A Crash Course in Punctuation
This topic does not, obviously, relate strictly to poetry, but it comes up often enough in the discussion of poetry (with enough confusion attached) that I thought this might be useful. It is not, by any means, to be considered exhaustive, but should cover most of the situations that arise. I will add to this list as the need arises, whether through questions, requests or other situations. I hope that you find this helpful. As always, your comments and questions are welcome.
Period - This is used at the end of a complete sentence. It can also be used to end a sentence fragment because the "missing" elements are understood.
Colon - This can be used in a couple of situations:
- to introduce a list: "I like the following sports: hockey, baseball and tennis."
- to join two sentences when the second explains the first: "I don't like to beans: they make me fart."
Semicolon - This is also used most often to join two complete sentences which are so closely related that the writer wants them to be considered together: "My wife thinks that I am unreasonable; I know
that she is."
Comma - This is used most often to separate grammatical units within a sentence that are not complete sentences (independent clauses) and cannot stand on their own, such as dependent clauses or items in a list.
As I wrote above, I will be happy add to this short guide as the occasion arises.
Your questions and requests are more than welcome.
To see a short discussion of punctuation specifically in relation to poetry, please see "Reference: Punctuation in Poetry" http://www.writersbeat.com/showthread.php?t=16295