Once I had a very interesting lesson, one which I thought would be very boring but it turned out to be rather interesting…
I will be talking a bit about punctuation (you see why I thought it could be boring?), something we see and use every day but don’t pay a lot of attention to the actual why and how... Our biggest problem with punctuation is the way in which we communicate these days, we use text messages and very few of us use any punctuation at all. This creates very bad habits and when you need to sit down and write a letter or email, the use of punctuation becomes rather important!
I will only mention a few examples, there are many you can Google if you want more information.
One thing most English speakers use incorrectly is the comma, we either use too many or too few. Let’s take a look at the following sentence: My mother, who lives in Moscow, is coming to visit, and I cannot wait. The person is using commas too often, the sentence has too much detail and it should be split into two sentences. The word “and” is a good place to start a new sentence here. Correctly then: My mother, who lives in Moscow, is coming to visit. I cannot wait.
The following example bothers many people: The book is your’s. The book is John’s. There really should not be any confusion, the first sentence is incorrect (yours, not your’s) and the second one is correct. We do not need the apostrophe with “yours” as it already indicates possession but we do need the apostrophe with John’s to show that it is his book.
The next two examples I found rather interesting:
The 40-year-old man is riding a bicycle. We need to use the hyphen (-) to make our adjective appear as one word: 40-year-old. This happens when we join words to describe someone or something, in this case the age of the man is used as an adjective. However, please note that if the sentence construction was different we would not need the hyphen: The man is 40 years old.
The money — all ₽5000 — is in the drawer. Here we are using dashes, please note they look different from the hyphen, they are longer. We use the dashes to bookend interrupting information in a sentence.
I’ll only write about one more, it is time for me to have a piece of cake and a cup of coffee soon!
The following sentence pertains: Send him a message soon — i.e., in the next day or two. Most official writing guidelines will advise that you use a comma after an abbreviation even though it already has two periods. Remember the meaning of “i.e.” is “that is” and the meaning of “e.g.” is “for example”.
Well, enough of the punctuation rules... Have a great time until we speak again, and speak, speak, speak!