be not enough. Example: He was summoned by his master, but harkened to the voice of his co-worker instead. Sometimes, the connection made by the coordinating conjunction is balanced nicely and so there is no need to use the comma for the separation. E.g. He was summoned by his master but harkened to the voice of his work mate instead. It has also been used as a counter balance between parenthetical elements. Example: The Panama Canal, used to link the two opposite water masses, was built long before most of us were born. It is used also at the beginning of introductory elements. Example: “Having eaten with pigs for quite some good time, the prodigal son realized that his father at home was still wealthy. In this example, one can omit the comma but if only will not result in a confusing statement or slight hesitation in reading. Another use is that it has often been used when we want to separate coordinate adjectives in a sentence. Example: That short, handsome, brown young man is our class representative. This mark has also found another use especially when one wants to set off quoted elements. It is a general rule used every time when one is quoting words or statements uttered by somebody. Example: Jonathan was the one who spoke in the last conference; he let us know of his commitment to it when he said, “I would rather die than live to experience this happen to me. I will fight to the bitter end…” or it can be used in this manner also. “The answer is,” said Joan, “I cannot access it now.” Commas can also be used when setting off phrases which show contrast. Example: Atheists believe at the end of time there will be peace and order, not burning brimstone fire. Another use is when one wants to avoid confusion int the message he/she intend to pass across. This is shown in the following examples: (a) Outside the hotel was painted in a beautiful pattern. And (b) Outside, the hotel was painted in a beautiful pattern. Apart from these, comma has mostly been used when one is writing a letter especially in the salutation part. E.g. Dear Sir/Madame. This has been the format ever since in many of the letters. Lastly, it has been used in the ideas and elements separation in a sentence structure. Example: He wants to buy some shoes: blue canvas, black leather, and brown...
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