Writing is more than just choosing the right words in the right order.
Punctuation is a powerful tool, and it is one of the most important aspects of the English language. The manner we communicate has the power to persuade people to do business with us or not.
“Punctuation is the system of symbols that we use to separate written sentences and parts of sentences and to make their meaning clear. Each symbol is called a “punctuation mark”.” (English Club)
The most commonly used punctuation marks in English are: the full stop/period, comma, question mark, exclamation mark, semicolon, colon, hyphen, dash, apostrophe, parenthesis, and ellipsis
In explaining the need for punctuation Russel Baker writes
“ When speaking aloud, you punctuate constantly — with body language. Your listener hears commas, dashes, question marks, exclamation points, and quotation marks as you shout, whisper, pause, wave your arms, roll your eyes, and wrinkle your brow. In writing, punctuation plays the role of body language. It helps readers hear the way you want to be heard.”
The importance of punctuation cannot be overemphasized especially in our increasingly digital age, where tweets, blogs, and emails can all be found with a single keystroke.
Punctuation marks help to convey the right message, it provides the reader with a clear understanding, poorly punctuated sentences are distracting and can also dilute your message which can cause it to be misinterpreted.
As seen in the example below
Commas save lives
Punctuation also helps make a good first impression. As dramatic as this sounds, we have all judged a business harshly or skipped an ad when we realize that a brand that is trying to take money out of our pockets or asking us to put our trust in them cannot even string together a sentence.
“You never get a second chance to make a first impression”
Properly punctuated sentences are very vital in all forms of communication because the way we communicate is as important as what we are saying, punctuations help set the tone of your correspondence as they help convey your emotions here is an example:
Person A: Wanna go see a movie?
Person B: Sure!
Person C: Sure
Person D: Sure…
Person B’s reply conveys excitement simply because of the exclamation mark! We can almost feel them jump for joy.
Person C without any punctuation marks sounds unsure as though they do not care if they made it or not.
Person D with the ellipsis could mean almost anything from “I don’t want to but I will show up”, “I’ll come if I don’t find anything better to do”, “I might, I might not”, to “you know whatever”. we can taste the indifference; zero excitement.
Punctuation lends a particular emphasis to communication as seen in the example above, the exclamation mark indicates strong emotions.
Therefore, whether used for quotation marks or periods at the end of sentences, punctuations are an important part of writing that should not be overlooked.