When do I use a punctuation mark?


As punctuation the setting of punctuation marks or word marks is used to make the syntactic, content and morphological structure of a text clear. The punctuation marks were originally used to indicate pauses in speech in the lecture or to structure a written product. In Latin literature, there were low, medium and high-set points that showed short, medium-long pauses and the end of the sentence. The comma, virgel and semicolon have been used since the Middle Ages.

Term & examples

The term is derived from Latin (interpunctio) and can be approximated with Separation by points or Intermediate point translate. As a result, the translation clearly indicates what punctuation is about: namely, the setting of periods to separate [and other punctuation marks to syntactically structure a sentence]. Let's look at an example to illustrate this.

Walther said: “I don't know!” And left the room.

In the example above there are five different punctuation marks that were used for punctuation purposes. There is that in a sentence Colon, the quotation marks, the comma and the Point at the end of the sentence. All of these signs follow the punctuation rules of German.

After the introduction of a verbatim speech it always says, without spaces, a colon. This is always followed by a space and the opening quotation marks, followed by the verbatim speech itself, which is ended with closing quotation marks. The punctuation marks of the verbatim speech itself are retained. If such a sentence continues, as in the example above, a comma must be used, whereby the sentence ends with a period. The punctuation rules help us understand.

(1)Come on, let's eat, grandma!
(2)Come on, let's eat grandma!

In this example, the punctuation is used to to clarify the meaning. The commas are set (1), it is only about an invitation to eat, whereas the commas are omitted in the second sentence (2) and is therefore asked to eat your own grandma. So punctuation can save lives.

(1)Women think men are nothing without them.
(2)Women, men think, are nothing without them.

The situation here is similar to that in the previous example. The punctuation marks change the basic message of the sentence and are therefore essential for a correct understanding of the actual content. Will the comma after think set (1), the sentence says what women think it will be after Women and Men set (2), it contains the thoughts of the man's world. So the punctuation determines the content.

Punctuation in German (Punctuation marks)

Almost every language has different rules for punctuation and sometimes separate punctuation marks. However, there is a large amount of overlap between these characters, which is why many characters that exist in German are also used in other languages. Below is an overview of the punctuation marks that, with a few exceptions, are used in German as well as in other languages.

descriptionPunctuation marksfunction
quotation marks»«« »Stands before and after the verbatim speech, can identify quotations and restrict a term.
apostropheIs an ellipsis. So it is used when a letter or a sequence of letters is omitted from a word.
bullet pointIs always at the beginning of an entry in the list. Such a list is usually formatted as a text block.
EllipsisIndicate that something has been left out. Such an omission is also known as an ellipse in linguistics (see stylistic devices).
Exclamation mark!Punctuation marks that follow exclamation, wish and request sentences, exclamation words and conditional indirect questions.
hyphenUsed to structure individual words or to connect words. Is sometimes used to split words that are too long and thus make them more readable (Example: steamship trip).
Double hyphenLike the hyphen, it is a separator. Mostly used to connect words when the single hyphen is used as a separator.
Colon:Is placed in front of a quotation, a list or the verbatim speech. In mathematical equations, it is considered a divided sign.
Question mark?Is at the end of a questionnaire. Is written without spaces at the last word of the question mark.
IndentIs placed where there are clear, longer pauses in the spoken language. Used for inserts (see parenthesis).
High point·Has the same function in Greek as the semicolon in German. Connects sentences of equal rank and separates more strongly than the comma.
InterrobangConnection of exclamation mark and question mark. Not in use today, but popular in the 1970s.
Brackets() [] {} ⟨⟩Separate individual parts of a sentence. They are always used in pairs, the opening bracket first, then the content, then the closing bracket. So serve the structure.
comma,Used to structure a sentence. Separates main and subordinate clauses and the elements of a list. Furthermore, appositions and re-enactments are separated from the sentence by a comma.
Spaces Used to delimit individual words and other content within a body of text.
Focus·It used to have the same function in Latin as today's space, separating words from one another. Such a word separator was also used in runic writing.
Point.The point marks the end of a statement. If three periods follow one another, this is known as an ellipsis.
slash/For the purpose of punctuation, the slashes were mainly used in the Middle Ages and had a similar function as the comma nowadays. (In the contribution to the Alexandrian there is a text that uses slashes for structuring.)
semicolon;Separates sentences of the same rank from one another. Produces a stronger separation than the comma, but a weaker one than the point.
Overview: The most important thing about punctuation at a glance
  • Punctuation, also called punctuation, means the placement of characters in order to structure a text. The punctuation can thus make the syntactic, content and morphological structure of the text clear.
  • There are several punctuation marks that can serve this function. Probably the most common ones Point, comma, Question mark, quotation marks, Spaces, Colon, semicolon and the apostrophe. Come less often hyphen, Indent, High point, slash, Brackets as well as the Ellipsis used.

  • Note: Interrobang was mentioned in the overview above. This is not used in German and is rarely found in other texts. Still, it's a punctuation mark.