Chinese Punctuation - Use of Punctuation Marks

Use of Punctuation Marks

Several punctuation marks have ranges of use that differ from the way they are used in English, though some functions may overlap.

  • , The comma is used to join together clauses that deal with a certain topic or line of thinking. As such, what would appear to an English speaker to be a comma splice is very commonly seen in Chinese writing. Often, the entirety of a long paragraph can consist of clauses joined by commas, with the sole period coming only at the end. Unlike in English, a comma is allowed between a subject and its predicate.
  • ? The question mark is used as in English, with the additional function of being used with indirect questions. Examples: "Whether he was of legal age? was the key question." "I was wondering where you went?"
  • ; The semicolon is frequently used to demarcate parallel structures in a paragraph.
  • 「...」 Quotation marks, in addition to being used around quotations, are also commonly used for emphasis and to indicate proper nouns and titles.
  • —— The use of a second em dash to close a parenthetical thought is rare. Instead, a comma is usually used, or sometimes no punctuation at all.

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