Wednesday, 15 September 2021 07:10

Punctuation and Capitalization - Class 8 English Revision Notes

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Capitalization is the writing of a word with its first letter as an upper case and the remaining letters in lower case. The following are the cases when capitalization is used:

  1. Abbreviations
    Abbreviations begin with a capital letter.
    1. Title of persons
      rof George Saitoti
      Mr. Stephen Kiama
    2. Words used as addresses 
      St. (street)
      Ave. (Avenue)
      Note that all the above abbreviations end with a period. Miss is not an abbreviation, so it doesn’t end with a period.
    3. Words used as business
      Co. (Company) 
      Corp. (Corporation)
    4. Some abbreviations are written in all capital letters, with a letter standing for each important word.
      P.O. (Post Office)
      USA (United States of America)
    5. Initials of names of persons
      D.M. Weyama
  2. Titles of books, newspapers, magazines, TV shows and movies.
    The Minister’s Daughter (book)
    Tahidi High (TV show)
    The Daily Nation( newspaper)
    Capitalize the first and last words only. Do not capitalize little words such as a, an, the, but, as, if, and, or, nor etc
  3. Titles of shorts stories, songs, articles, book chapters and most poems.
    Half a Day (short story)
    Kigeugeu (song)
  4. Religious names and terms
    the Bible
    Do not capitalize the words god and goddess when they refer to mythological deities.
  5. Major words in geographical names
    Continents – Africa, Asia, Europe, Australia
    Water bodies – the Indian Ocean,
  6. Names of organisations and institutions
    Kianjege West Secondary School, United Nations, University of Nairobi, Nairobi Women’s Hospital
    Note that here you capitalize only the important words. Do not capitalize such words such as a, in, and of. Do not capitalize such words as school, college, church and hospital when they are not used as parts of names.
    Example: There will be a beauty contest at school
  7. Months, days and holidays
    Labour Day
    Do not capitalize names of seasons: autumn, summer, winter, spring
  8. Languages, races, nationalities and religions
  9. The first word of every sentence
    What an exciting day it was!
  10. The pronoun I
    What should I do next?
  11. Proper Nouns
    Lang’ata Cemetery
    Ann Pauline Nyaguthii Kangaita
    Women’s Group
    Muhigia Teachers Sacco
  12. Proper Adjectives
    We ate at an Italian restaurant
    She is a German
  13. The first word in greetings and the closing of a letter.
    Dear Mark,
    Yours sincerely,
  14. Quotations
    Jamlick exclaimed, “This book would make a great movie!”
    Where,” asked the stranger, “is the post office?”
    It’s late,” Billy said. “Let’s go home!”
  15. First word of each main topic and subtopic in an outline
    1. Parts of speech
      1. Nouns
        1. Proper nouns


Punctuation is the system of symbols that we use to separate sentences and parts of sentences, and to make their meaning clear. Each symbol is called a punctuation mark. For example (. , ! - : etc)
Punctuation marks can be grouped into:

  1. End marks
  2. The comma
  3. The semicolon and the colon
  4. The hyphen
  5. The apostrophe
  6. Quotation mark
  1. End Marks

    There are three kinds of end marks: the full stop (.), the question mark (?), and the exclamation mark (!). End marks show where sentences end
    1. The full stop (.)

      A full stop is used to end a complete sentence. We use a full stop to end:
      • a declarative sentence- a sentence that makes a state
        The highest skyscraper in Nairobi is Times Tower.
      • an imperative sentence – a sentence that makes a request or tells someone to do something.
        Please climb the stairs carefully.
        Note: An imperative sentence is followed by an exclamation mark when it expresses a
        strong emotion.
        Be careful!
      • at the end of an indirect question – one that tells what someone asked, without using the person’s exact words.
        Other uses of the full stop
        Full stops are also used:
      • after initials and after most abbreviations
        L.L. Coo J.
        Mr. Sammy Njagi
        11:00 A.M.
        Note that some abbreviations do not require full stops:
        M (metres) FM (frequency modulation) Km kilometres)
      • after each number or letter that shows a division of an outline or precedes an item in a list.
        Outline                       List
        1.Parts of speech      1. Water – borne diseases
          A. Nouns                  2. Air-borne disease
      • between numerals representing dollars, cents, before a decimal and in percentages
        $ 25.65
    2. The question mark (?)

      The question mark is used at the end of an interrogative sentence (a sentence that asks a question).
      When was the Times Tower built?
      Who built it?
    3. The Exclamation mark (!)

      The exclamation mark is used at the end of the exclamatory sentence and after an interjection. (An exclamatory sentence expresses strong feeling, emotion or emphasis. An interjection is a word or group of words that expresses strong feelings).
      Exclamatory sentence: Oh, what a tall building it is!
      Interjections: Superb! Fantastic! Impressive!
      An exclamation mark can also be used at the end of an imperative sentence that expresses strong feeling.
      Sit! And stay in that chair if you know what’s good for you!
  2. The Comma

    There are a number of uses of the comma in English. A comma generally tells the reader where to pause. They are used:
    • to separate words in a series except the last
      The three or four items in a series can be nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, phrases, independent clauses, or other parts of sentences.
      Nouns: John, Jim, Jack walk to school everyday.
      Verbs: He located, patched, and sealed the leak in the tyre.
      Adverbs: She walked quickly, steadily, and calmly.
      Prepositional phrases: He walked through the park, over the bridge, and onto the streets.
      Independent clauses: The match was over, the crowd cheered, and Barcelona received the first- place trophy.
      Adjectives: The fresh, ripe fruit was placed in a bowl.
      Note in the above examples that a comma must be used just before the conjunction.
    • Before the conjunction in a compound sentence
      Some students were taking their lunch, but others were studying.
      Marto photographed the accident scene, and he sold the pictures to the newspaper.
      Would she be a lawyer, or would she be a doctor?
      Note: A comma is not required in very short compound sentence in which the parts
      are joined by and. However, always use a comma before the conjunctions but and or.
      Marto photographed the accident scene and Toni reported it.
      Marto photographed the accident scene, but Toni reported it.
      Note also: A comma is not required before the conjunction that joins the parts of a compound verb unless there are more than two parts.
      Mary entered and won the beauty contest.
      That camera focuses, flashes, and rewinds automatically.
    • after introductory words phrases or clauses
      Special elements add specific information to a sentence, but they are not essential. A comma is used to separate a special element from the rest of the sentence.
      Word: Cautiously, he entered the building
      Phrase: After his failure, he disappeared from the public scene.
      Clause: Because he had practised daily, he presented his new song perfectly.
      Note: If the pause after a short introductory element is very brief, you may omit the comma.
      At first he was unsure of his singing ability.
      Finally it was his turn.
      Commas are also used after introductory words such as yes, no, oh and well when they begin a sentence.
      Well, it’s just too cold out there.
      No, it isn’t seven yet.
      Oh, you have spilled the milk.
    • with interrupters
      Interrupters are words that break, or interrupt the flow of thought in a sentence. The commas are used before and after the interrupter to indicate pauses.
      I didn’t expect, however, to lose the job.
      So many people, assumed, sing as well as he does.
      He was chosen, nevertheless, as the new band leader.
    • to set off nouns of direct address
      Yes, Kamau, you can borrow my book.
      Serah, do you know where I kept my phone?
      How is your leg, grandpa?
    • to set off the spoken words in a direct sentence or quotation from the speech tag
      Jackson said, “After my injury I had to learn to walk again.”
      “The therapists urged me to keep trying,” he continued.
      If the speech tag interrupts the spoken words commas are used after the last word of the first part of the spoken words and after the last word in the speech tag.
      “After a while,” he added, “I was walking without a cane”.
      Note: When a sentence is indirect or reported, no commas are used.
      He added that after a while he was walking without a cane.
    • when writing dates
      Place a comma after the day of the month.
      July 3, 1965 December 12, 2010
    • when referring to geographical location.
      Place a comma between the name of the town or city and the name of the state, district, or country.
      Kibingoti, Kirinyaga County   
      Mombasa, Kenya
    • after the closing of a friendly or business letter.
      Dear Rose,
      Yours sincerely,
  3. The Semicolon (;) and the Colon(:)

    1. The semicolon (;)
      The semicolon is used:
      • to separate the parts of a compound sentence when no conjunction is used.
        Mountain climbing is exciting; it can also be dangerous.
        Note that the semicolon replaces the comma and the coordinating conjunction. Conjunctions that are commonly replaced by semicolons are and, but, or, for, and nor.
      • before a conjunctive adverb that joins the clauses of a compound sentence (conjunctive adverbs are words like therefore, however, hence, so, then, moreover, nevertheless, yet, consequently, and besides).
        The competition takes place in July; however, I prefer August.
      • to separate the parts of a series when commas occurs within the parts.
        Last year I flew to Johannesburg, South Africa; Cairo, Egypt; and Kingston, Jamaica.
  4. The Colon (:)

    The colon is used:
    • to introduce a list of items
      My school bag contains the following items: exercise books, text books, pencils, pens, a geometrical set, and a packet of crayons.
    • after the greeting of a business letter
      Dear Mr. Mututho:
    • between numerals that represent hours and minutes and between chapter and verse in a biblical reference
      9:00 A.M.
      6:00 P.M.
      Exodus 2:1-3
  5. The Hyphen (-)

    The hyphen is used:
    • to divide a word at the end of a line of writing.
      Note that only words with two or more syllables may be divided at the end of a line and words should be divided only between syllables.
      When walking along the streets of Naivasha Town, he met his friend, Wainaina.
      Never divide a word of one syllable and do not divide words to leave a single letter at the end or beginning of a line.
      Incorrect: a-ttraction
      Correct: attra-ction.
    • in compound adjectives that come before the nouns they modify and in certain compound nouns.
      Samuel Wanjiru was a world-famous athlete.
      She is my sister-in-law.
    • in compound numbers from twenty-one through ninety-nine and in fractions.
      seventy-three relatives one-quarter full
  6. The Apostrophe (’)

    The apostrophe is used:
    • to form the possessive of a singular noun
      Add an apostrophe and an s.
      the baby’s cot
      James’s car
    • to form the possessive of a plural noun that does not end in s
      Add an apostrophe and an s.
    • to form the possessive of a plural noun that ends in s – Add only the apostrophe.
    • to form the possessive of an indefinite pronoun
      Use an apostrophe and an s.
      Note: Never use an apostrophe with a possessive pronoun like our, yours, hers, theirs.
    • in names of organisations and business,
      Show possession in the last word only
      the United Nations’ brochure
    • in hyphenated terms
      Show possession in the last word only.
      My mother-in-law’s photograph album
    • in cases of joint ownership
      Show possession in the last word only.
      Peter and Patrick’s Limousine
    • in forming contractions
      In contractions, apostrophes replace omitted letters.
      she’s = she is
      aren’t = are not
      I’m = I am
    • To show that part of a date has been omitted
      The tribal clashes of ’08 (the tribal clashes of 2008)
      The’82 coup attempt (the 1982 coup attempt)
  7. Quotation Marks (“ “)

    The quotation marks are used:
    • to enclose the spoken words in a direct sentence. Indirect sentences need no quotation marks.
      Direct speech: The presidential candidate promised, “Creating new jobs for the youths will be my first priority.”
      Indirect speech: The presidential candidate promised that creating new jobs would be his first priority.
      1. Always begin a direct quotation with a capital letter.
        The minister said, “You must conserve our environment.”
      2. When the spoken words are divided by the speech tag, begin the second part of the quotation with a small letter.
        “Bring me the money,” said the moneylender, “before the end of the day.”
        If the second part of the quotation is a complete sentence, the first word of this sentence is capitalized.
        “I am scared,” said the borrower. “That money lender is a brute.”
      3. Place commas and fullstops inside quotation marks
        Place semicolons and colons outside quotation marks.
        “Last month,” the borrower explained, “I borrowed some money from the moneylender.”
        Carol said to the borrower, “And you refused to repay back on time”; however, the borrower did not agree.
      4. Place question marks and exclamation marks inside quotation marks if they belong to the quotation. Place them outside if they do not belong to the quotation.
        Carol asked, “How much money did you borrow?”
        Did the borrower say, “I can’t remember”?
        “You are a fool!” exclaimed Carol.
      5. Use single quotation marks to enclose a title or quotation within a quotation.
        “Carol heard the borrower say, ‘I can’t remember’ before she lost her temper.”
        If the tile or quotation within the quotation ends the sentence, use both the single and the double quotation marks after the last word of a sentence.
        “Carol heard the borrower say, ‘I can’t remember.’”
      6. In a quotation of more than one paragraph, use quotation marks at the beginning of each paragraph and the end of the final paragraph.

Question Tags

A question tag or a tag question is a phrase that is added at the end of a statement to turn into a question. When a speaker uses a question tag at the end of a statement, he/she is seeking for approval, confirmation or correction.

APPROVAL: I look smart today, don’t I? Yes you do.
CORFIRMATION: These are the new students, aren’t they? Yes they are.
CORRECTION: I paid your money yesterday, didn’t I ? No you didn’t

Many learners face a problem of supplying the correct question tags to sentences. This is because they fail to observe the following rules of question tags:

  1. A comma must be put to separate the statement with the question tag. A question mark must be placed at the end of the question tag.
    Rufftone has released a new album, hasn’t he?
    He is pushing for a decision by tomorrow, isn’t he?
  2. The auxiliary verb in the statement must be repeated in the question tag
    Neson Mandela was in prison for 27 years, wasn’t he?
    The people of South Africa have lost a great hero, haven’t they?
  3. When there is no auxiliary verb in the statement, the appropriate form of the auxiliary verb Do must be used in the question tag
    Mark Francis wakes up very early, doesn’t he?
    Peter Bryan bought an I-pad phone, didn’t he ?
  4. The subject in the statement must be repeated in the question tag. If it is a noun in the statement, it changes to the appropriate pronoun. If it is a pronoun in the statement, it remains a pronoun in the question tag.
    Fatou Bensouda is prosecutor in ICC, isn’t she?
    She does her work meticulously, doesn’t she?
  5. When the statement is positive ( i.e. It does not have the word not in it), the question tag must be negative ( i.e. must use the negative word not) and visa versa.
    David Rudisha has broken another record, hasn’t he?
    Cathrerine Ndereba hasn’t been very active, has she?
    Douglas Wakiihuri does not run any more, does he?
    Ezekiel Kemboi entertains the audience after winning, doesn’t he?
    You will note form the above examples that the auxiliary verb is usually contrated (joined) with the negative indicator not when using question tags.
    However, this does not apply when using primary auxiliary verb am and the modal auxiliary verbs will and shall. Am does not allow contraction with not, will and shall usually change their forms to allow contraction.
    WRONG : am the next speaker, amn’t I?
    CORRECT: I am the nest speaker, am I not?
    WRONG: They will be late for church, willn’t they?
    CORRECT: They will be late for church, won’t they?
    WRONG: We shall attend the Memorial service, willn’t we?
    CORRECT: we shall attend the memorial service, shan’t we?
  6. Whereas there is no inversion in the statement, inversion must occur in the question tag i.e. the auxiliary verb comes before the subject
    President Uhuru Kenyatta has won the case, hasn’t he?
    Subject verb                             verb                 verb subject
    He can now relax and attend to his duties, can’t he?
    Subject verb                                                 verb subject
  7. For sentences that are inform of requests and commands, the question tags will commonly take the auxiliary verb will or shall followed by the appropriate pronoun.
    Please help me with your pen, will you?
    Let us go for a swim, shall we?
    Bring me that chair, will you?
    Stop that noise, will you?
    Kneel down right away, will you?

Those are the rules that govern question tags and if followed well, the learners will not have any problems with question tags.

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Read 1797 times Last modified on Wednesday, 15 September 2021 08:41