Along with spelling and grammar, punctuation is one aspect of written English that only the obsessive really bother about. Although it may assist in formulating clear, unambiguous communication, its correct usage will be completely overlooked by the vast majority of people, all of whom have much better things to do with their time. The basic forms of punctuation and their usage is as follows.
. Full stop. Usually applied at the end of a sentence, unless an integral part of the sentence, such as “My glass is . pouring the wine,”
, Comma. Used to disguise spelling mistakes, as in “I’ve just bought a , van.” or less commonly, “I’ve just seen a , butterfly.”
: Colon. Named after Colon the Barbarian, who famously threatened a captive Visigoth with “I’m going to rip out your: and eat it.”
: Semi-colon. Confusingly, not half a colon, which would be a full stop, but a full stop on top of a comma, which is generally used to break up long sentences into; more manageable; phrases.
‘ Apostrophe. Used to show possession, as in “That’s George’s hat’s”, or to replace a letter, as in “That’s George’s hat’s”. Often used incorrectly, as in “That’s Georges’ hats”.
() Parenthesis. Commonly known as brackets and used to enclose a qualifying phrase essential to the meaning of the whole sentence, such as “These wall () are useless”.
Question marks, quotation marks and exclamation marks are also forms of punctuation, as are Groucho Marks, which are used to express displeasure. Karl Marks were used by mediaeval serfs.