Learn Punctuation: period, exclamation mark, question mark
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Learn Punctuation: period, exclamation mark, question mark

Hi. Welcome to www.engvid.com again. My name’s Adam.
Today, I’m responding to some requests for punctuation lessons. So, today’s lesson
is about punctuation. I’m going to focus on the period, the exclamation mark, and the question mark.
Now, you’re thinking: why am I beginning with these three? Because these are
the ends of sentences. Right? These always come at a very specific point in the sentence,
always at the end, always with a clear purpose. What is the purpose? A period ends a sentence.
Seems simple enough, everybody knows this. Correct? But it’s not that simple. Many, many
times I’ve seen students writing and not putting the period in the correct place. What… Another thing you have to remember about the
period is what comes after it is always a capital letter. Okay? Many people forget the
capital after a period. A period ends a sentence which means it ends a complete idea. Whatever
comes after the period is already a new idea. Of course, one idea flows to the next idea;
one idea builds on the previous idea, but they are two separate ideas. When you have
completed your sentence, when you have completed your idea – put a period. And British people
call this: “a full stop”. Same idea, means: full stop, done, next idea. Okay? With a capital letter.
Always don’t forget the capital letter. Or never forget the capital letter. Okay? Another thing to remember about the period is
that once you have a sentence with a complete independent clause and you don’t have another
independent clause with a conjunction, “and”, “but”, “so”, “or”, etcetera or a semi-colon-this
is a semi-colon-that means your sentence is finished. If you have two independent clauses in
a sentence and you don’t have the conjunction, you don’t have the semi-colon, means you have
a run-on sentence. Okay? A “run-on sentence” is a sentence that has two subjects, two verbs,
no spacing, no conjunction, no period. Okay? Let’s look at an example of a run-on sentence.
“Stacey and Claire went shopping at the mall with Ted and Alex they bought new clothes.”
Does this sentence seem okay to you? If it does, there’s a problem. Okay? We have “Stacey
and Claire” as your subject-sorry, this is a “v” actually-“went shopping at the mall”. Where?
“With Ted and Alex”. With who? This is a complete idea. “Stacey and Claire went
shopping at the mall with Ted and Alex.” Your idea is complete, this is what they did. Now, at the mall, what did they do? “They
bought new clothes.” I put a period, I put a capital. I have to separate ideas, therefore,
two separate sentences. Now, is there any other way I can fix this? Of course. I can
put a comma after: “Alex,” I could put the word: “and they bought”, in which case, that
sentence is fine. “And” joins two independent. So, every time you’re writing… Punctuation,
of course, is for writing, not for speaking; we don’t see punctuation in speaking. Every
time you write, check your sentences. If you have two independent clauses, means two subject,
subject, verb, and then subject, verb. If you have two of these, two combinations of
subject and verb without a period between them, without a conjunction, without a
semi-colon – you have a run-on sentence. Okay? Just to make sure, here’s another sentence.
I’ll take this away. Something came before. “As a result,” -of whatever came before-“the
police evacuated the tenants of the building they thought this would be safer.” Oh.
“The tenants of the building they thought this would be safer.” Wait a minute. What’s going on?
Where does the sentence end? Where does the idea end? What’s the next part of the sentence?
Okay? “The police evacuated”. Who? “The tenants”. Which tenants? “Of the building”.
Okay? “The building they thought this”, no. Okay, “The building that they thought
this”, no, doesn’t make sense. So this must be the next subject, “they thought”. Who are “they”?
The police. “They thought”. What? “This would be safer.” So now, I need to put
something here. I need to break up these two sentences because they’re two separate ideas.
This sentence explains why they did the action in the first sentence. So, how can I do it? One way, I could put the period.
Put a period, the idea ends, it’s complete. I’m going to the next idea, beginning
with a capital “T” for “They”. Another way I can do is put this. I’m not… Don’t worry
about a semi-colon today; I’ll explain that another time. But this is one other way to
split up two sentences, “; they thought”, because it’s a direct connection, “; they
thought this would be safer.” Another way is to put “because”. “Because they thought
this would be safer.” “This” being evacuated the tenants. Right? The situation. Okay, so
there are three ways you can fix this. Okay? So you don’t have a run-on sentence. So that’s the whole idea of the period. Make
sure when your idea is complete, when your independent clause is complete and finished,
and you’re starting a new independent clause, put a period to finish the first one. The reader
understands: “Okay, this idea is finished. I’m getting ready. Okay, give me the next idea.
I’m ready for that.” Okay? Or join them. Okay? To get one full compound sentence which
we’ll talk about another time as well. Let’s look at the exclamation mark. Okay? Okay,
so now we’re going to look at the exclamation mark and the question mark. The thing to remember
about these: they work just like the period, meaning that they end the sentence, they end the idea.
Question mark I think is pretty clear; everybody knows this. There must be a
question involved. We’re going to look at that in one second. Let’s look at the exclamation mark, it’s short
and sweet, to the point. An exclamation mark shows emotion. Okay? It could be shock, surprise, etcetera.
Could be anger or it could be a command. “Stop!” We use an exclamation mark;
it’s a very strong expression. Subject “you”, verb “stop”. “Stop!” Now, sometimes we can use
an exclamation mark with a question mark. It’s called an interrobang, but you don’t
need to worry about that word. I just like to say it, interrobang,
sounds kind of neat. “Why are you doing this to me!?” I’m showing…
I’m showing emotion; I’m a little bit angry, a little bit upset, but I’m also asking you a question.
Like: “Why are you doing this?”, “Why are you doing this to me!?” Angry, shocked.
Anyway, you get the point. Now, the thing about the exclamation mark is
that you should rarely use it. Many students, many native, non-native English users, they
like to use an exclamation mark. They think every time they’re making a strong sentence,
they need to show that it’s a strong sentence, but you don’t. If you write a clear sentence,
a very direct statement – that’s enough. You can use this, but make sure that it is necessary
in that situation. Even novelists, creative writers who have to show emotion in their
writing, even they rarely use exclamation marks. And when you do use it, it’s that much
more powerful. Okay? So try not to use it. Especially in academic writing, you have no
reason to use it. Okay? You’re not showing emotion in academic writing. In more creative
writing, you can use it, but sparingly. Means not very often. “Wow!” Okay, put an exclamation mark.
But at the end of a sentence, a period works just as well. Now, the thing about a question mark: make
sure there’s a question. Okay? Let’s look at this example here: “What
happened last night?” This is a question. First of all, if you hear
it, it goes up at the end. You’re asking a question: “What happened last night?” “What happened last night
should not have happened.” Okay? So be careful. This, what we have here…
What is this? This is a noun clause, this is the whole thing is the subject to the verb:
“should not have happened”. Okay? Make sure that you understand. Even if it looks like
a question, make sure there is actually a question there. How do you know there’s a question? The subject
and verb will be inverted. Right? As in here: “Are you coming?” This is a question. The
verb comes before the subject and there’s going to be a question. So
let’s look at this sentence: “Are you coming to the Party at
Linda’s house, it’ll be fun.” Okay? If I’m speaking, maybe the question
mark, you might not hear it because I want to stress this point more. But is there a
question here: “Are you coming to the party at Linda’s house”? Yes. So this, again, is
what we call a run-on sentence. I don’t want a comma here, I want the question mark. There’s a
question, the sentence is pretty much finished. Interrogative sentence, it’s a question, but
it’s still a sentence. And here, I want the capital “I”: “It will be fun. Are you coming to the party?
Come, come. It’ll be fun.” Right? Two separate ideas, each
has its own punctuation. So there you have it. Period, exclamation mark,
question mark for punctuation, for writing. If you’re not clear about all of this, come
to www.engvid.com; there’s a quiz, you can practice this a little bit more and ask all the
questions you need. Okay? See you again soon.


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