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Punctuation Practice for Writing

Below is an example of a complex sentence which does not have any punctuation. Not only does it lack commas but it also lacks full stops – it’s too long. This is a mistake that many students make. They think that the longer the sentence, the higher the band score – unfortunately this is not true. Check the three questions to help you decide how to punctuate it.

  • How many sentences do you think it should be?
  • Where would you put the full stops?
  • Where would you put the commas?

Write this sentence again using correct punctuation.

Firstly while it is thought that over population can be solved by limiting the number of children people can have it would be better to limit the number of people moving from rural to urban areas which is where the biggest problem lies because many people are moving to cities in search of employment so if the government tried to create more jobs in the countryside the problem would be solved almost instantly.

Answer

Firstly, while it is thought that over population can be solved by limiting the number of children people can have, it would be better to limit the number of people moving from rural to urban areas. This is where the biggest problem lies. Many people are moving to cities in search of employment so if the government tried to create more jobs in the countryside, the problem would be solved almost instantly.

Comments:

  1. After a linker such as “firstly” at the beginning of a sentence we usually use a comma.
  2. When you use the linker “while” or “although” at the start of a sentence, you will need a comma before the clause.
  3. The sentence using “while” is long so it is logical and necessary to have a full stop after it.
  4. The word “this” is used in order to divide the sentences and start a new one. This sentence is not long but it is still considered complex because it uses a “where” clause.
  5. The last sentence has two sentences joined with the linking word “so”. The first part is quite simple, while the second part is a second conditional which requires a comma between clauses.

 

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Comments

  1. Hi Liz,

    Your website is tremendously useful. I just would like to understand whether the sentence wrote by me uses the SEMICOLON properly. Could you please help on this as I am finding it tricky to use it.

    Sentence:
    It is believed by certain section of people that government should not be held accountable ; however, companies and individual person is responsible for cleaning the pollution which were created by them.

    My Questions:
    Basically it speaks about who should be responsible for cleaning pollution created by factories. Government or Companies?

    Is my sentence complete?
    Does my sentence completely conveys the meaning? or does it look incomplete after the semicolon? Your suggestion please.

  2. Hi Liz, just wanted to ask, is it true that if I use the same words on my writing(even the articles/twice) it is no longer counted on the 150/250? Thanks!

    • Do you think the examiner will first count all the “a”, then count all the “the, then count all the “an” – of course not. The examiner does not have time to do that. Each word is counted – repeated words, small words – all words. “a man walked into a restaurant” = 6 words.

  3. Firstly, it is thought that overpopulation can be solved by limiting the number of children people can have. It would be better to limit the number of people moving from rural to urban areas which are where the biggest problem lies. Many people are moving to cities in search of employment. So, if the government tried to create more jobs in the countryside the problem would be solved almost instantly.

  4. hi
    could we use pencil ?

  5. are the words ” a, an , the, to …etc ” counted in IELTS task 1 and 2 ?

  6. Hi Liz, your teaching style is very clear and full-hearted. This must be the best IELTS site in the entire Internet. I am planning to take my test on January 6, 2018. Sadly, I still unable to achieve full 6.0 on writing task. Hopefully, I can apply your tips when the time comes
    Keep up the good jobs!:)

  7. Firstly, while it is thought that over population can be solved by limiting the number of children. It would be better to limit the number of people moving from rural to urban areas,which is the biggest problem. Many people are moving to cities in search of job so if government tries to provide job in rural areas, the problem can be solved to large extent.
    is this a good try?

  8. Well done again Liz. Please, I find it difficult to know where, and where to put “that/ or which.
    Then, which is the correct way of writing… Weldone, well done, or well- done.

    Thanks.

  9. Mohamed Elnakib says:

    Hi Liz ,

    thank you so much for your effort, you’re a life saver , one question though ; what about the Oxford comma ? will it lower my score if i don’t use it ?
    to be clear i mean the last comma in the following example : ” I saw a duck , a cow ,and a dragon while running yesterday. “

    • Usually we only use it when we have a complicated sentence and the comma helps distinguish the end of a list but in your case, above, it is not needed.

  10. Hi Liz
    Even though the first part of last sentence is quite simple and small, I still think a semicolon could be placed before “so” as there are two independant clauses on both sides.

    Please explain !

  11. Thats great ! !:) ,thanks 4 lessons Liz ! !

  12. As per the FANBOYS we should put comma before ‘so’. So does it not applied to your last sentence ?

  13. Hi again,

    I think linking without linkers is acceptable in informal writing/speaking. Am I wrong to point that the following sentence needs a “whom/that” linker between “children” and “people” ?

    over population can be solved by limiting the number of children people can have

    Regards,
    Anas

  14. Yes this is the one i was looking for since a week !

    Thank you so much indeed : ` Teacher ‘

  15. Very good lesson the one i needed thanks Liz

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