Believe it or not, there's more to British English punctuation than just commas and full stops! Eventhough many people don't inlcude punctuation in instant messaging and social media it is still important to know when and how to use it. Remember good punctuation helps us to convey our meaning more clearly.
Use commas in relative clauses and non-defining relative clauses. Remember, relative clauses give extra information to the main clause. For example:
- Lindsay, who is my friend, often helps me with my homework.
- This phone, which is broken, needs to be fixed.
Use a comma for lists: I want a new phone, new shoes, a car and a dog.
Semicolons are rarely used but are used to separate complex items in a list. For example: I need an orange from Seville; an avocado which isn't too hard; a motorbike which hasn't been driven on Wednesdays and a Siberian hamster with three legs.
Colons are used before a list. Colons are also used to introduce quotations or direct speech. As in the following example, the prime minister said: "There is no need to panic."
Watch Dan's explanation and improve your listening skills at the same time.
Are the sentences correct or incorrect?
- I ordered seven pairs of socks, 2 jumpers, 6 dresses, and a hat.
Incorrect. We don't add a comma between the last two items on a list.
- I bought two pairs of shoes; four pairs of trousers; a pair of gloves and some tights.
Incorrect. This sentence is not a complex list and therefore we shouldn't use semicolons.
- Right, we are going to need: wrapping paper, scissors, sellotape and some glue.
- She was overheard saying; "This is a terrible idea."
Incorrect. It should be a colon to introduce a quote.