If you are about to take the IELTS exam but your English language skills need some polishing, you are on the right page! Do you know that punctuations can affect accuracy when misused? To avoid this, you must not only be familiar with various punctuations but also their functions. Enrolling in an IELTS review center may be helpful as instructors ask you to perform writing exercises and evaluate your outputs. For instance, instructors from IELTS review centers in Baguio guide students in producing quality write-ups, focusing on accuracy especially in word choice and observing rules of grammar.
Here are five punctuations that you may not be familiar with and their functions:
1. Colon (:)
a. It introduces a list.
Example: The IELTS exam has two types: Academic and General Training.
b. It is used for emphasis.
Example: You don’t need any advice from me. You know what to do: let go.
c. It separates independent clauses when the second sentence explains or expands the first sentence.
Example: Remember this adage: It is better to have love and lost than to never have loved at all.
d. It is used in salutations in business letters.
Example: Dear Mr. Salgo:
2. Dash (–,—)
En dash (–)
a. It is used in place of “to.”
Example: The preferred schedule for the roundtable discussion is at 3:00 p.m.–5:00 p.m.
Em dash (—)
b. It separates statements that are not part of the subject.
Example: I slapped him—what was I thinking, right?—but I don’t feel guilty about it.
c. It is used in place of parentheses.
Example: In school, children learn about the phases of matter—solid, liquid, gas, plasma— and its physical and chemical properties.
d. It is sometimes used in place of a colon.
Example: Cherry blossoms, sushi and tempura—these brought them to Japan.
3. Hyphen (-)
a. It is used for compound adjectives that come before a noun.
Examples: Have you met my five-year-old boy?
Are you going to join the off-campus activity?
b. It is used for compound numbers.
Example: This year, I’m turning twenty-nine.
c. It is used to spell out fractions.
Example: I gave one-half of the cake to Edmond.
d. It is used for compounds where the vowel ending a prefix is similar to the beginning letter of the root word.
Example: I don’t think that infamous politician will be re-elected next year.
e. It is used for compounds where the root word is a proper noun.
Example: Our discussion today focused on post-World War II economics.
f. It is used for words beginning with the prefix self-.
Example: How can you put up with that self-righteous man?
g. It is used for words with the following suffixes: -based, -elect, -free, -style.
Example: I like water-based products. They’re safe to use for the skin.
Note: Avoid hyphenating adverbs that end in -ly (e.g., finely-tuned machine). However, it is okay to hyphenate adjectives that end in -ly (e.g., family-oriented TV show).
4. Parentheses ()
a. They are used for statements that are not part of the subject.
Example: Finally! We received a response from Mildred (after a few hours).
b. They are used to enclose complete sentences with punctuations.
Example: Have you read Dan Brown’s Inferno? (It was exceptional!)
5. Semicolon (;)
a. It joins two independent clauses.
Example: I am going to attend the literary conference; you should join me.
b. It separates sentences with a serial comma.
Example: I had tea, bacon and bagels for breakfast; I think I should get a salad later.
c. It is used in place of coordinating conjunctions (i.e., for, and, nor, but, or, so).
Example: I was here for more than two hours waiting for you; you didn’t even bother to call.
d. It is used before an adverb (e.g., however, thus, therefore, etc.) that introduces a complete sentence.
Example: The Office of the President has been working on that project for two years; however, it has only made little progress since its commencement.
e. It may be used as a separator when the first of two independent clauses contains a comma.
Example: When we were young, I always wanted to become a doctor and my brother wanted to become an engineer; but we both pursued different courses in college.
Note: Do not capitalize the first letter of the word that comes after the semicolon.
Punctuations may be a small concern for some, but they can be a hindrance to receiving a high band score when used inappropriately. In IELTS review centers in Baguio, instructors take pride in providing constructive feedback to their students as it helps them be aware of what areas need improvement. Students, in turn, apply what they have learned to daily discussions, whether with colleagues or co-trainees.
IELTS review centers not only teach you how to ace the exam but also provide you with information that you can actually use in daily situations. Once you get that dream job or admitted to a prestigious university abroad, you will come prepared and ready—you will no longer panic once a native speaker talks to you.
"Punctuation - Signs and Symbols." SkillsYouNeed. Accessed November 29, 2016. http://www.skillsyouneed.com/write/punctuation1.html.
"Semicolons." GrammarBook.com. Accessed November 29, 2016. http://grammarbook.com/punctuation/semicolons.asp.
"Colons." GrammarBook.com. Accessed November 29, 2016. http://grammarbook.com/punctuation/colons.asp.
"Parentheses and Brackets." GrammarBook.com. Accessed November 29, 2016. http://grammarbook.com/punctuation/parens.asp.
"Hyphens." GrammarBook.com. Accessed November 29, 2016. http://grammarbook.com/punctuation/hyphens.asp.
"Dashes." GrammarBook.com. Accessed November 29, 2016. http://grammarbook.com/punctuation/dashes.asp.
"Punctuation Marks." EnchantedLearning.com. Accessed November 29, 2016. http://www.enchantedlearning.com/grammar/punctuation/.