Punctuation in the IELTS Writing test is paramount. The appropriate use of punctuation can convey the exact meaning as we perceive. And if the punctuation is not used or used inaccurately, it misrepresents the meaning of a statement or a sentence. As in writing, there are no verbal skills involved, so to express a thought we have to apply the right symbols to make our expression clearly understandable.
Let us take an example to understand the logic of using punctuation.
Read the sentence: Kevin finds joy in playing football his piano class and globetrotting.
Now, if we look at the sentence above, the meaning is vague and is not conveying what the writer wants to convey. It’s not making sense.
After we use punctuation marks, this is how the same sentence looks like: Kevin finds joy in playing football, his piano class and in globetrotting.
If we take a look at the sentence now, the meaning is quite evident and absolutely clear. The sentence is now clearly depicting whatever the writer wants to convey. It means that using punctuation adds meaning and value to the writing. It provides the right essence to the written text just as the intonation and pauses give to the verbal skills.
Communication is a two-way process and there are two ways of communication:
- Speaking: In speaking, one person speaks while the other listens. And normally we use small pauses to break a sentence and a long pause for ending the sentence.
- Writing: In writing, one person writes his thoughts/ideas and the other person reads it. And in the writing, if we want to give a pause, we will have to use appropriate punctuation. There are a variety of punctuation symbols that are used to express different things in writing the English language. In order to use them, let us first know them.
Types and usage of the Punctuations:
- Comma: Its symbol is (,). We use a comma to separate the two individual clauses when those clauses are joined by any conjunctions like and, or, etc. For example, The nurse explained her patient’s situation, yet the doctor still didn’t appear to understand.
- Semi-Colon: Its symbol is (; ). We use the semi-colon punctuation mark to join the two individual clauses in a single sentence. For example, She has her martial-arts fight tomorrow; she can’t go out with you tonight.
- Colon: Its symbol is (:). We use the colon punctuation mark to separate the two individual clauses where the second clause describes the first clause. For example, He kept saying: I want to win the gold medal.
- Full Stop: Its symbol is (.). We use a full stop punctuation mark to end a sentence. For example, if you practice for the IELTS exam thoroughly, you will get a good score.
- Hyphen: Its symbol is (-). We use the hyphen punctuation mark to conjoin the words or to unrelate the syllables of the same word. For example, You look sick; you should visit a well-known doctor.
- Question Mark: Its symbol is (?). We use the question mark punctuation when we put a query or when we ask a question. For example, When did you take your IELTS exam?
- Exclamation mark: Its symbol is (!). We use the exclamation sign when we have to show a state of excitement in our writing. Normally, we should avoid using this punctuation mark in our formal writing. For example, Wow! I can’t believe I won the trophy.
- Slash: Its symbol is (/). We use the slash punctuation mark to denote a choice, connection, or a variant of a word in a sentence. In other words, we use it as a line break. For example, To attain immigration to any foreign country, you have to appear for an English proficiency exam such as IELTS/ PTE/ CELPIP exam.
- Double Quotes: Its symbol is (“ “). We use the double quotation punctuation mark when we quote some expression. For example, The Minister of the state said, “This move will give an impetus to the economy of the country.
- Apostrophe: Its symbol is (‘). We use it to show the belongingness/possession of something to someone. Also, it is used when we want to write in the contracted form. For example, Amber’s pen writes smoothly. Or She’ll go to church tomorrow.
- Round brackets: Its symbol is ( ). We use the round brackets when we have to add some value-adding information to a sentence. For example, All of the country-heads were present in the SAARC meeting (including the US President),
- Square brackets: Its symbol is [ ]. We use the square brackets to add some exactly quoted information that is provided by somebody else other than the main writer. For example, He [the traffic policeman] challaned me when I flouted the traffic rules.
Things to take care of while writing the Punctuations:
- Beginning and Ending of a sentence: Whenever we start the sentence while writing, we should always begin it with a capital letter and when we end the sentence, put a full-stop to demonstrate that we have ended the sentence. This way the sentence clearly projects the beginning and the ending and it becomes easier for the IELTS examiner to mark the IELTS writing test and score you accordingly. Besides the capitalisation of the beginning of the sentence, the name of a place/ person/ thing/ animal/ country should start with a capital letter as they all are proper nouns.
The most important punctuation marks: All the punctuations are vital and each has equal importance and when used, it has a certain impact on the writing but the most important ones are the commas and the full-stop. Comma and full-stop are two such punctuation symbols that define the actual meaning of the whole sentence. Failure to use it in an appropriate manner can lead to misrepresentation of the information stated in the sentence as the examiner will not be able to comprehend the right pauses in between the sentence.