Punctuation – Introduction – Post 15


ATTENTION PLEASE: if you are not reading this article in English, I highly recommend that you turn off the automatic translation on your browser. 


Punctuation is a fundamental aspect of any language. The presence or the absence of a comma in a sentence could radically change its general meaning. Therefore, it is very important that you learn how to interpret and use punctuation in English.

Punctuation symbols:

“ . ” – Full stop or Full point – The “full stop” generally indicates the end of a sentence and it is also used to abbreviate nouns or expressions (for example: “adj.” = Adjective; “e.g.” = exempli gratia)

“ , ” – Comma – You should use the comma when listing nouns or adjectives, or when you want to emphasize a word or a clause by positioning them in a particular place within the sentence (for instance, at the beginning.).

“ ‘ ” – Apostrophe – The apostrophe is used in contractions (don’t, aren’t, shouldn’t, etc.), it is also used to express the “possessive case” (“My father’s car.”; “Carla’s best friend.”). It can also be used to express individual letters in the plural (Like in the following sentence: The word “appear” has two P’s.)

“ ? ” – Question mark – The question mark in English is normally associated with the subject-verb inversion, and it indicates that the sentence is in fact a question rather than a statement.

“ ! ” – Exclamation mark – The exclamation mark is used to express exclamations such as “wow!”, or “Oh, my goodness!”, etc. It is also used in imperative sentences like “Don’t do that!” or “Shut up!”.

“ : ” – Colon – You should use the colon to introduce a list, a summary, or an explanation.

“ ; ” – Semicolon – You can use the semicolon to separate independent clauses, or to separate the elements of a list when those elements also contains commas. When reading, the semicolon should be interpreted as a pause longer than a comma but shorter than a full stop.

“ – ” – Hyphen – The hyphen indicates that two words have been joined together in order to create a new word (for example: back-up; post-mortem; self-interest). The hyphen is also used to divide words at the end of a line when the whole word doesn’t fit on it.

“ – ” – En dash – (Alt + 0150) – The en dash is commonly used to express the span or range of numbers, dates, or time; and it is usually read as “to” (1982–87; 01:00a.m.–02:00a.m.) – Note: The en dash is longer than the hyphen.

“ — ” – Em dash – (Alt + 0151) – Em dashes can replace commas when emphasizing a particular clause which adds information in a sentence. They can also replace parentheses “( )”. In both cases a pair of em dashes are required. A single em dash is possible at the end of a sentence. For example: Clean air, fresh water, singing birds—it was a paradise.

Note: Em dashes are always more emphatic than commas, parentheses, or colons. Note: they are longer than en dashes.

“ ( ) ” – Parentheses – Parentheses are always used in pairs, and they usually enclose additional information.

“ “” ” / “ ‘’ ” – Quotation marks – You should use quotation marks when quoting somebody’s words, or sentences. – (‘ = Alt+0145; ’ = Alt+0146)

“ … ” – Ellipsis or Suspension points – Ellipsis indicates that part of the sentence is being omitted. They can also express hesitation, and in that case you can call them “suspension points”.


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“Less” vs “Fewer” – Post 14


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Both “fewer” and “less” mean “to a lower degree”, so what’s the difference between the two?

Well, the word “less” normally refers to uncountable nouns, whereas “fewer” agrees with countable nouns.

Look at the following examples:

“Nowadays there is considerable less vegetation than there was in 1990.” – (“vegetation” is an uncountable noun, so we use the word “less”)

“Nowadays there are considerable fewer trees than there were in 1990.” – (“tree” is a countable noun, so we use the word “fewer” instead.)


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“Somebody has just done something” – Present perfect 2 – “Have just done” – Post 8


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Normally, the Present Perfect is used to express non-completed actions or completed actions that you may repeat in the future. However, there are exceptions.

In the following case the Present Perfect expresses a completed action which has happened recently and you can use “just” in order to emphasize that concept:

Q: “Are you having breakfast with us today?”

A: “No thanks, I’ve just had it.”


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“Somebody has done something” – Present Perfect 1 – “Have done” – Post 7


ATTENTION PLEASE: if you are not reading this article in English, I highly recommend that you turn off the automatic translation on your browser. 


I have visited France four times.” – That means that I have been to France four times during my entire life until now, and that there is the possibility that I go to France more times in the future.

The present perfect indicates that you have done something during a period of time, and that you may continue doing such thing.

“I have had three fruit infusions today.” (Present Perfect)- You would say that if it is 12 a.m. because you may have more fruit infusions throughout the rest of the day, maybe in the evening. But if the day is over and you are in bed, then you should say “I had three fruit infusions today.” (Past Simple)


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