Sentence Construction 101: Punctuation Tips You Should Know About
Possessing language skills is crucial in this changing world. In order to express yourself and provide clear communication, knowing how to use grammar and construct sentences are a must. But for some people, this is still a challenging task. The good thing is that language skills such as reading, writing, speaking, listening, and producing can all be learned through time, especially one’s articulation in constructing sentences.
The use of punctuation is deemed important in sentence construction, as it can either instill pauses or create emphasis on certain ideas. When expressing your ideas and thoughts, using punctuations can contribute to concise delivery, but make sure that you’re using them appropriately through these punctuation tips that you should know about:
Use em dashes to replace parentheses in bringing focus to a list of examples.
The versatility that em dashes offer is incredible. If you want to express something, em dashes are probably sitting just right there waiting to be used. However, most people encounter using em dashes in an excessive and inappropriate way. One great way to use em dashes is when putting emphasis on a list of ideas without the use of parentheses. Examples of this can be found here: em dash examples.
A list of ideas can be interconnected to a clause to indicate that the examples are something that the writer has collectively listed. Punctuations aren’t only used for the writer’s convenience to express ideas more comprehensively, but help readers process ideas better. Em dashes collect two or more ideas and shift focus into one for the reader’s sake of comprehension.
Avoid lengthy sentences with periods.
Admit it – huge chunks of paragraphs and lengthy sentences bore you out, but you shouldn’t feel guilty about it. Your brain will have a difficult time processing a large chunk of ideas, like how your digestive system struggles to digest a huge piece of food that you could’ve chewed in smaller pieces. This is when full stops, or periods, come in handy.
Periods are a reader’s best friend that helps in understanding every type of text. Instead of writing three thoughts into one sentence, break them down into two sentences as there’s no limit to using periods.
Know the difference between colons and semi-colons.
Though colons and semicolons almost look alike, you should be careful in using them as they mean two different things. Colons are used when providing a pause before introducing associated ideas, a list of items, and even to define something.
On the other hand, semicolons unite two independent clauses to create a longer sentence. Though these two independent clauses can be written as two separate sentences, the use of semicolon establishes a better relationship between them.
Always identify abbreviations when using it for the first time.
Abbreviations save the time of re-spelling words that are used repeatedly in a text, as well as saving space for more ideas. When using an abbreviation for the first time in your selection, especially unestablished abbreviations that readers might not understand immediately, identify and spell them out first. In succeeding uses of these words, you can then abbreviate them. Examples of these are abbreviations of scientific terms, jargon words, or names of institutions and organizations.
However, you can directly use abbreviations in standardizes style guides such as name titles and degrees, as they’re already established abbreviations that would only mean one thing. If you think that an abbreviation will form confusion, make sure to spell them out first.
Observe the proper use of apostrophes (only in possessions and contractions).
Apostrophes are important punctuation that are often neglected and misused, but their uses are pretty simple. Use apostrophes only when expressing possessions and contracting words, but never use it in writing plural words. To be more specific, here are some tips for using apostrophes:
- Use apostrophe followed by an ‘s’ in expressing singular possession, even if the noun ends in ‘s’ as well. (e.g. school’s, Michael’s, Cortes’)
- Use apostrophe only on the last noun if two or more nouns share ownership. (e.g. my mom and dad’s)
- When dealing with contractions, replace removed letters with an apostrophe. (e.g. would not to wouldn’t, cannot to can’t, have not to haven’t)
- Never use an apostrophe with possessive pronouns such as its, yours, his, hers, theirs, and whose.
Re-read your writing and revise it if necessary.
As the last tip in dealing with punctuation, always read your work before publication. If ideas aren’t making any sense, it can be a problem with the punctuation, grammar, or style of writing, so revise it accordingly until it becomes easier to comprehend. Review the punctuation tips above in case you’ve missed small details. Lastly, make sure that every kind of reader or audience can understand your ideas, or at least, get a good glimpse of it.
Sentence construction can be the most difficult part of writing as this is where you start from scratch. Guided with proper punctuation, use of words, idea transitions, and rapport with your readers, you’ll be able to deliver your work in the most articulate and comprehensible way. These tips mentioned above will definitely up your writing game and serve as a stepping stone for improving your writing skills.
By Charlie Pianka
Charlie is a full-time blogger who strives to help newbies enter the blogging industry. Charlie regularly publishes content that can help his readers start their own blogs, find their niches, and stand out from the competition. When Charlie is not busy writing, he spends time playing with his pets and reading different types of blogs to update his knowledge.