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198. Punctuation.--Punctuation teaches the method of placing Points, in written or printed matter, in such a manner as to indicate the pauses which would be made by the author if he were communicating his thoughts orally instead of by written signs.

199. Writing and Printing are substitutes for oral communication; and correct punctuation is essential to convey the meaning intended, and to give due force to such passages as the author may wish to impress upon the mind of the person to whom they are being communicated.

200. The Points are as follows:-

Comma ,
Semicolon ;
Colon :
Period, or Full Point .
Apostrophe '
Hyphen -
Note of Interrogation ?
Note of Exclamation !
Parenthesis ( )
Asterisk, or Star *

As these are all the points required in simple epistolary composition, we will confine our explanations to the rules which should govern the use of them.

201. The Other Points, however, are the paragraph ¶; the section §; the dagger; the double dagger; the parallel |; the bracket [ ]; and some others. These, however, asre quite unnecessary, except for elaborate works, in which they are chiefly used for notes or marginal references. The rule -- is sometimes used as a substitute for the bracket or parenthesis.

202. The Comma , denotes the shortest pause; the semicolon ; a little longer pause than the comma; the colon : a little longer pause than the semicolon; the period, or full point . the longest pause.

203. The Relative Duration of these pauses is described as--

CommaWhile you countOne,
Semicolon
,,
Two,
Colon
,,
Three,
Period
,,
Four.

This, however, is not an infallible rule, because the duration of the pauses should be regulated by the degree of rapidity with which the matter is being read. In slow reading the duration of the pauses should be increased.

204. The Other Points are rather indications of expression, and of meaning and connection, than of pauses, and therefore we will notice them separately.

205. The Misplacing of even so slight a point, or pause, as the comma, will often alter the meaning of a sentence. The contract made for lighting the town of Liverpool, during the year 1819, was thrown void by the misplacing of a comma in the advertisements, thus:- "The lamps at present are about 4,050, and have in general two points each, composed of not less than twenty threads of cotton." The contractor would have proceeded to furnish each lamp with the said twenty threads, but this being but half the usual quantity, the commissioners discovered that the difference arose from the comma following instead of preceding the word each. The parties agreed to annul the contract, and a new one was ordered.

206. The Following Sentence shows how difficult it is to read without the aid of the points used as pauses:-

Death waits not for storm nor sunshine within a dwelling in one of the upper streets respectable in appearance and furnished with such conveniences as distinguish the habitations of those who rank among the higher classes of society a man of middle age lay on his last bed momently awaiting the final summons all that the most skilful medical attendance all that love warm as the glow that fires an angel's bosom could do had been done by day and night for many long weeks had ministering spirits such as a devoted wife and loving children are done all within their power to ward off the blow but there he lay his raven hair smoothed off from his noble brow his dark eyes lighted with unnatural brightness and contrasting strongly with the pallid hue which marked him as an expectant of the dread messenger.

207. The Same Sentence, properly pointes, and with capital letters placed after full-points, according to the adopted rule, may be easily read and understood:-

Death waits not for storm nor sunshine. Within a dwelling in one of the upper streets, respectable in appearance, and furnished with such conveniences as distinguish the habitations of those who rank among the higher classes of society, a man of middle age lay on his last bed, momently awaiting the final summons. All that the most skilful medical attendance--all that love, warm as the glow that fires an angel's bosom, could do, had been done; by day and night, for many long weeks, had ministering spirits, such as a devoted wife and loving children are, done all within their power to ward off the blow. But there he lay, his raven hair smoothed off from his noble brow, his dark eyes lighted with unnatural brightness, and contrasting strongly with the pallid hue which marked him as an expectant of the dread messenger.

208. The Apostrophe ' is used to indicate the combining of two words in one,-- as John's book, instead of John, his book; or to show the omission of parts of words, as Glo'ster, for Gloucester--tho' for though. These abbreviations should be avoided as much as possible. Cobbett says the apostrophe "ought to be called the mark of laziness and vulgarity." The first use, however, of which we give an example, is a necessary and proper one.

209. The Hyphen, or conjoiner - is used to unite words which, though they are separate and distinct, have so close a connection as almost to become one word, as water-rat, wind-mill, &c. It is also used in writing and printing, at the end of a line, to show where a word is divided and continued in the next line. Look down the ends of the lines in this column, and you will notice the hyphen in several places.

210. The Note of Interrogation ? indicates that the sentence to which it is put asks a question; as, "What is the meaning of that assertion? What am I to do?"

211. The Note of Exclamation or of admiration ! indicates surprise, pleasure, or sorrow; as "Oh! Ah! Goodness! Beautiful! I am astonished! Woe is me!"

Sometimes, when an expression of strong surprise or pleasure is intended, two notes of this character are employed, thus ! !

212. The Parenthesis ( ) is used to prevent confusion by the introduction to a sentence of a passage not necessary to the sense thereof. "I am going to meet Mr. Smith (though I am not an admirer of him) on Wednesday next." It is better, however, as a rule, not to employ parenthetical sentences.

213. The Asterisk, or Star * may be empoloyed to refer from the text to a note of explanation at the foot of a column, or at the end of a letter. *.* Three stars are sometimes used to call particular attention to a paragraph.

214. Hints upon Spelling.--The following rules will be found of great assistance in writing, because they relate to a class of words about the spelling of which doubt and hesitation are frequently felt:-

i. All words of one syllable ending in l, with a single vowel before it, have double l at the close: as, mill, sell.

ii. All words of one syllable ending in l, with a double vowel before it, have one l only at the close: as, mail, sail.

iii. Words of one syllable ending in l, when compounded, retain but one l each; as, fulfil, skilful.

iv. Words of more than one syllable ending in l have one l only at the close; as, delightful, faithful; except befall, downfall, recall, unwell, &c.

v. All derivatives from words ending in l have one l only; as, equality, from equal; fulness, from full; except they end in er or ly; as, mill, miller; full, fully.

vi. All participles in ing from verbs ending in e lose the e final; as have, having; amuse, amusing; unless they come from verbs ending in double e, and then they retain both; as, see, seeing; agree, agreeing.

vii. All adverbs in ly and nouns in ment retain the e final of the primitives; as, brave, bravely; refine, refinement; except acknowledgment, judgment, &c.

viii. All derivatives from words ending in er retain the e before the r; as refer, reference; except hindrance, from hinder; remembrance from remember; disastrous from disaster; monstrous from monster; wondrous from wonder; cumbrous from cumber, &c.

ix. Compound words, if both end not in l, retain their primitive parts entire; as, millstone, changeable, graceless; except always, also, deplorable, although, almost, admirable, &c.

x. All words of one syllable ending in a consonant, with a single vowel before it, double that consonant in derivatives: as, sin, sinner; ship, shipping; big, bigger; glad, gladder, &c.

xi. Words of one syllable ending in a consonant, with a double vowel before it, do not double the consonant in derivatives: as, sleep, sleepy; troop, troopers.

xii. All words of more than one syllable ending in a single consonant, preceded by a single vowel, and accented on the last syllable, double that consonant in derivatives; as, commit, committee; compel, compelled; appal, appalled; distil, distiller.

xiii. Nouns of one syllable ending in y preceded by a consonant, change y into ies in the plural; and verbs ending in y, preceded by a consonant, change y into ies in the third person singular of the present tense, and into ied in the past tense and past participle, as, fly, flies; I apply, he applies; we reply, we replied, or have replied. If the y be preceded by a vowel, this rule is not applicable; as key, keys; I play, he plays; we have enjoyed ourselves.

xiv. Compound words whose primitives end in y change y into i; as, beauty, beautiful; lovely,


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