Using Punctuation Marks: The better-known ones and the lesser-known ones

I am finally approaching the end of my series on punctuation marks. I admit I did not cover every single possibility, but then again that’s how lessons go: there is always something more to learn!

I intentionally left two punctuation marks for the last lesson. It made more sense to spend more time on punctuation more frequently used, such as the comma and parentheses. However, I didn’t want to exclude the ampersand and ellipsis. If you wish to give limited yet meaningful practice with these punctuation marks, here are some suggestions:

  • Sporcle.com lives up to its tagline “mentally stimulating diversions” by offering a timed-quiz on company names and brand names that have an ampersand. Click here to try it with your students.
  • BrainyQuote allows you to search for long quotations. Click here to view some. You could challenge students to select one to support a point. The challenge is not only to use quotes as support, but also decide if words can be omitted without changing the meaning of the quote. Students need to understand that omitting words and using an ellipsis is only possible if the meaning and intent are left intact. Example: In order to grow, we need to leave what is familiar. As Hellen Keller said, “Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature… . Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.” That is why I chose to come here and study English.
    [Retrieved from http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/long.html#UsT5SvJFtAywMPHv.99] Note: Decide which formatting you wish students to use when using an ellipsis within a quote. Are brackets or parentheses required?

To review punctuation marks in general, you may use one or more of these resources:

  1. My interactive exercises. (Look under Writing Skills.) One reviews the names of the punctuation marks. The other reviews their uses.
  2. Sentence First Aid. This activity limits practice to the punctuation marks and uses you wish to review.
  3. News Writer and Partner Swap. You can choose news articles or students compositions to practice editing.

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