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Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English
punctuation mark
▪ Rather it was a fiery punctuation mark, a coal-like comma, or salamander semicolon, in a continuing story.
▪ Hyphens Hyphens, perhaps the most creative punctuation marks, join two or more words to create a single word.
▪ The recognition system was also extended to allow punctuation marks, digits and other non-alphabetic characters in certain situations.
▪ Baghdad's Babil daily put the punctuation marks above published excerpts from a U.S.
▪ He snorted quietly: an unemotional noise; a punctuation mark.
▪ Most people make mistakes, especially with punctuation marks.
▪ Each punctuation mark is put into a flashing mode, and another graphic character replaces each word.
▪ In addition, the program tallies the number of punctuation marks and calculates the average space between them.
▪ Moreover, written sentences can use punctuation as a way of indicating structure, and so can more easily manage complex constructions.
▪ The drafter must therefore take care to use punctuation clearly and accurately.
▪ We never write words without using punctuation to form them into well-defined sentences.
▪ But decisions about exactly when to use each type of punctuation vary from writer to writer.
▪ Active verbs, numerical values, abbreviations and punctuation are to be avoided.
▪ Baghdad's Babil daily put the punctuation marks above published excerpts from a U.S.
▪ Checking for punctuation and small mistakes cutting the pieces.
▪ Credit will be given for the appropriate use of complex sentences, punctuation and vocabulary, and for grammatical accuracy.
▪ Reading is much more than letter-by-letter decoding; writing is much more than spelling and punctuation.
▪ She made four mistakes in grammar, capitalization and punctuation.
▪ The most obvious difference between quotation and paraphrase in these examples is the punctuation which separates a quotation from the surrounding material.
▪ The recognition system was also extended to allow punctuation marks, digits and other non-alphabetic characters in certain situations.
The Collaborative International Dictionary

Punctuation \Punc`tu*a"tion\, n. [Cf. F. ponctuation.] (Gram.) The act or art of punctuating or pointing a writing or discourse; the art or mode of dividing literary composition into sentences, and members of a sentence, by means of points, so as to elucidate the author's meaning.

Note: Punctuation, as the term is usually understood, is chiefly performed with four points: the period [.], the colon [:], the semicolon [;], and the comma [,]. Other points used in writing and printing, partly rhetorical and partly grammatical, are the note of interrogation [?], the note of exclamation [!], the parentheses [()], the dash [
--], and brackets []. It was not until the 16th century that an approach was made to the present system of punctuation by the Manutii of Venice. With Caxton, oblique strokes took the place of commas and periods.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

1530s, "pointing of the psalms," from Medieval Latin punctuationem (nominative punctuatio) "a marking with points," noun of action from past participle stem of punctuare "to mark with points or dots," from Latin punctus "a prick" (see point (n.)). Meaning "system of inserting pauses in written matter" is recorded from 1660s.\n\n[P]unctuation is cold notation; it is not frustrated speech; it is typographic code.

[Robert Bringhurst, "The Elements of Typographic Style," 2004]


n. 1 A set of symbols and marks which are used to clarify meaning in text by separating strings of words into clauses, phrases and sentences. 2 An act of punctuate.

  1. n. something that makes repeated and regular interruptions or divisions

  2. the marks used to clarify meaning by indicating separation of words into sentences and clauses and phrases [syn: punctuation mark]

  3. the use of certain marks to clarify meaning of written material by grouping words grammatically into sentences and clauses and phrases


Punctuation is "the use of spacing, conventional signs, and certain typographical devices as aids to the understanding and the correct reading, both silently and aloud, of handwritten and printed texts." Another description is: "The practice, action, or system of inserting points or other small marks into texts, in order to aid interpretation; division of text into sentences, clauses, etc., by means of such marks."

In written English, punctuation is vital to disambiguate the meaning of sentences. For example: "woman, without her man, is nothing" (emphasizing the importance of men), and "woman: without her, man is nothing" (emphasizing the importance of women) have very different meanings; as do "eats shoots and leaves" (which means the subject consumes plant growths) and " eats, shoots, and leaves" (which means the subject eats first, then fires a weapon, and then leaves the scene). The sharp differences in meaning are produced by the simple differences in punctuation within the example pairs, especially the latter.

The rules of punctuation vary with language, location, register and time and are constantly evolving. Certain aspects of punctuation are stylistic and are thus the author's (or editor's) choice, or tachygraphic language forms, such as those used in online chat and text messages.

Usage examples of "punctuation".

The sudden appearance of a figure shift would abruptly convert a literal cryptogram into one of numbers and punctuation marks.

Most of his changes in punctuation and textual emendations have been adopted in the present edition, and attention is called to them in the notes.

Murray and Goold Brown laid down cast-iron rules for punctuation, but most of them have been broken long since and thrown into the junk-heap of disuse.

Write poems, which in this culture means at least being able to lineate prose, adding odd punctuation as required.

Bordering the brick patio were planting beds lush with nandina and a variety of ferns, plus bromeliads and anthuriums to provide a punctuation of red blooms.

With frequent punctuation by Lockhart and Grenier, Shreve led us through a much more congenial version of the academic staff relationships than we had been treated to during the one-on-one interviews.

All that night the sprawly writing on the pages, the constant mistakes in spelling and grammar, and the weird punctuation danced before his eyes.

Such a list of legitimate apostrophe jobs certainly brings home to us the imbalance of responsibility that exists in the world of punctuation.

Jinking bats, now three in number, frolicked in their aerial feast, and the paper-fragile exoskeleton of each doomed moth made a faint but audible crunch when snapped in those rodent teeth: entire death announcements in crisp strokes of exclamatory punctuation.

The speech begins with two quatrains, marked at the transitions by end punctuation.

In the family of punctuation, where the full stop is daddy and the comma is mummy, and the semicolon quietly practises the piano with crossed hands, the exclamation mark is the big attention-deficit brother who gets overexcited and breaks things and laughs too loudly.

Mona Woolner wrote a syndicated newspaper column on English usage in which she found fault with the grammar, spelling, and punctuation of everybody from the Bard of Avon to the Royal family of Great Britain.

This good-humored billingsgate is largely monotonous and not significant, mere verbal punctuation of a sort, and its appearance in print annoys some readers.

At the far end of the room, the crazy, zany lords of the copydesk were spending the last minutes of deadline gloomily searching stories for punctuation and grammar mistakes that would no doubt cheer them up.

Once he had surrendered the sense and punctuation of the phrases, the Kabbalist would find that the entire Torah literally merged into a combination of divine Names.