Writing Essentials - Tips and Techniques

Utilise this movella to aid your writing needs from punctuation to correct verb usage! You will review important mechanics of writing in order to create sentences that express coherence and fervour. Each chapter in this movella will discuss various writing tools that have the ability to turn any piece of writing into a magnificent work of art.

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2. Punctuation

Each punctuation in writing has its own usage. In order to create an understandable sentence, you must first understand the significance of each punctuation.

Each punctuation example will provide you extra tips on grammar structure, so pay great attention to each of them.

 

Period/Full Stop

The period, or a full stop, is a very important punctuation and can often be forgotten. A period will always come after the end of an independent clause—a sentence with a subject and a verb.

I am going to school.

When a sentence does not have a period at the end of it, and another independent clause follows the sentence, it is called a run-on sentence.

I am going to school I hope I do well on the test today.

If you are prone to forgetting the period, change your habits now! This can create disorganised compositions if dotting periods is your weakness; it will scare away readers instantly!

More on Run-On Sentences

A run-on sentence is usually made when a full stop has been forgotten. However, not every run-on sentence has this issue. A run-on sentence is more specifically when a sentence misuses certain punctuation, which creates unrecognisable grammar.

I went to the store it was cold in there, not knowing where to go. I asked an employee where the tomatoes were when I spotted the tomatoes I did not need the employee's help anymore.

Correct punctuation usage is important!

I went to the store; it was cold in there. I did not know where to go, so I asked an employee where the tomatoes were. When I spotted the tomatoes, I did not need the employee's help anymore.

 

• Comma

The comma is a very tricky punctuation because it has many different usages.

A comma is used when:

- it follows a dependent clause—a sentence with a subject or a verb:

Heading to the store, I tripped over a crack in the sidewalk.

With my wallet bulging, I accidentally sat down too quickly.

As the bear approached, I collapsed into a ball as I shuddered with apprehension.

- it is listing multiple nouns, adjectives or verbs:

I like dogs, cats, and birds.

The magnificent, swaying ocean relaxed me.

He was seen running, crouching, and rolling as he raced to the finish line. 

Oxford Comma

In the United States, the Oxford comma is very important when listing. However, in other countries (the UK, Canada, Australia, etc.) the Oxford comma is not usually practised. Although, this particular comma is now becoming very popular, even amongst regions that do not use this rule. Be sure to stick with your decision when writing, whether to use the comma or not.

I like dogs, cats and birds.

According to Oxford, the comma prevents readers from thinking the two nouns, adjectives or verbs occur or coexist with each other. 

- it precedes a conjunction that creates an independent clause:

Cats are interesting, but I ultimately like dogs.

This game is so much fun, and I always win!

I cannot believe you did that, and you did not even inform me about this.

- it is stating a parenthetical expression—additional content in a sentence that can be omitted without disrupting proper  English grammar:

I was late to school, only a half-second late, because the insole of my right shoe ripped whilst running through the hallway.

I could not lift the heavy box, which caused my back to give out.

I thought I lost my wallet, leaving the mall, only to discover it in my purse.

I cannot blame you for not being able to understand the comma by this list, so feel free to use the comments below as your inquiry box.

Comma Splice

I am sure you have heard of this before, and you probably ignored it because of its ambiguity. A comma splice is when a comma separates two independent clauses without any conjunction or conjunctive adverb.

I like dogs, I brought home a dog the next day.

This is a comma splice.

To fix a comma splice, we need either two sentences or a conjunctive adverb. With a conjunctive adverb, it basically connects the two independent clauses but only when they hold the same context.

I like dogs. I brought home a dog the next day.

I like dogs, so I brought home a dog the next day.

Comma splices are tricky to spot in writing, especially when creating complex sentences. Just be sure when using a comma in a sentence to separate them, ensure that there are at least one independent clause and one subordinate clause. If you can halve both sentences and they both can make a complete sentence, then you created a comma splice.

 

Apostrophe

The apostrophe has very strict rules. It can change an entire meaning of a sentence when used correctly.

Here is an example:

Let's see how long you can hold your breath.

versus...

Lets see how long you can hold your breath.

The first example is correct because Let's is the contraction of Let us. When there is no apostrophe in the word Lets, this word has a meaning of permission.

Imagine Let(s) being substituted with allow(s).

Allows see how long you can hold your breath.

This is incorrect, so Let's must be used.

This let's you breathe underwater.

This is incorrect. Remember, Let's is the contraction of Let us. "Let us you breathe..." makes no sense.

Another rule for the apostrophe is for possession. The apostrophe always precedes an 'S' for any noun.

I have my friend's wallet.

It was Kevin's idea.

Keep in mind that when a noun ends with an 'S', the apostrophe usually follows the 'S' and does not add another. Although both styles are correct, the s' style is more popularly used. You will often encounter this with names.

It is Charles' wallet.

I don't think Louis' mother will approve.

Contractions are also a reason to use an apostrophe.

Your mother's been worried about you. (Your mother has...)

I'm the only person who has this. (I am...)

She's going to hang out with her friends today. (She is...)

NOTE: Ain't is the contraction of the full verb phrase of am not. However, ain't is so commonly used that it is thought to be correct. Although this is technically true, it is considered more non-standard than the contraction you come across frequently such as cannotshould notwould notcould notI am, etc. 

Keep note that in academic writing, you should avoid using contractions in order to make your sentences stronger. Use cannot instead of can't, should not instead of shouldn't. The extra word will lengthen your sentences in a healthy way. The use of contractions in writing are more appropriately used in dialogue or informal writing. Keep in mind that spoken and written language have their own nuances.

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