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Ch. 03 TERMINAL PUNCTUATION MARKS

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    52325
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    10.jpg

    Terminal punctuation is used at the end of a sentence or question. Terminal = at the end. [Image: Anthony Indraus | Unsplash]

    DEFINITIONS TO REMEMBER:

    Periods: Use only after a subject + verb.
    If you have been taught to add a period when your words seem conclusives or when you intend a longer pause, remember that we are learning to watch for the simple math. Just as a math teacher would not instruct you to add a “3” when it feels right, do not rely on subjective feelings for the structure of language either. Instead watch for the math: subject + verb = sentence.

    Question Marks: Use only after a question, and often with the components reversed to verb + subject.
    Whether you have a direct question or a rhetorical question, use a question mark in place of a period. If you have an indirect question that is actually part of a statement, the question mark is not necessary: She asked me whether I like pasta. Just as with a period, watch for the key factors of subject + verb, although note that the two are often reversed to form a new equation: verb + subject = question.

    Exclamation Points: Use sparingly!
    The exclamation point is used to show emphasis. Overuse of the exclamation point typically means your language is weak, and you are working hard to ensure that your readers recognize the emotions you want to convey. Poor writing relies on the exclamation point; good writing relies on strong verbs and nuanced punctuation, making the exclamation point unnecessary. As with the period and the question mark, the same two key components are necessary: subject + verb = exclamation.

    RULES TO REMEMBER:

    1. For any of the three terminal punctuation marks – period, question mark, or exclamation point – you must have a  subject + verb.

    She likes raspberry smoothies. (she + likes)

    Where are the raspberries? (are + raspberries)

    She drank it quickly! (she + drank)

    2. Both a direct and a rhetorical question must end with a  punctuation mark.

    What time is the graduation party? (is + party)

    How should I know? (should + I)

    A rhetorical question is a question that does not need an answer. If, for example, a friend asks you whether you intend to join him for lunch, you might answer, “Does the sun rise in the east?” not because you are encouraging a discussion of the earth’s rotation but because you want to emphasize that of course you intend to be there.

    3. Exclamation points should not be used in formal or academic writing, and should be used only sparingly in casual writing. Instead of relying on the exclamation point for emphasis, use strong verbs, lively adjectives, and creative nouns. In most cases, reserve exclamation points for direct dialogue or emails/texts to people you know well.

    “Jump!” Anthony shouted to his friend on the diving board.

    “Oh!” Louisa said with surprise. “What time were we supposed to arrive?”

    “Writing in the workplace is about helping others make the connections between the everyday ordinary and the wonderful possibilities yet to be discovered.” Paul Jones, Lead Pastor of Journey of Hope Community Church

    COMMON ERRORS:

    Forgetting the subject.

    Slammed the door in frustration. 

    Slammed is the verb, but we are missing a subject. Revision: Joseph slammed the door in frustration. (Joseph + slammed)

    Forgetting the verb.

    Children leaping and giggling in the giant ball pit.

    Children is the subject, but we are missing a verb. Revision: Children were leaping and giggling in the giant ball pit. (children + were)

    Forgetting the question mark.

    Why does he always have to behave that way.

    Even though it is likely a rhetorical question, we still need a question mark: Why does he always have to behave that way? (does + he)

    Overusing the exclamation point.

    The book was amazing!

    The author is brilliant!

    I look forward to exploring this topic further!
    If you include exclamation points in formal or academic writing, don’t be surprised if you lose a client or watch your final grade slide a few points. Exclamation points suggest that you are not confident about the strength of your words or ideas; if you want to write with conviction and authority, save the exclamation point for your texts to family and. friends

    EXERCISES:

    Exercise 3.1

    Finish the following with a period, question mark, or exclamation point.

    1. Why does your car always smell funny on Tuesdays
    2. Olivia ran 16 miles yesterday in preparation for Saturday’s race
    3. That movie looks excellent
    4. Does it matter whether I wear blue or yellow tomorrow afternoon
    5. Forty-five years is a long time for two people to love one another so well
    6. I wonder why his hair has flecks of paint in it today
    7. Were you ever required to take a typing course in school
    8. He will arrive in two hours
    9. “Ouch ”
    10. Left-turns are difficult on this road

     

    Exercise 3.2

    Correct the following sentence fragments.

    1. An answer to prayer.
    2. Chugging along slowly down the highway.
    3. Watering his lawn on a hot July day.
    4. Just in case.
    5. In her most professional attire.
    6. Exhausted by a long day of assessment.
    7. To the left of the stapler and to the right of the printer.
    8. Trembling beneath three layers of blankets.
    9. Uneasy about the day ahead.
    10. Teenagers ready for summer.

     

    Exercise 3.3
    1. I sliced the lemons with the new blade I sliced the corner of my index finger, too.
    2. He slept all day yesterday, I wonder how well he will sleep tonight.
    3. I know the bookshelves are dusty I can’t think about it until after I meet this next deadline, though.
    4. The kids rarely wanted to eat the same foods as their parents they preferred mostly white foods with a smattering of ketchup now and then.
    5. Lucy decided that spring is her favorite season she loves to spot  the new buds on the pear tree before anyone else in the family.
    6. Last year, he had only one week of vacation time this year, he hopes to earn more.
    7. Yesterday was a good day I finished my homework, cleaned my room, and jogged two miles.
    8. She hopes to get her license on her 16th birthday her friends are excited to ride to school with her.
    9. They decided to watch a movie last night it gave them nightmares.
    10. We planted sunflowers in May they grew taller than the roof.

    ANSWER KEY:

    Answer Key Exercise 3.1
    1. Why does your car always smell funny on Tuesdays?
    2. Olivia ran 16 miles yesterday in preparation for Saturday’s race.
    3. That movie looks excellent.
    4. Does it matter whether I wear blue or yellow tomorrow afternoon?
    5. Forty-five years is a long time for two people to love one another so well.
    6. I wonder why his hair has flecks of paint in it today.
    7. Were you ever required to take a typing course in school?
    8. He will arrive in two hours.
    9. “Ouch!
    10. Left-turns are difficult on this road.

     

    Answer Key Exercise 3.2

    A variety of answers will work, as long as each sentence includes a subject and a verb.

    1. She was an answer to prayer.
    2. Their motorhome was chugging along slowly down the highway.
    3. He was watering his lawn on a hot July day.
    4. I will call her just in case.
    5. She arrived in her most professional attire.
    6. He was exhausted by a long day of assessment.
    7. The paper is to the left of the stapler and to the right of the printer.
    8. The feverish child lay trembling beneath three layers of blankets.
    9. I am uneasy about the day ahead.
    10. They were just teenagers ready for summer.

     

    Answer Key Exercise 3.3
    1. I sliced the lemons with the new blade. I sliced the corner of my index finger, too.
    2. He slept all day yesterday. I wonder how well he will sleep tonight.
    3. I know the bookshelves are dusty. I can’t think about it until after I meet this next deadline, though.
    4. The kids rarely wanted to eat the same foods as their parents. They preferred mostly white foods with a smattering of ketchup now and then.
    5. Lucy decided that spring is her favorite season. She loves to spot
    the new buds on the pear tree before anyone else in the family.
    6. Last year, he had only one week of vacation time. This year, he hopes to earn more.
    7. Yesterday was a good day. I finished my homework, cleaned my room, and jogged two miles.
    8. She hopes to get her license on her 16th birthday. Her friends are excited to ride to school with her.
    9. They decided to watch a movie last night. It gave them nightmares.
    10. We planted sunflowers in May. They grew taller than the roof.

    Ch. 03 TERMINAL PUNCTUATION MARKS is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by LibreTexts.

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