Stories We Like: A Guide to the Comma


[puhngk-choo-ey-shuh n] /ˌpʌŋk tʃuˈeɪ ʃən/
the practice or system of using certain conventional marks or characters in writing or printing in order to separate elements and make the meaning clear, as in ending a sentence or separating clauses.
the act of punctuating.
punctuation marks.
1530-40; < Medieval Latin pūnctuātiōn- (stem of pūnctuātiō) a marking, pointing. See punctuate, -ion
Related forms
punctuational, punctuative, adjective
nonpunctuation, noun
repunctuation, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples for punctuation
  • In this lesson, students reflect on how punctuation shapes meaning, then research guidelines for correct usage.
  • Figures of speech, parentheses, and punctuation demand notice.
  • Thus, if an extract ends with a full stop or question-mark, put the punctuation before the closing inverted commas.
  • Don't worry about spelling or punctuation until you are through writing your poem.
  • Interesting article, although in desperate need of a good editor and a few dozen punctuation marks.
  • In texting, you don't have to end a sentence with any punctuation.
  • And sometimes a procession of such punctuation is a hint that a sentence is overstuffed or needs rethinking.
  • The punctuation and spelling errors are in the original.
  • Someone ought to proofread these articles for punctuation before they're posted.
  • Abstain from the exuberant use of punctuation marks.
British Dictionary definitions for punctuation


the use of symbols not belonging to the alphabet of a writing system to indicate aspects of the intonation and meaning not otherwise conveyed in the written language
the symbols used for this purpose
the act or an instance of punctuating
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for punctuation
1539, "pointing of the psalms," from M.L. punctuationem (nom. punctuatio) "a marking with points," from punctuatus, pp. of punctuare "to mark with points or dots," from L. punctus "a prick" (see point). Meaning "system of inserting pauses in written matter" is recorded from 1661.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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