HOME

TheInfoList




Punctuation (or sometimes interpunction) is the use of spacing, conventional signs (called punctuation marks), and certain typographical devices as aids to the understanding and correct reading of written text, whether read silently or aloud. Another description is, "It is the practice, action, or system of inserting points or other small marks into texts in order to aid interpretation; division of text into sentences, clauses, etc., by means of such marks." In written
English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has eventually become the World language, leading lan ...
, punctuation is vital to disambiguate the meaning of
sentence Sentence(s) or The Sentence may refer to: Common uses * Sentence (law), the punishment a judge gives to a defendant found guilty of a crime * Sentence (linguistics), a grammatical unit of language * Sentence (mathematical logic), a formula not cont ...
s. For example: "woman, without her man, is nothing" (emphasizing the importance of men to women), and "woman: without her, man is nothing" (emphasizing the importance of women to men) have very different meanings; as do "eats shoots and leaves" (which means the subject consumes plant growths) and "eats, shoots, and leaves" (which means the subject eats first, then fires a weapon, and then leaves the scene). (2003). '' Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation''. Profile Books. . The sharp differences in meaning are produced by the simple differences in punctuation within the example pairs, especially the latter. The rules of punctuation vary with language,
location In geography Geography (from Ancient Greek, Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted to the study of the lands, features, inhabitants, and phenomena of the Earth and Solar System, planets. Th ...

location
,
register A register is an authoritative list of one kind of information. Register or registration may refer to: Arts entertainment, and media Music * Register (music), the relative "height" or range of a note, melody, part, instrument, etc. * ''Regis ...
, and
time Time is the continued sequence of existence and event (philosophy), events that occurs in an apparently irreversible process, irreversible succession from the past, through the present, into the future. It is a component quantity of various me ...

time
and are constantly evolving. Certain aspects of punctuation are stylistic and are thus the
author An author is the creator or originator of any written work such as a book A book is a medium for recording information Information is processed, organised and structured data Data (; ) are individual facts, statistics, or item ...

author
's (or editor's) choice, or tachygraphic (shorthand) language forms, such as those used in
online chat Online chat may refer to any kind of communication Communication (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the ar ...
and
text messages Text messaging, or texting, is the act of composing and sending electronic messages, typically consisting of alphabetic and numeric characters, between two or more users of mobile device A mobile device (or handheld computer) is a computer ...
.


History

The first writing systems were either
logographic In a written language A written language is the representation of a spoken or gestural language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign lan ...
or
syllabicSyllabic may refer to: *Syllable, a unit of speech sound, considered the building block of words **Syllabic consonant, a consonant that forms the nucleus of a syllable *Syllabary, writing system using symbols for syllables *Abugida, writing system us ...
for example,
Chinese Chinese can refer to: * Something related to China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by population, world's most populous country, with a populat ...

Chinese
and
Mayan script Maya script, also known as Maya glyphs, was the writing system of the Maya civilization of Mesoamerica and is the only Mesoamerican writing system that has been substantially deciphered. The earliest inscriptions found which are identifiably May ...
which do not necessarily require punctuation, especially
spacing
spacing
. This is because the entire
morpheme A morpheme is the smallest meaningful lexical itemIn lexicography, a lexical item (or lexical unit / LU, lexical entry) is a single word, a part of a word, or a chain of words ( catena) that forms the basic elements of a language's lexicon A ...
or word is typically clustered within a single glyph, so spacing does not help as much to distinguish where one word ends and the other starts. Disambiguation and emphasis can easily be communicated without punctuation by employing a separate written form distinct from the spoken form of the language that uses slightly different phraseology. Even today, written English differs subtly from spoken English because not all emphasis and disambiguation is possible to convey in print, even with punctuation. Ancient Chinese classical texts were transmitted without punctuation. However, many
Warring States period The Warring States period () was an era in ancient Chinese history characterized by warfare, as well as bureaucratic and military reforms and consolidation. It followed the Spring and Autumn period#REDIRECT Spring and Autumn period The Spri ...
bamboo texts contain the symbols and indicating the end of a chapter and
full stop The full stop (Commonwealth English The use of the English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has eventually become the ...

full stop
, respectively.林清源,《簡牘帛書標題格式研究》台北: 藝文印書館,2006。(Lin Qingyuan, ''Study of Title Formatting in Bamboo and Silk Texts'' Taipei: Yiwen Publishing, 2006.) . By the
Song dynasty The Song dynasty (; ; 960–1279) was an imperial dynasty of China that began in 960 and lasted until 1279. The dynasty was founded by Emperor Taizu of Song Emperor Taizu of Song (21 March 927 – 14 November 976), personal name Zhao Kua ...
, addition of punctuation to texts by scholars to aid comprehension became common.The ''
History of the Song Dynasty The Song dynasty The Song dynasty (; ; 960–1279) was an imperial dynasty of China that began in 960 and lasted until 1279. The dynasty was founded by Emperor Taizu of Song following his usurpation of the throne of the Later Zhou, ending t ...
'' (1346) states 「凡所讀書,無不加標點。」 (Among those who read texts, there are none who do not add punctuation).
The earliest
alphabet An alphabet is a standardized set of basic written symbols A symbol is a mark, sign, or word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can be uttered in isolation with semanti ...

alphabet
ic writing – Phoenician, Hebrew, and others of the same family – had no
capitalization Capitalization (North American English North American English (NAmE, NAE) is the most generalized variety Variety may refer to: Science and technology Mathematics * Algebraic variety, the set of solutions of a system of polynomial equat ...
, no spaces, no vowels (see
abjad An abjad () is a type of writing system A writing system is a method of visually representing verbal communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in relation with") is "an apparent answer to th ...

abjad
) and few punctuation marks. This worked as long as the subject matter was restricted to a limited range of topics (for example, writing used for recording business transactions). Punctuation is historically an aid to reading aloud. The oldest known document using punctuation is the
Mesha Stele The Mesha Stele, also known as the Moabite Stone, is a stele A stele ( ),Anglicized plural steles ( ); Greek plural stelai ( ), from Greek , ''stēlē''. The Greek plural is written , ''stēlai'', but this is only rarely encountered in E ...
(9th century BC). This employs points between the words and horizontal strokes between the sense section as punctuation.


Western Antiquity

Most texts were still written in ''
scriptura continua ''Scriptio continua'' (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of th ...
'', that is without any separation between words. However, the
Greeks The Greeks or Hellenes (; el, Έλληνες, ''Éllines'' ) are an ethnic group An ethnic group or ethnicity is a grouping of people A people is any plurality of person A person (plural people or persons) is a being that has cer ...

Greeks
were sporadically using punctuation marks consisting of vertically arranged dots—usually two (dicolon) or three (tricolon)—in around the 5th century BC as an aid in the oral delivery of texts. Greek playwrights such as
Euripides Euripides (; grc, Εὐριπίδης ''Eurīpídēs'', ; ) was a tragedian Tragedy (from the grc-gre, τραγῳδία, ''tragōidia'', ''tragōidia'') is a form of drama based on human suffering and, mainly, the terrible or sorrowfu ...

Euripides
and
Aristophanes Aristophanes (; grc, Ἀριστοφάνης, ; c. 446 – c. 386 BC), son of Philippus, of the deme 250px, Pinakia, identification tablets (name, father's name, deme) used for tasks like jury selection, Museum at the Ancient Agora of Athe ...

Aristophanes
used symbols to distinguish the ends of phrases in written
drama Drama is the specific Mode (literature), mode of fiction Mimesis, represented in performance: a Play (theatre), play, opera, mime, ballet, etc., performed in a theatre, or on Radio drama, radio or television.Elam (1980, 98). Considered as a ...

drama
: this essentially helped the play's cast to know when to pause. After 200 BC, the Greeks used
Aristophanes of Byzantium __NOTOC__ Aristophanes of Byzantium Byzantium () or Byzantion ( grc-gre, Βυζάντιον) was an ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the used in and the from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often roughly divide ...
's system (called ) of a single dot () placed at varying heights to mark up speeches at rhetorical divisions: * – a low on the baseline to mark off a (unit smaller than a
clause In language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in relation with") is "an apparent answer to the painful divisions between self and other, private a ...
); * – a at midheight to mark off a clause (); and * – a high to mark off a sentence (). In addition, the Greeks used the
paragraphos A paragraphos ( grc, , ''parágraphos'', from ''para-'', "beside", and ''graphein'', "to write") was a mark in ancient Ancient history is the aggregate of past events
paragraphos
(or
gamma Gamma (uppercase , lowercase ; ''gámma'') is the third letter of the Greek alphabet The Greek alphabet has been used to write the Greek language since the late ninth or early eighth century BC. It is derived from the earlier Phoenician ...

gamma
) to mark the beginning of sentences, marginal
diple Diple, ( pluralia tantum; pronounced , other Croatian names: ''"misnjiče"'', ''"miješnice"'' and ''"mih"'') is a traditional woodwind Woodwind instruments are a family of musical instruments within the more general category of wind instrumen ...
s to mark quotations, and a koronis to indicate the end of major sections. The
Romans Roman or Romans usually refers to: *Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus , image_map = Map of comune of Rome (metropolitan city of Capital Rome, region Lazio, ...
() also occasionally used symbols to indicate pauses, but the Greek —under the name ''distinctiones''—prevailed by the 4th century AD as reported by
Aelius Donatus Aelius Donatus (; fl. mid-fourth century AD) was a Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *, the capital city of Italy *, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *, the people of ancient Rome *', shortened to ''Romans'', a ...
and
Isidore of Seville Isidore of Seville (; la, Isidorus Hispalensis; c. 560 – 4 April 636) was a Spanish scholar and cleric. For over three decades, he was Archbishop In many Christian denomination, Christian Denominations, an archbishop (, via Latin ...
(7th century). Also, texts were sometimes laid out , where every sentence had its own separate line. Diples were used, but by the late period these often degenerated into comma-shaped marks.


Medieval

Punctuation developed dramatically when large numbers of copies of the
Bible The Bible (from Koine Greek Koine Greek (, , Greek approximately ;. , , , lit. "Common Greek"), also known as Alexandrian dialect, common Attic, Hellenistic or Biblical Greek, was the koiné language, common supra-regional form of Gree ...

Bible
started to be produced. These were designed to be read aloud, so the
copyists A copyist is a person who makes copies. The term is sometimes used for artists who make copies of other artists' paintings. However, the modern use of the term is almost entirely confined to music copyists, who are employed by the music industry ...
began to introduce a range of marks to aid the reader, including
indentation Indentation or indenting may refer to: * Indentation (typesetting), the placement of text farther to the right, or left, to separate it from surrounding text * Indentation style, in programming a convention governing the indentation of blocks of c ...
, various punctuation marks (
diple Diple, ( pluralia tantum; pronounced , other Croatian names: ''"misnjiče"'', ''"miješnice"'' and ''"mih"'') is a traditional woodwind Woodwind instruments are a family of musical instruments within the more general category of wind instrumen ...
, , ), and an early version of initial capitals ().
Jerome Jerome (; la, Eusebius Sophronius Hieronymus; grc-gre, Εὐσέβιος Σωφρόνιος Ἱερώνυμος; – 30 September 420), also known as Jerome of Stridon, was a Christian priest A priest is a religious leader authoriz ...

Jerome
and his colleagues, who made a translation of the Bible into
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became ...

Latin
, the ''
Vulgate The Vulgate (; also called , ) is a late-4th-century Latin translation of the Bible The Bible (from Koine Greek Koine Greek (, , Greek approximately ;. , , , lit. "Common Greek"), also known as Alexandrian dialect, common Attic, ...
'' (), employed a layout system based on established practices for teaching the speeches of
Demosthenes Demosthenes (; el, Δημοσθένης, translit=Dēmosthénēs; ; 384 – 12 October 322 BC) was a statesman and orator of . His constitute a significant expression of contemporary Athenian intellectual prowess and provide an insight in ...

Demosthenes
and
Cicero Marcus Tullius Cicero ( ; ; 3 January 106 BC – 7 December 43 BC) was a Ancient Rome, Roman statesman, lawyer, scholar, philosopher and Academic skepticism, Academic Skeptic, who tried to uphold optimate principles during crisis of ...

Cicero
. Under his layout every sense-unit was indented and given its own line. This layout was solely used for biblical manuscripts during the 5th–9th centuries but was abandoned in favor of punctuation. In the 7th–8th centuries
Irish Irish most commonly refers to: * Someone or something of, from, or related to: ** Ireland, an island situated off the north-western coast of continental Europe ** Northern Ireland, a constituent unit of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and North ...
and
Anglo-Saxon The Anglo-Saxons were a cultural group Cultural identity is a part of a person's identity Identity may refer to: Social sciences * Identity (social science), personhood or group affiliation in psychology and sociology Group expression ...
scribes, whose
native language A first language, native tongue, native language, or mother/father/parent tongue (also known as arterial language or L1) is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin Latin (, or , ) ...
s were not derived from
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became ...

Latin
, added more visual cues to render texts more intelligible. Irish scribes introduced the practice of
word separation
word separation
. Likewise, insular scribes adopted the system while adapting it for minuscule script (so as to be more prominent) by using not differing height but rather a differing number of marks—aligned horizontally (or sometimes triangularly)—to signify a pause's value: one mark for a minor pause, two for a medium one, and three for a major. Most common were the , a comma-shaped mark, and a 7-shaped mark (), often used in combination. The same marks could be used in the margin to mark off quotations. In the late 8th century a different system emerged in
France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a transcontinental country This is a list of countries located on more than one continent A continent is one of several large landmasses ...

France
under the
Carolingian dynasty The Carolingian dynasty (known variously as the Carlovingians, Carolingus, Carolings, Karolinger or Karlings) was a Frankish Frankish may refer to: * Franks The Franks ( la, Franci or ) were a group of Germanic peoples The historic ...
. Originally indicating how the voice should be
modulated In electronics Electronics comprises the physics, engineering, technology and applications that deal with the emission, flow and control of electrons in vacuum and matter. It uses active devices to control electron flow by amplifier, amplifi ...

modulated
when chanting the
liturgy Liturgy is the customary public worship performed by a religious group. As a religious phenomenon, liturgy represents a community, communal response to and participation in the sacred through activities reflecting praise, thanksgiving, remembrance ...
, the migrated into any text meant to be read aloud, and then to all manuscripts. first reached
England England is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to its west and Scotland to its north. The Irish Sea lies northwest of England and the Celtic Sea to the southwest. E ...

England
in the late 10th century, probably during the Benedictine reform movement, but was not adopted until after the
Norman conquest The Norman Conquest (or the Conquest) was the 11th-century invasion and occupation of England by an army made up of thousands of Normans, Duchy of Brittany, Bretons, County of Flanders, Flemish, and men from other Kingdom of France, French ...
. The original were the , , , and , but a fifth symbol, the , was added in the 10th century to indicate a pause of a value between the and . In the late 11th/early 12th century the disappeared and was taken over by the simple (now with two distinct values). The
late Middle Ages The Late Middle Ages or Late Medieval Period was the period Period may refer to: Common uses * Era, a length or span of time * Full stop (or period), a punctuation mark Arts, entertainment, and media * Period (music), a concept in musical com ...
saw the addition of the (slash or slash with a midpoint dot) which was often used in conjunction with the for different types of pauses. Direct quotations were marked with marginal diples, as in Antiquity, but from at least the 12th century scribes also began entering diples (sometimes double) within the column of text.


Printing-press era

The amount of printed material and its readership began to increase after the invention of moveable type in Europe in the 1450s. As explained by writer and editor
Lynne Truss Lynne Truss (born 31 May 1955) is an English author, journalist, novelist, and radio broadcasting, radio broadcaster and radio drama, dramatist. She is arguably best known for her championing of correctness and aesthetics in the English languag ...

Lynne Truss
, "The rise of printing in the 14th and 15th centuries meant that a standard system of punctuation was urgently required." Printed books, whose letters were uniform, could be read much more rapidly than manuscripts. Rapid reading, or reading aloud, did not allow time to analyze sentence structures. This increased speed led to the greater use and finally standardization of punctuation, which showed the relationships of words with each other: where one sentence ends and another begins, for example. The introduction of a standard system of punctuation has also been attributed to the Venetian printers
Aldus Manutius Aldus Pius Manutius (; it, Aldo Pio Manuzio; 1449/14526 February 1515) was an Italian humanist Humanism is a philosophical Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, ...

Aldus Manutius
and his grandson. They have been credited with popularizing the practice of ending sentences with the
colon Colon commonly refers to: * Colon (punctuation) (:), a punctuation mark * Major part of large intestine, the final section of the digestive system Colon may also refer to: Places * Colon, Michigan, US * Colon, Nebraska, US * Kowloon, Hong Kong, s ...

colon
or
full stop The full stop (Commonwealth English The use of the English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has eventually become the ...

full stop
(period), inventing the
semicolon The semicolon or semi-colon is a symbol commonly used as orthographic punctuation Punctuation (or sometimes interpunction) is the use of spacing, conventional signs (called punctuation marks), and certain typographical devices as aids to ...

semicolon
, making occasional use of
parentheses A bracket is either of two tall fore- or back-facing punctuation Punctuation (or sometimes interpunction) is the use of spacing, conventional signs (called punctuation marks), and certain typographical devices as aids to the understanding ...
, and creating the modern
comma The comma is a punctuation Punctuation (or sometimes interpunction) is the use of spacing, conventional signs (called punctuation marks), and certain typographical devices as aids to the understanding and correct reading of written text, ...
by lowering the virgule. By 1566, Aldus Manutius the Younger was able to state that the main object of punctuation was the clarification of
syntax In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Linguistics encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the ...

syntax
. By the 19th century, punctuation in the western world had evolved "to classify the marks hierarchically, in terms of weight". Cecil Hartley's poem identifies their relative values: The stop point out, with truth, the time of pause A sentence doth require at ev'ry clause. At ev'ry comma, stop while ''one'' you count; At semicolon, ''two'' is the amount; A colon doth require the time of ''three''; The period ''four'', as learned men agree. The use of punctuation was not standardised until after the invention of printing. According to the 1885 edition of ''The American Printer'', the importance of punctuation was noted in various sayings by children such as walked and talked Half an hour after his head was cut off. With a semi-colon and a comma added, it reads as follows: Charles the First walked and talked; Half an hour after, his head was cut off. In a 19th-century manual of
typography Typography is the art and technique of arranging type to make written language A written language is the representation of a spoken or gestural language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including ...

typography
, Thomas MacKellar writes:


Typewriters and electronic communication

The introduction of
electrical telegraphy An electrical telegraph is a point-to-point text messaging system, primarily used from the 1840s until the mid 20th century when it was slowly replaced by other telecommunication systems. It used coded pulses of electric current An electric c ...
with a limited set of transmission codes and
typewriter A typewriter is a mechanical Mechanical may refer to: Machine * Mechanical system A machine is any physical system with ordered structural and functional properties. It may represent human-made or naturally occurring device molecular ...

typewriter
s with a limited set of keys influenced punctuation subtly. For example, curved quotes and
apostrophe The apostrophe ( or ) is a punctuation Punctuation (or sometimes interpunction) is the use of spacing, conventional signs (called punctuation marks), and certain typographical devices as aids to the understanding and correct reading of wri ...

apostrophe
s were all collapsed into two characters (' and "). The
hyphen The hyphen is a punctuation Punctuation (or sometimes interpunction) is the use of spacing, conventional signs (called punctuation marks), and certain typographical devices as aids to the understanding and correct reading of written text, ...
,
minus sign The plus and minus signs, and , are mathematical symbol A mathematical symbol is a figure or a combination of figures that is used to represent a mathematical object A mathematical object is an abstract concept arising in mathematics. In the u ...
, and dashes of various widths have been collapsed into a single character (-), sometimes repeated to represent a long dash. The
spaces
spaces
of different widths available to professional typesetters were generally replaced by a single full-character width space, with typefaces monospaced. In some cases a typewriter keyboard didn't include an exclamation point (!) but this was constructed by the
overstrike In typography Typography is the art and technique of arranging type to make written language A written language is the representation of a spoken or gestural language A language is a structured system of communication used by ...
of an apostrophe and a period; the original
Morse code Morse code is a method used in telecommunication Telecommunication is the transmission of information by various types of technologies over wire A wire is a single usually cylindrical A cylinder (from Greek Greek may refer to: ...
did not have an exclamation point. These simplifications have been carried forward into digital writing, with
teleprinter A teleprinter (teletypewriter, teletype or TTY) is an electromechanical device that can be used to send and receive typed messages through various communications channels, in both point-to-point (telecommunications), point-to-point and point- ...
s and the
ASCII ASCII ( ), abbreviated from American Standard Code for Information Interchange, is a character encoding Character encoding is the process of assigning numbers to graphical Graphics (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, ...
character set essentially supporting the same characters as typewriters. Treatment of whitespace in
HTML The HyperText Markup Language, or HTML is the standard markup language #REDIRECT Markup language In computer text processing, a markup language is a system for annotation, annotating a document in a way that is Syntax (logic), syntacticall ...

HTML
discouraged the practice (in English prose) of putting two full spaces after a full stop, since a single or double space would appear the same on the screen. (Some style guides now discourage double spaces, and some electronic writing tools, including Wikipedia's software, automatically collapse double spaces to single.) The full traditional set of typesetting tools became available with the advent of
desktop publishing Desktop publishing (DTP) is the creation of documents using page layout software on a personal ("desktop") personal computer, computer. It was first used almost exclusively for print publications, but now it also assists in the creation of variou ...
and more sophisticated
word processor A word processor (WP) is a device or computer program that provides for input, editing, formatting, and output of text, often with some additional features. Early word processors were stand-alone devices dedicated to the function, but current ...
s. Despite the widespread adoption of character sets like
Unicode Unicode, formally the Unicode Standard, is an information technology Technical standard, standard for the consistent character encoding, encoding, representation, and handling of Character (computing), text expressed in most of the world's wri ...

Unicode
that support the punctuation of traditional typesetting, writing forms like
text messages Text messaging, or texting, is the act of composing and sending electronic messages, typically consisting of alphabetic and numeric characters, between two or more users of mobile device A mobile device (or handheld computer) is a computer ...
tend to use the simplified ASCII style of punctuation, with the addition of new non-text characters like
emoji An emoji ( ; plural emoji or emojis) is a pictogram A pictogram, also called a pictogramme, pictograph, or simply picto, and in computer usage an icon An icon (from the Greek language, Greek 'image, resemblance') is a religious wor ...

emoji
. Informal text speak tends to drop punctuation when not needed, including some ways that would be considered errors in more formal writing. In the computer era, punctuation characters were recycled for use in
programming languages A programming language is a formal language comprising a set of Formal language#Words over an alphabet, strings that produce various kinds of Machine code, machine code output. Programming languages are one kind of computer language, and are us ...
and
URL A Uniform Resource Locator (URL), colloquially termed a web address, is a reference to a web resource that specifies its location on a computer network A computer network is a set of computer A computer is a machine that can be pr ...

URL
s. Due to its use in
email upThe email_address.html"_;"title="at_sign,_a_part_of_every_SMTP_email_address">at_sign,_a_part_of_every_SMTP_email_address Electronic_mail_(email_or_e-mail)_is_a_method_of_exchanging_messages_("mail")_between_people_using_electronic_dev ...

email
and
Twitter Twitter is an American microblogging Microblogging is an online Broadcasting, broadcast medium that exists as a specific form of blogging. A micro-blog differs from a traditional blog in that its content is typically smaller in both actu ...

Twitter
handles, the
at sign The at sign, , is normally read aloud as "at"; it is also commonly called the at symbol, commercial at or address sign. It is used as an accounting Accounting or Accountancy is the measurement ' Measurement is the number, numerical quant ...

at sign
(@) has gone from an obscure character mostly used by sellers of bulk commodities (10 pounds @$2.00 per pound), to a very common character in common use for both technical routing and an abbreviation for "at". The
tilde The tilde (
in the American Heritage dictionary
), or , is a

tilde
(~), in moveable type only used in combination with vowels, for mechanical reasons ended up as a separate key on mechanical typewriters, and like @ it has been put to completely new uses.


In English

There are two major styles of punctuation in English: British or American. These two styles differ mainly in the way in which they handle quotation marks, particularly in conjunction with other punctuation marks. In British English, punctuation marks such as periods and commas are placed inside the quotation mark only if they are part of what is being quoted, and placed outside the closing quotation mark if part of the containing sentence. In American English, however, such punctuation is generally placed inside the closing quotation mark regardless. This rule varies for other punctuation marks; for example, American English follows the British English rule when it comes to semicolons, colons, question marks, and exclamation points. The serial comma is used much more often in the United States than in England.


Other languages

Other
languages of Europe Most languages of Europe belong to the Indo-European language family The Indo-European languages are a language family A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech ( spoken language), gestures ...

languages of Europe
use much the same punctuation as English. The similarity is so strong that the few variations may confuse a native English reader.
Quotation mark Quotation marks, also known as quotes, quote marks, speech marks, inverted commas, or talking marks, are punctuation Punctuation (or sometimes interpunction) is the use of spacing, conventional signs (called punctuation marks), and cer ...
s are particularly variable across European languages. For example, in and
Russian Russian refers to anything related to Russia, including: *Russians (русские, ''russkiye''), an ethnic group of the East Slavic peoples, primarily living in Russia and neighboring countries *Rossiyane (россияне), Russian language term ...
, quotes would appear as: (in French, each "double punctuation", as the
guillemet Guillemets (, also , , ) are a pair of punctuation marks in the form of sideways double chevrons, and , used as quotation mark Quotation marks, also known as quotes, quote marks, speech marks, inverted commas, or talking marks, are p ...
, requires a
non-breaking space In word processing In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of lin ...
; in Russian it does not). In of
France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a transcontinental country This is a list of countries located on more than one continent A continent is one of several large landmasses ...

France
, the signs : ; ? and ! are always preceded by a thin unbreakable space. In
Canada Canada is a country in the northern part of North America North America is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, ...

Canada
, this is only the case for :. In
Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of ...
, the question mark is written as the English semicolon, while the functions of the colon and semicolon are performed by a raised point , known as the (). In
Georgian Georgian may refer to: Common meanings * Anything related to, or originating from Georgia (country) **Georgians, an indigenous Caucasian ethnic group **Georgian language, a Kartvelian language spoken by Georgians **Georgian scripts, three scripts ...
, three dots, , were formerly used as a sentence or paragraph divider. It is still sometimes used in calligraphy.
Spanish Spanish may refer to: * Items from or related to Spain: **Spaniards, a nation and ethnic group indigenous to Spain **Spanish language **Spanish cuisine Other places * Spanish, Ontario, Canada * Spanish River (disambiguation), the name of several ...

Spanish
and Asturian (both of them
Romance languages The Romance languages, less commonly Latin or Neo-Latin languages, are the modern languages that evolved from Vulgar Latin Vulgar Latin, also known as Popular or Colloquial Latin, is non-literary Literature broadly is any collection of w ...

Romance languages
used in
Spain , image_flag = Bandera de España.svg , image_coat = Escudo de España (mazonado).svg , national_motto = , national_anthem = , image_map = , map_caption = , image_map2 ...

Spain
) use an inverted question mark at the beginning of a question and the normal question mark at the end, as well as an inverted exclamation mark at the beginning of an exclamation and the normal exclamation mark at the end.
Armenian Armenian may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to Armenia, a country in the South Caucasus region of Eurasia * Armenians, the national people of Armenia, or people of Armenian descent ** Armenian language, the Indo-European language spoken ...
uses several punctuation marks of its own. The full stop is represented by a colon, and vice versa; the exclamation mark is represented by a diagonal similar to a tilde , while the question mark resembles an unclosed circle placed after the last vowel of the word.
Arabic Arabic (, ' or , ' or ) is a Semitic language The Semitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family originating in the Middle East The Middle East is a list of transcontinental countries, transcontinental region ...

Arabic
,
Urdu Urdu (; ur, , ALA-LC ALA-LC (American Library Association The American Library Association (ALA) is a nonprofit organization A nonprofit organization (NPO), also known as a non-business entity, not-for-profit organization, or nonpr ...

Urdu
, and
Persian Persian may refer to: * People and things from Iran, historically called ''Persia'' in the English language ** Persians, Persian people, the majority ethnic group in Iran, not to be conflated with the Iranian peoples ** Persian language, an Iranian ...
—written from right to left—use a reversed question mark: , and a reversed comma: . This is a modern innovation; pre-modern Arabic did not use punctuation.
Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is regarded as one of the spoken languages of the Israelites and their longest-survivi ...
, which is also written from right to left, uses the same characters as in English, and . Originally,
Sanskrit Sanskrit (; attributively , ; nominalization, nominally , , ) is a classical language of South Asia that belongs to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European languages. It arose in South Asia after its predecessor langua ...

Sanskrit
had no punctuation. In the 17th century, Sanskrit and
Marathi Marathi may refer to: *Marathi people, an Indo-Aryan ethno-linguistic group of Maharashtra, India *Marathi language, the Indo-Aryan language spoken by the Marathi people *Palaiosouda, also known as Marathi, a small island in Greece See also

...
, both written using
Devanagari Devanagari ( ; , , Sanskrit pronunciation: ), also called Nagari (),Kathleen Kuiper (2010), The Culture of India, New York: The Rosen Publishing Group, , page 83 is a left-to-right abugida, based on the ancient Brahmi script, ''Brāhmī'' sc ...

Devanagari
, started using the vertical bar to end a line of prose and double vertical bars in verse. Punctuation was not used in
Chinese Chinese can refer to: * Something related to China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by population, world's most populous country, with a populat ...
,
Japanese Japanese may refer to: * Something from or related to Japan Japan ( ja, 日本, or , and formally ) is an island country An island country or an island nation is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or ...

Japanese
,
Korean Korean may refer to: People and culture * Koreans Koreans ( South Korean: , , North Korean: , , ; see names of Korea There are various names of Korea in use today, all derived from ancient kingdoms and dynasties. The modern English name " ...
and
Vietnamese Vietnamese may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to Vietnam, a country in Southeast Asia ** A citizen of Vietnam. See Demographics of Vietnam. * Vietnamese people, or Kinh people, a Southeast Asian ethnic group native to Vietnam ** Oversea ...

Vietnamese
Chu Nom Chu or CHU may refer to: Chinese history * Chu (state) Chu, or Ch'u in Wade–Giles romanization, (, Hanyu Pinyin: Chǔ, Old Chinese: ''*s-r̥aʔ'') was a Zhou dynasty ancient Chinese states, vassal state. Their first ruler was King Wu ...

Chu Nom
writing until the adoption of punctuation from the West in the late 19th and early 20th century. In unpunctuated texts, the grammatical structure of sentences in classical writing is inferred from context. Most punctuation marks in modern Chinese, Japanese, and Korean have similar functions to their English counterparts; however, they often look different and have different customary rules. In the Indian subcontinent, is sometimes used in place of colon or after a subheading. Its origin is unclear, but could be a remnant of the
British Raj The British Raj (; from ''rāj'', literally, "rule" in Sanskrit Sanskrit (; attributively , ; nominalization, nominally , , ) is a classical language of South Asia that belongs to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the In ...

British Raj
. Another punctuation common in the Indian Subcontinent for writing monetary amounts is the use of or after the number. For example, Rs. 20/- or Rs. 20/= implies 20 rupees whole.
Thai Thai or THAI may refer to: * Of or from Thailand, a country in Southeast Asia ** Thai people, the dominant ethnic group of Thailand ** Thai language, a Tai-Kadai language spoken mainly in and around Thailand *** Thai script *** Thai (Unicode block) ...

Thai
, ,
Lao__NOTOC__ Lao may refer to: Laos * Something of, from, or related to Laos, a country in Southeast Asia * Lao people (people from Laos, or of Lao descent) * The Lao language * Lao script, the writing system used to write the Lao language ** Lao (Un ...

Lao
and Burmese did not use punctuation until the adoption of punctuation from the West in the 20th century. Blank spaces are more frequent than full stops or commas.


Novel punctuation marks


Interrobang

In 1962, American advertising executive Martin K. Speckter proposed the interrobang (‽), a combination of the question mark and exclamation point, to mark rhetorical questions or questions stated in a tone of disbelief. Although the new punctuation mark was widely discussed in the 1960s, it failed to achieve widespread use.


"Love point" and similar marks

In 1966, the French author
Hervé Bazin Hervé Bazin (; 17 April 191117 February 1996) was a French writer, whose best-known novels covered semi-autobiographical topics of teenage rebellion and dysfunctional families. Biography Bazin, born Jean-Pierre Hervé-Bazin in Angers, Maine-et ...
proposed a series of six innovative punctuation marks in his book ("Let's pluck the bird", 1966). These were: * the "irony point" or "" (: ) * the "love point" (: ) * the "conviction point" (: ) * the "authority point" (: ) * the "acclamation point" (: ) * the "doubt point" (: )


"Question comma", "exclamation comma"

An international
patent application A patent application is a request pending at a patent office A patent office is a government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a State (polity), state. In the case of its br ...

patent application
was filed, and published in 1992 under World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) number WO9219458, for two new punctuation marks: the "question comma" and the "exclamation comma". The ''question comma'' has a comma instead of the dot at the bottom of a question mark, while the ''exclamation comma'' has a comma in place of the point at the bottom of an exclamation mark. These were intended for use as question and exclamation marks within a sentence, a function for which normal question and exclamation marks can also be used, but which may be considered obsolescent. The patent application entered into the national phase only in Canada. It was advertised as lapsing in Australia on 27 January 1994 and in Canada on 6 November 1995.CIPO – Patent – 2102803 – Financial Transactions


See also

*
James while John had had had had had had had had had had had a better effect on the teacher "James while John had had had had had had had had had had had a better effect on the teacher" is an English Sentence (linguistics), sentence used to demonstrate Ambiguity#Lexical ambiguity, lexical ambiguity and the necessity of punctuation, which ...
, a word puzzle *
Obelism Obelism is the practice of annotating manuscripts with marks set in the margins. Modern obelisms are used by editors when proofreading a manuscript or typescript. Examples are "stet" (which is Latin for "Let it stand", used in this context to mea ...
, the practice of annotating manuscripts with marks set in the margins *
Orthography An orthography is a set of conventions for writing Writing is a medium of human communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in relation with") is "an apparent answer to the painful divisions b ...
, the category of written conventions that includes punctuation as well as spelling, hyphenation, capitalization, word breaks, and emphasis *
Scribal abbreviation Scribal abbreviations or sigla (singular Singular may refer to: * Singular, the grammatical number In linguistics, grammatical number is a grammatical category of nouns, pronouns, adjectives, and verb agreement (linguistics), agreement th ...
s, abbreviations used by ancient and medieval scribes writing in Latin * Terminal punctuation * History of sentence spacing for typographical details *
Tironian notes Tironian notes ( la, notae Tironianae, links=no; or Tironian shorthand) is a system of shorthand Shorthand is an abbreviated symbolic writing method that increases speed and brevity of writing as compared to longhand{{Short pages monitor