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Punctuation is a Waste of Time

For use with Talking Point worksheets

Moderator: TalkingPoint

Punctuation is a Waste of Time

Postby TalkingPoint » Sat Apr 24, 2004 4:50 am

Punctuation is a Waste of Time

Instructions: Read the text below to find the answers to the questions on your worksheet.

Rule 1

a) Use an apostrophe to express a possessive (when the noun is singular).

Example: The English teacher's brilliant jokes.
(The brilliant jokes of the English teacher - just one teacher)

b) Use an apostrophe to express a possessive (when the noun is plural).

Example: The English teachers' brilliant jokes.
(The brilliant jokes of the English teachers - more than one teacher)

c) Use an apostrophe to express a possessive (when the noun is an irregular plural).

Example: The children's English teacher made brilliant jokes.
(The English teacher of the children made brilliant jokes. Note: Children does not end in "s" but it is the plural of child even so.)

Rule 2

Use an apostrophe to express quantity of something (often time).

Example: The English teacher will tell us another joke in one weeks' time.
(How much time? One week.)

Rule 3

a) Use an apostrophe with contractions between two words.

Example: It's not easy to tell jokes well.
(It is not easy to tell jokes well.)

b) Use an apostrophe when you leave letters out in individual words.

Example: I can't tell such good jokes as my English teacher.
(I cannot tell such good jokes as my English teacher.)

These are just some of the rules covering the use of apostrophes, but they are the most useful ones for students. As far as the use of commas is concerned, the most important thing to remember is the difference between defining and non-defining clauses. For example:

a) The students who were interested in punctuation enjoyed the lesson.

b) The students, who were interested in punctuation, enjoyed the lesson.

The first sentence (defining) does not need commas. In this sentence only some of the students were interested in punctuation (shame!). In the second sentence (non-defining) we understand that all the students were interested in punctuation and consequently enjoyed the lesson (hurrah!).

Question marks are easy to use - we just put them at the end of questions, don't we? Well, yes and no. If we're talking about direct questions, then yes. But with indirect questions, no.

a) Are you fed up with studying punctuation?

b) She asked if we was fed up with studying punctuation. (no question mark)

Equally easy to use is the ellipsis (or the three dots). This can be used in two cases. Firstly, when words are left out of a quotation, and secondly when you want the sentence to fade out, leaving the end of it open to interpretation.

a) Oscar Wilde said of his diary, "One should always have something (...) to read on the train." (the word "sensational" has been omitted)

b) Is that it? Have we covered all the rules of punctuation? No, no, my friend. There are more. Many more...

Quick Quiz
Read the clues below and write the solutions on a piece of paper. Then take the first letter of each answer and rearrange them to find the hidden word connected with this Talking Point.
    1. "!": This punctuation sign is called an exclamation __________.

    2. Use an apostrophe with __________ between two words.

    3. Does this Talking Point cover all the rules of punctuation? No, there are __________.

    4. Use the ellipsis when you want to leave the end of the sentence __________ to interpretation.

    5. This Talking Point on Punctuation deals mainly with the uses of the __________.
Talking Point Homework, EnglishClub.com © Liz Regan 2004
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TalkingPoint
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