It is used to organize the syntactic flow and the progression of ideas. Punctuation also allows the separation between words or sentences or between the ideas of sentences. It also gives an idea of the function of the sentence, whether it is an exclamatory, declarative, or interrogative sentence. In addition, introducing explanations or quotations serves as a presentation or illustration tool.
Indeed, punctuation is: " the set of conventional signs used to indicate, in writing, facts of oral language such as pauses and intonation, or to mark certain breaks and certain logical links " Maurice Grevisse and André Goosse (2007: 115). Each punctuation mark has a function to exploit in its writing. Generally, we traditionally identify ten or twelve punctuation marks that are inserted into the text: question mark (?), exclamation point (!), comma (,), semicolon (;), colon (:), ellipsis (…), parenthesis (()), quotation marks (“ ”), hyphen (–), etc.
Period or full stop
The period is among the main punctuation marks. It marks the end of a sentence or a paragraph, it is at the end of a declarative sentence to mark its end. The period does not separate from the last letter of the word that ends the sentence. If another sentence follows on the same line, its capital letter is separated from the point by a space.
The comma is a sign marking a pause of medium duration without changing the intonation during reading. It is important in any syntactic structure, but it is difficult to use in a precise place. To this end, Albert Doppagne (2006: 13) asserts that: "Of all the punctuation marks, the comma is perhaps the most important, but the trickiest to use wisely. »
The comma specifies the elements incised or inserted inside a sentence, an enumeration, or it is used to separate words, groups of words of the same nature, or juxtaposed propositions.
In fact, it is used to separate words, groups of words, or coordinated propositions by the coordinating conjunctions and, or, nor, but, because, etc.
In the case of ni, the comma is rarely used if it is used twice. If it is repeated several times, we put the comma. Again, in the case of the preposition but the comma precedes this conjunction when it indicates an opposition. The comma is also placed after the circumstantial elements of a sentence.
This sign is used to connect two propositions linked by a semantic sequence without them being linked by a grammatical link. That is to say, it separates independent propositions, united by meaning and juxtaposed. Thus, it marks a medium pause, neither short like that of the comma nor long like that of the period.
The colon marks the presentation of an explanation or definition. As well as they serve to introduce a quotation as an argument or to cite elements as examples.
They are also called suspensive points, always three in number, showing that the thought or the expression expressed is incomplete and interrupted for various reasons: interrupted sentence, a shortened enumeration. They are thus used in quotations to mark the deletion of a passage.
Exclamation point and question mark
The exclamation mark is placed at the end of an exclamatory sentence or a sentence expressing surprise, admiration, or order. It is a melodic sign marking the end of a direct interrogative sentence. These two signs are rarely used in scientific writings (the question mark is used in the problematic).
Parenthesis are signs that are used in pairs. Generally, in writing, Parenthesis is used to mention or clarify a detail. They are also used to:
- Indicate a word, a group of words, sometimes even an entire clause within a sentence.
- Parenthesis specifies an explanation or a comment that has no syntactic link with the rest of the sentence.
- Make up for a remark, reference, or secondary note.
- Indicate a reference, the year, and the page or also to the studies of a researcher.
Quotes and dashes
The quotation marks were inspired by the printer Guillaume, where their name comes from. They are used in pairs: opening quotation marks and closing quotation marks. They mark the change of author in a speech, they frame any quotation, any intervention of a character in a direct speech.
The hyphen presents a hyphen of a few compound words, it serves to unite several elements to form a lexical unit. This sign is used in the enumeration of elements.
In conclusion, punctuation is a typographical and technical system that makes text readable and understandable. The rules of punctuation are methodological requirements that come from conventions among grammarians. These rules develop and undergo changes through time and context as well as they differ from one language to another.