Punctuation Marks in Different Kind of Sentence

Punctuation at the end of the sentence

At the end of a declarative sentence — one-member or two-member — a full-stop (a period or a dot) is placed to denote fall of tone, completeness of the thought, and a pause. For example: “The voice dropped to a whisper”. “He swung round and walked down the road”.

At the end of an interrogative sentence, one-member or two-member – a question mark (an interrogation mark) is put to denote interrogation, request, surprise, rise or fall of tone, and a pause. For instance: “What are you talking about?” “A mutual affec­tion?”

At the end of an exclamatory sentence an exclamation mark is put to denote strong emotion (pain, surprise, delight; strict order), falling tone, completeness of the thought, and a pause: “It’s no good!”, “Silence in the court!”

At the end of an imperative sentence a full-stop is used to denote completeness of the thought, falling tone, and a pause, the mood of the verb expressing inducement, request, order: “Go ahead”. “Look”.

At the end of an incomplete sentence a dash is placed (sometimes two or three) to denote hesitation, faltering speech, incompleteness of the thought, and rising tone: “My brother is a soldier – “No fool like an – ”

At the end of a complete sentence – one-member or two-member – dots are often used to denote implication. The dots are placed before a full-stop or any other punctua­tion mark. For example: “Poor father: Not so big after all – and with no one to look after him … . And every day he had to work and was so tired to be a Mr. Macdonald ..”.


Punctuation in the simple sentence: the principal parts

There is no punctuation marks between the subject and the predicate, as they are closely connected, and demand no pause: “With his two very awkward par­cels he strode off to his train”.

Neither is there any punctuation mark between the subject and a compound or double predicate: “The sky shone pale”.

We can note when the predicative is expressed by an infinitive phrase, a comma sometimes precedes it to denote a pause and emphasis. For example: “The question was, how to get the pound a week”.

A complex subject, like a simple one, is usually not set off by any punctuation marks: “There is no use you staying out here to work the farm for Sam”.

A complex subject may have a detached character, so a comma is placed before it to denote a falling tone and a pause: “It’s made quite a difference, your being here”.

In an incomplete sentence, when the predicate or the link-verb is omitted, a comma is placed after the sub­ject to denote implication, a rising tone, and a pause: “I am fond of apples; he, of pears”.

If the predicate consists of two or more modal or auxiliary verbs, or several predicatives, a comma for commas divides them: “Tony must not, should not be ruined through her!”

The subject is often separated from the predicate by introductory words, detached parts of the sentence, de­tached or appended clauses, or by a participial construction, so these words, clauses, and constructions are enclosed in commas (brackets or dashes) to denote their parenthetical character and lowered tone. The same in case of an introductory clause. If an interjection comes between the principal parts, there may be an exclamation mark after it. For example: “Elisabeth Jane, though hungry, willingly postponed serv­ing herself”.

In contracted sentences with two subjects to one predicate there is no punctuation mark between the subjects, if they are connected by a conjunction; there is a comma, if the subject is repeated for emphasis (without a conjunction): “He and Jean wrote cheerfully from the East Coast”.

A contracted sentence containing three or more sub­jects has usually a conjunction before the last one. Commas are placed between the subjects. If a longer pause is neces­sary, or if commas come in between to mark off other parts of the sentence, there is a semicolon. Before the conjunction and before the predicate commas are put as well: “The sworn evidence of six Bolivian muleteers, testifying to the shooting and to its being unprovoked; Hubert’s coun­tering, statement, the exhibition of his scar, his record, and the evidence of Hallorsen, formed the material on which the magistrate was invited to come to his decision”.

The same rule applies to Russian, except that there are no commas before the conjunction or the predicate. If the conjunction is repeated, it is preceded by a comma.

When the subjects in a contracted sentence are in­troduced in pairs, these pairs are set off from each other by double commas: “Cries and confusion, the flashes and reports of pistol shots, and one loud groan, rang in my ears”.

Sometimes the second subject of a contracted sen­tence has a detached, explanatory character, so it is set off by a comma or double commas, in spite of the conjunction ‘and’: “Arguments arose, and shouted speculations”.

In contracted sentences with two or more predicates to one subject there is usually no punctuation mark between the predicates if they are connected by the conjunctions ‘and’, ‘or’, ‘either… or’, ‘as well as’, ‘neither … nor’. If they are joined by the conjunctions ‘but’, ‘nor’, there is a comma between the pred­icates. For example: “His daughter sits down and opens a parcel of photographs”.

If the first predicate of a contracted sentence has dependent words of its own after it, there is usually a com­ma before the conjunction ‘and’ to denote isolation: “He raises his shoe to unlace it, and catches sight of the slippers”.

When a contracted sentence has no conjunction, a comma is placed between the predicates to denote a short pause and enumeration of connected actions. The same in case of a repeated predicate (or a part of the predicate) used for emphasis.

The last predicate is, in most cases, preceded by a con­junction, before which a comma may be put or omitted: “He never talked, never inquired, never suggested”.

In case of a longer pause and weaker connection, there is a semicolon between the predicates of long contracted sentences. Also, when there is already a comma in the sen­tence: “She sweeps a litter of disarranged papers out of the way; snatches a sheet of paper from her stationary case, and tries to write. At the third time she gives it up; flings down her pen; grips the table angrily and exclaims”.