Punctuation (formerly sometimes called pointing) is the use of spacing, conventional signs and certain typographical devices as aids to the understanding and correct reading of handwritten and printed text whether read silently or aloud. Another description is "The practice action or system of inserting points or other small marks into texts in order to aid interpretation; division of text into sentences, clauses, etc., by means of such marks."
In written English, punctuation is vital to disambiguate the meaning of sentences. For example:
"woman, without her man, is nothing" (emphasizing the importance of men)
"woman: without her, man is nothing" (emphasizing the importance of women)
"eats shoots and leaves" (which means the subject consumes plant growths)
"eats, shoots, and leaves" (which means the subject eats first, then fires a weapon, and then leaves the scene).
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