Punctuation and Capital Letters
When we speak, we do not go on speaking continuously and in the same tone. We pause while speaking. Even our pauses are not of the same duration. Some of them are short while some of them are pretty long. And sometimes we raise our voice while at others we lower it. We lend a particular quality of voice to the same words to convey a particular meaning. Marks of punctuation perform the same function as pauses and stresses perform in speech.
The main marks of punctuation are:
||( . )
||( , )
||( ; )
||( : )
||Mark of interrogation
||( ? )
||Mark of exclamation
||( ! )
||( ' )
||Quotation marks or inverted commas
||( " " )
The full stop ( . )
- We use a full stop to close a statement or a command:
Eggs are rich in protein. (Statement)
Bring a dozen eggs from the market. (Command)
- We use a full stop after initials or abbreviations:
Mr. D. B. Thapa : Miss Dhan Bahadur Thapa
P. M. : Prime Minister
- We use a full stop to indicate a decimal fraction:
The comma ( , )
The comma is the shortest pause. It is used
- to separate words in series:
Our new teacher is competent, expired and sincere.
* Note that before the last word, which is preceded by and, we have not used a comma.
- to separate phrases in series:
Standing or sitting, eating or drinking, sleeping or walking, he is always thinking of past.
- to separate phrases in series:
I do not know who he is, how he got in, or why he is here.
- to set off a noun of address:
Mother, may I have something to eat?
- to separate the parts of a date from one another or any words following the date:
October 19, 2008
On October 19, 2008, we shifted to our new house.
- to separate the parts of an address*:
Sultan Chand and sons,
Chandol, Bishalnagar, Kathmandu
- in a letter after the salutation and after the complimentary close*:
- to separateexpressions like "yes', 'no', 'oh' and 'well':
Yes, I will certainly come.
Oh, I haven't got that letter.
- to separate expressions that are in apposition:
Shri Gangadhar Dutta, the Chief Secretary was the chief guest.
- to separate a question tag from a statement:
This news is true, isn't it?
You weren't absent, were you?
- to separate a reported speech from the rest of the sentences:
He said, "We should learn from our mistakes."
- whenever a brief pause is needed to give greater clarity to our writing:
To prove my point, I produced a certificate.
The ay after, her grandmother expired.
The semicolon (;)
The semicolon is stronger than a comma but weaker than a full stop.
- It is used between independent clauses not connected by a conjunction:
Rosy is quite and hardworking; Ruchi is jovial and active.
- It is used before such expressions as 'however', 'then', 'moreover', 'never-theless', 'hence', 'thus', 'for instance', 'consequently', 'that is', 'therefore', if they come between independent independent clauses not connected by a conjunction:
Our Principal insists on strict discipline; therefore, I try to be very punctual.
You have already taken three days' leave; hence, you cannot be on leave tomorrow.
- It is used to separate clauses, particularly if the clauses have internal commas:
The family is going on a picnic; father carries the rugs; mother, the food; and the children, the rest of the things.
The colon (:)
The colon is used after a statement which introduces examples:
Pokhara has several places worth seeing: Bindyabasini Mandir, Phewa Tal, Golden temple of Varahi.
The mark of interrogation (?)
The mark of interrogation is placed at the end of an interrogative sentence:
Are you sure this news is true?
How old is he?
However, at the end of an indirect question, we use a full stop.
I want to know how old is he.
The mark of exlamation (!)
The mark of exclamation is placed at the end of an exclamatory sentence:
What an excellent idea!
The apostrophe (')
- To form the possessive of any singular noun, we add an apostrophe and 's' to the noun:
the girl's dress, Susmita's books, Sushant's bat
- To form the possessive of a plural noun ending in 's', we add only an apostrophe:
The boys' school, her teachers' influence, a ladies' tailor.
- To form the possessive of a plural noun that does not end in 's', we add an apostrophe and 's':
Children's programmes, men's clothes
- We use an apostrophe with expressions of time, space and money:
two weeks' holidays, a stone's throw
- We use an apostrophe to make short forms:
I'll (I will), it's (it is)
- We use an apostrophe to form the plurals of letters, figures, etc.:
two 5's, three M.A.'s, two a's
- We don't use the apostrophe with these words:
ours, yours, its, hers
The quotation marks or inverted commas (" ")
The quotation marks are used to set off the actual words used by a speaker:
Gopal said, "I want to become a lawyer when I grow up."
- Capital letters with proper nouns
(a) Capitalise the names of persons:
BhoochandraVaidya, Manisha Koirala
(b) Capitalise the name of the days of the week and of the months (but not the names of the seasons):
(c) Capitalise the names of religions and other words used with them:
Islam, the Bible, the Buddhists
(d) Capitalise the name of countries, nationalities, races, language and all adjective derived from them:
Nepal, Nepalese, the Germans
(e) Capitalise the name of schools, colleges, business houses, political parties:
Tender Buds School, Kathmandu University, Vardhman Silk Mills, The Nepali Congress
(f) Capitalise the names of buildings, the names of train and ships, brand names:
the Durbar Square, the Rajdhani Express, Maruti Suzuki
(g) Capitalise the names of special days, special events, festivals, etc.:
the Martyrs' Day, MagheSakranti
- Capitalise the first word of every sentence.
- The first word of each line of a poem often begins with a capital letter:
The sweetest thing that ever grew.
- The first word of a direct quotation is capitalised:
She said, "All my demands have been met."
- We capitalise the official names of government departments, the titles of high-ranking officials, etc.:
The Prime Minister, the Ministry of Finance
- We capitalise the pronoun I and all the words standing for God:
the Almighty, the blessings of God.
- While writing the titles of stories, essays, etc., we capitalise the first word, all the other words except articles, prepositions and conjunctions:
The Advantages of Rising Early.