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The Exclamation Mark

16 Feb

The Exclamation
Mark

interjection, or command.

Use an exclamation point [ ! ] at the end of an emphatic declaration,

“No!” he yelled. “Do it now!”

An exclamation mark may be used to close questions that are meant to convey extreme emotion, as in

What on earth are you doing! Stop!

An exclamation mark can be inserted within parentheses to emphasize a word within a sentence.

We have some really(!) low-priced rugs on sale this week.

Note that there is no space between the last letter of the word so emphasized and the parentheses. This device should be used rarely, if ever, in formal text.

An exclamation mark will often accompany mimetically produced sounds, as in

“All night long, the dogs woof! in my neighbor’s yard” and

“The bear went Grr!, and I went left.”

If an exclamation mark is part of an italicized or underlined title, make sure that the exclamation mark is also italicized or underlined:

My favorite book is Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

(Do not add a period after such a sentence that ends with the title’s exclamation mark. The exclamation mark will also suffice to end the sentence.) If the exclamation mark is not part of a sentence-ending title, don’t italicize the exclamation mark:

I’ve asked you not to sing la Marseillaise!

In academic prose, an exclamation point is used rarely, if at all, and in newspaper writing the exclamation point is virtually nonexistent.

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The Exclamation Mark

16 Feb

The Exclamation
Mark

interjection, or command.

Use an exclamation point [ ! ] at the end of an emphatic declaration,

“No!” he yelled. “Do it now!”

An exclamation mark may be used to close questions that are meant to convey extreme emotion, as in

What on earth are you doing! Stop!

An exclamation mark can be inserted within parentheses to emphasize a word within a sentence.

We have some really(!) low-priced rugs on sale this week.

Note that there is no space between the last letter of the word so emphasized and the parentheses. This device should be used rarely, if ever, in formal text.

An exclamation mark will often accompany mimetically produced sounds, as in

“All night long, the dogs woof! in my neighbor’s yard” and

“The bear went Grr!, and I went left.”

If an exclamation mark is part of an italicized or underlined title, make sure that the exclamation mark is also italicized or underlined:

My favorite book is Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

(Do not add a period after such a sentence that ends with the title’s exclamation mark. The exclamation mark will also suffice to end the sentence.) If the exclamation mark is not part of a sentence-ending title, don’t italicize the exclamation mark:

I’ve asked you not to sing la Marseillaise!

In academic prose, an exclamation point is used rarely, if at all, and in newspaper writing the exclamation point is virtually nonexistent.

The Question Mark

16 Feb
Use a question mark [ ? ] at the end of a direct question. It is considered bad form to use a question mark in combination with other marks, although that is often done in informal prose in an attempt to convey complex tones: He told you what!? That combination (or similar combination) of punctuation marks is sometimes called an interrobang, but the interrobang currently has no role in academic prose.*

A tag question is a device used to turn a statement into a question. It nearly always consists of a pronoun, a helping verb, and sometimes the word not. Although it begins as a statement, the tag question prevails when it comes to the end-mark: use a question mark. Notice that when the statement is positive, the tag question is expressed in the negative; when the statement is negative, the tag question is positive. (There are a few exceptions to this, frequently expressing an element of surprise or sarcasm: “So you’ve made your first million, have you?” “Oh, that’s your plan, is it?”)

The following are more typical tag questions:He should quit smoking, shouldn’t he?
He shouldn’t have quit his diet, should he?
They’re not doing very well, are they?
He finished on time, didn’t he?
She does a beautiful job, doesn’t she?
Harold may come along, mightn’t he?
There were too many people on the dock, weren’t there?
(Be careful of this last one; it’s not “weren’t they?”)

Be careful not to put a question mark at the end of an indirect question.
The instructor asked the students what they were doing.
I asked my sister if she had a date.
I wonder if Cheney will run for vice president again.
I wonder whether Cheney will run again.

Be careful to distinguish between an indirect question (above), and a question that is embedded within a statement which we do want to end with a question mark.


We can get to Boston quicker, can’t we, if we take the interstate?
His question was, can we end this statement with a question mark?
She ended her remarks with a resounding why not?
I wonder: will Cheney run for office again?

Put a question mark at the end of a sentence that is, in fact, a direct question. (Sometimes writers will simply forget.) Rhetorical questions (asked when an answer is not really expected), by the way, are questions and deserve to end with a question mark:

How else should we end them, after all?
What if I said to you, “You’ve got a real problem here”? (Notice that the question mark here comes after the quotation mark and there is no period at the end of the statement.)

Sometimes a question will actually end with a series of brief questions. When that happens, especially when the brief questions are more or less follow-up questions to the main question, each of the little questions can begin with a lowercase letter and end with a question mark.

Who is responsible for executing the plan? the coach? the coaching staff? the players?

If a question mark is part of an italicized or underlined title, make sure that the question mark is also italicized:

My favorite book is Where Did He Go?

(Do not add a period after such a sentence that ends with the title’s question mark. The question mark will also suffice to end the sentence.) If the question mark is not part of a sentence-ending title, don’t italicize the question mark:

Did he sing the French national anthem, la Marseillaise?

When a question ends with an abbreviation, end the abbreviation with a period and then add the question mark.

Would everyone in the room who hasn’t received an ID card please move to the front of the line.

Didn’t he use to live in Washington, D.C.?
When a question constitutes a polite request, it is usually not followed by a question mark. This becomes more true as the request becomes longer and more complex:

The Exclamation Mark

16 Feb

The Exclamation
Mark

interjection, or command.

Use an exclamation point [ ! ] at the end of an emphatic declaration,

“No!” he yelled. “Do it now!”

An exclamation mark may be used to close questions that are meant to convey extreme emotion, as in

What on earth are you doing! Stop!

An exclamation mark can be inserted within parentheses to emphasize a word within a sentence.

We have some really(!) low-priced rugs on sale this week.

Note that there is no space between the last letter of the word so emphasized and the parentheses. This device should be used rarely, if ever, in formal text.

An exclamation mark will often accompany mimetically produced sounds, as in

“All night long, the dogs woof! in my neighbor’s yard” and

“The bear went Grr!, and I went left.”

If an exclamation mark is part of an italicized or underlined title, make sure that the exclamation mark is also italicized or underlined:

My favorite book is Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

(Do not add a period after such a sentence that ends with the title’s exclamation mark. The exclamation mark will also suffice to end the sentence.) If the exclamation mark is not part of a sentence-ending title, don’t italicize the exclamation mark:

I’ve asked you not to sing la Marseillaise!

In academic prose, an exclamation point is used rarely, if at all, and in newspaper writing the exclamation point is virtually nonexistent.

Colon Rules

16 Feb

Colon Rules
The following rules and examples will help you know when and where to use the colon as a punctuation mark.

  • Use a colon to signal the reader that a series of words, phrases, or clauses follows a complete sentence.
    The baseball coach claimed that the team’s success stemmed from four things: consistent hitting, solid pitching, good fielding, and excellent teamwork. The Greasy Spoon restaurant had several house specialties: a hot turkey sandwich, a roast pork dinner, a walleye platter, and a barbecued chicken wing basket.

  • Use a colon to signal the reader that a second complete sentence explains a closely related preceding sentence.
    The supervisor’s remark was straight to the point: I won’t tolerate workers who show up late. Religion and politics can be sensitive subjects: many people hold opinionated views and are easily offended by other peoples’ remarks.

  • Use a colon to signal the reader that a name or description follows a complete sentence when you want to put a lot of emphasis on that item.
    The local anglers had a nickname for the large muskie that had cruised the lake’s shoreline for years without being caught: Old Mossback. The preoccupied burglar didn’t notice who was standing right behind him: a smiling police officer.

  • Use a colon to introduce a long quotation after a complete sentence.
    In his book, Language is Sermonic, rhetorician Richard Weaver described how language may influence us:

    Sophistications of theory cannot obscure the truth that there are but three ways for language to affect us. It can move us toward what is good; it can move us toward what is evil; or it can, in hypothetical third place, fail to move us at all. (60)


  • Colons are also used… …to separate titles and subtitles:

    Richard Nixon: The Tarnished President

    …to express time:

    The accident occurred at approximately 1:45 p.m. on Tuesday.

    …to cite a law or Biblical passage:

    According to Minnesota statute 1:49:002, it is unlawful to feed licorice or peanut butter to goats.

    …to end a salutation:

    Dear Rachel:

    …to separate the place of publication and the publisher in a bibliographic entry:

    West, Gerald. How to Write Best Sellers. New York: Henry

    James Publishing, 1973.

Colon Rules

16 Feb

Colon Rules
The following rules and examples will help you know when and where to use the colon as a punctuation mark.

  • Use a colon to signal the reader that a series of words, phrases, or clauses follows a complete sentence.
    The baseball coach claimed that the team’s success stemmed from four things: consistent hitting, solid pitching, good fielding, and excellent teamwork. The Greasy Spoon restaurant had several house specialties: a hot turkey sandwich, a roast pork dinner, a walleye platter, and a barbecued chicken wing basket.

  • Use a colon to signal the reader that a second complete sentence explains a closely related preceding sentence.
    The supervisor’s remark was straight to the point: I won’t tolerate workers who show up late. Religion and politics can be sensitive subjects: many people hold opinionated views and are easily offended by other peoples’ remarks.

  • Use a colon to signal the reader that a name or description follows a complete sentence when you want to put a lot of emphasis on that item.
    The local anglers had a nickname for the large muskie that had cruised the lake’s shoreline for years without being caught: Old Mossback. The preoccupied burglar didn’t notice who was standing right behind him: a smiling police officer.

  • Use a colon to introduce a long quotation after a complete sentence.
    In his book, Language is Sermonic, rhetorician Richard Weaver described how language may influence us:

    Sophistications of theory cannot obscure the truth that there are but three ways for language to affect us. It can move us toward what is good; it can move us toward what is evil; or it can, in hypothetical third place, fail to move us at all. (60)


  • Colons are also used… …to separate titles and subtitles:

    Richard Nixon: The Tarnished President

    …to express time:

    The accident occurred at approximately 1:45 p.m. on Tuesday.

    …to cite a law or Biblical passage:

    According to Minnesota statute 1:49:002, it is unlawful to feed licorice or peanut butter to goats.

    …to end a salutation:

    Dear Rachel:

    …to separate the place of publication and the publisher in a bibliographic entry:

    West, Gerald. How to Write Best Sellers. New York: Henry

    James Publishing, 1973.

Colon Rules

16 Feb

Colon Rules
The following rules and examples will help you know when and where to use the colon as a punctuation mark.

  • Use a colon to signal the reader that a series of words, phrases, or clauses follows a complete sentence.
    The baseball coach claimed that the team’s success stemmed from four things: consistent hitting, solid pitching, good fielding, and excellent teamwork. The Greasy Spoon restaurant had several house specialties: a hot turkey sandwich, a roast pork dinner, a walleye platter, and a barbecued chicken wing basket.

  • Use a colon to signal the reader that a second complete sentence explains a closely related preceding sentence.
    The supervisor’s remark was straight to the point: I won’t tolerate workers who show up late. Religion and politics can be sensitive subjects: many people hold opinionated views and are easily offended by other peoples’ remarks.

  • Use a colon to signal the reader that a name or description follows a complete sentence when you want to put a lot of emphasis on that item.
    The local anglers had a nickname for the large muskie that had cruised the lake’s shoreline for years without being caught: Old Mossback. The preoccupied burglar didn’t notice who was standing right behind him: a smiling police officer.

  • Use a colon to introduce a long quotation after a complete sentence.
    In his book, Language is Sermonic, rhetorician Richard Weaver described how language may influence us:

    Sophistications of theory cannot obscure the truth that there are but three ways for language to affect us. It can move us toward what is good; it can move us toward what is evil; or it can, in hypothetical third place, fail to move us at all. (60)


  • Colons are also used… …to separate titles and subtitles:

    Richard Nixon: The Tarnished President

    …to express time:

    The accident occurred at approximately 1:45 p.m. on Tuesday.

    …to cite a law or Biblical passage:

    According to Minnesota statute 1:49:002, it is unlawful to feed licorice or peanut butter to goats.

    …to end a salutation:

    Dear Rachel:

    …to separate the place of publication and the publisher in a bibliographic entry:

    West, Gerald. How to Write Best Sellers. New York: Henry

    James Publishing, 1973.