It's an irony that punctuation is a very important aspect of written English, yet most of us tend to take it rather lightly. Punctuation gives meaning to the words and breathes life into them the same way as pauses and changes in tones of the voice do while speaking. A punctuation error can often completely change the intended meaning of a sentence or a phrase.
Sentences are the building blocks of written language and are complete statements. Punctuations make us understand how a sentence should be read, making their meaning clear. A sentence begins with a capital letter at the start, and ends with either a period, or an exclamation mark, or a question mark. This indicates that the sentence is complete. Given below are the most common punctuations that we use, or rather, should use in our everyday written conversation.
The Comma is used in a sentence to pause before proceeding, adding a phrase without any new subject, separating items on a list and for separating objectives, and for using more than one adjective.
A Period must be used to end a sentence, thereby indicating that a point has been made and you can move on to further explanations or a related point.
An exclamation mark indicates evocation of strong feelings in a sentence and is used for denoting fear, anger, love, and other similar emotions.
The question mark is used for indicating that a sentence is asking a question. It's always put at the end of a sentence.
Semi-colon, in general, is used to join two connected sentences, and for assembling detailed lists. It is one of the most difficult signs of punctuation to use accurately.
The colon denotes a pause between two phrases within a sentence. It is most commonly used within a heading or a descriptive title.
The apostrophe is used to indicate possession or ownership and also to indicate where a letter has been omitted.
Quotation marks are used either to mark out speech or while quoting somebody else's speech.
The hyphen is used for linking words together.
Brackets, which always come in pairs, help convey a point which does not form a part of the main flow of a sentence.
A lot of people ignore punctuation marks and many don't understand the purpose of using them in written English. Without punctuations, the meaning of a sentence or a paragraph cannot be understood clearly. It's important to use them to produce a good piece of writing, conveying the correct meaning.