12. Be very careful about the right position of each phrase or clause in your sentence.


The following are curious examples of dislocations or misplacements: A piano for sale by a lady about to cross the Channel in an oak case with carved legs." "I believe that, when he died, Cardinal Mezzofanti spoke at least fifty languages." "He blew out his brains after bidding his wife good-bye with a gun." "Erected to the memory of John Phillips, accidentally shot, as a mark of affection by his brother." "The Board has resolved to erect a building large enough to accommodate 500 students three storeys high.” "Mr Carlyle has taught us that silence is golden in thirty-seven volumes."


1. Certain signs, called points, are used in sentences to mark off their different parts, and to show the relation of each part to the organic whole.

(i) Putting in the right points is called punctuation, from the Latin punctum, a point. From the same word come punctual and punctuality.

2. These points are the full stop, the colon, the semicolon, the dash, and the comma.

3. The full stop (.) or period marks the close of a sentence.

4. The colon (:) introduces (i) a new statement that may be regarded as an after-thought; or (ii) it introduces a catalogue of things; or (iii) it introduces a formal speech.


(The word colon is Greek, and means limb or member.)

(i) "Study to acquire a habit of accurate expression: no study is more important."

(ii) "Then follow excellent parables about fame as that she gathereth strength in going; that she goeth upon the ground, and yet hideth her head in the clouds; that in the day-time she sitteth in a watch-tower, and flieth most by night."-BACON.

"Mr Wilson rose and said: 'Sir, I am sorry,' etc."

5. The semicolon is employed when, for reasons of sound or of sense, two or more simple sentences are thrown into one.

(Semicolon is Greek, and means half a colon.)

(i) "In the youth of a state, arms do flourish; in the middle age of

a state, learning; and then both of them together for a time; in the declining age of a state, mechanical arts and merchandise."-BACON.

(ii) Learn from the birds what foods the thickets yield;
Learn from the beasts the physic of the field;

Thy arts of building from the bee receive;

Learn of the mole to plough, the worm to weave.”—POPE.

6. The dash is used (i) to introduce an amplification or explanation; and (ii) two dashes are often employed in place of the old parenthesis.

(i) "During the march a storm of rain, thunder, and lightning came on—a storm such as is only seen in tropical countries."

(ii) "Ribbons, buckles, buttons, pieces of gold-lace-any trifles he had worn-were stored as priceless treasures."

7. The omma is used to indicate sense or of sound.

strong pause, either of

(i) It is true that the comma is the weakest of all our stops; but there are many pauses which we ought to make in reading a sentence aloud that are not nearly strong enough to warrant a comma.

(ii) It is better to understop rather than to overstop. For example, the last part of the last sentence in the paragraph above might have been printed thus: "there are many pauses, which we ought to make, in reading a sentence aloud, that are not nearly strong enough to warrant a comma." This is the old-fashioned style; but such sprinkling of commas is not at all necessary.

(iii) Two things are all that are required to teach us the use of a comma: (a) observation of the custom of good writers; and (b) careful consideration of the sense and build of our own sentences.

(iv) The following are a few special uses of the comma :

(a) It may be used in place of and :

"We first endure, then pity, then embrace."

(b) After an address: "John, come here."

(c) After certain introductory adverbs, as however, at length, at last, etc. "He came, however, in time to catch the train."

8. The point of interrogation (?) is placed at the end of a question.

9. The point of admiration (!) is employed to mark a statement which calls for surprise or wonder; but it is now seldom used.


1. The mind naturally tends, especially when in a state of excitement, to the use of what is called figurative language. It is as if we called upon all the things we see or have seen to come forward and help us to express our overmastering emotions. In fact, the external shows of nature are required to express the internal movements of the mind; the external world provides a language for the internal or mental world. Hence we find all language full of figures of speech. Though we do not notice them at the time, we can hardly open our mouths without using them. As Butler says in his famous poem :

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We speak of a town being stormed; of a clear head; a hard heart; winged words; glowing eloquence; virgin snow; a torrent of words; the thirsty ground; the angry sea. We speak of God's Word being a light to our feet and lamp to our path.

2. This kind of language has been examined, classified, and arranged under heads; and the chief figures of speech are called Simile, Metaphor, Personification, Allegory, Synecdoché, Metonymy, and Hyperbolé.

3. A Simile is a comparison that is limited to one point. "Jones fought like a lion." Here the single point of likeness between Jones and the lion is the bravery of the fighting of each.

(Simile comes from the Latin similis, like.)


(i) "His spear was like the mast of a ship." "His salté terés striken down like rain," says Chaucer. 'Apollo came like the night," says Homer. "His words fell soft, like snow upon the ground," are the words used by Homer in speaking of Ulysses. "It stirs the heart like the sound of a trumpet " said Sir Philip Sidney in speaking of the ballad of "Chevy Chase." Tennyson admirably compares a miller covered with flour to a working-bee in blossom-dust."


1 A trope-from Greek tropos, a turning. A word that has been turned from its ordinary and primary use. From the same root come tropics and tropical.

4. A Metaphor is a simile with the words like or as left out. Instead of saying "Roderick Dhu fought like a lion," we use a metaphor, and say "He was a lion in the fight."

(Metaphor is a Greek word meaning transference.)

(i) All language, as we have seen, is full of metaphors. Hence language has been called "fossil poetry." Thus, even in very ordinary prose, we may say, "the wish is father to the thought;" "the news was a dagger to his heart;" or we speak of the fire of passion; of a ray of hope; a flash of wit; a thought striking us; and so on.

(ii) By frequent use, and by forgetfulness, many metaphors have lost their figurative character. Thus we use the words provide (to see beforehand), edify (to build up), express (to squeeze out), detect (to unroof), ruminate (to chew the cud), without the smallest feeling of their metaphorical character.

(iii) We must never mix our metaphors. It will not do to say: “In a moment the thunderbolt was on them, deluging the country with invaders." "I will now embark upon the feature on which this question mainly hinges."

(iv) Metaphors and similes may be mixed. Thus Longfellow :


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(v) A metaphor is a figure in which the objects compared are treated by the min as identical for the time being. A simile simply treats them as resembling one another; and the mind keeps the two carefully apart.

5. Personification is that figure by which, under the influence of strong feeling, we attribute life and mind to impersonal and inanimate things.

(i) Thus we speak, in poetic and impassioned language, of pale Fear; gaunt Famine; green-eyed Jealousy; and white-handed Hope. The morning is said to laugh; the winds to whisper; the oaks to sigh; and the brooks to prattle.

(ii) Milton, in the 'Paradise Lost,' ix. 780, thus describes the fall of Eve :

"So saying, her rash hand in evil hour

Forth reaching to the fruit, she plucked, she ate!
Earth felt the wound; and Nature, from her seat,
Sighing through all her works, gave signs of woe
That all was lost."

Shelley's 'Cloud' is one long personification.

(iii) When the personified object is directly addressed, the figure is called Apostrophe. Thus we have, “O Death, where is thy sting? O Grave, where is thy victory?"

6. An Allegory is a continuous personification in the form of a story.

(i) The genus is personification; the differentia, a story; and the species is an allegory.

(ii) Milton's "Death and Sin," in the tenth book of the 'Paradise Lost,' is a short allegory. Spenser's 'Faerie Queene' and Bunyan's 'Pilgrim's Progress' are long allegories.

(iii) A short allegory is called a Fable.

7. Synecdoché is that figure of speech by which a part is put for the whole. Thus we say, in a more striking fashion, bread instead of food; a cut-throat for a murderer; fifty sail for fifty ships; all hands at work.

(i) Lear, in the height of his mad rage against his daughters, shouts, I abjure all roofs !"

(ii) The name of the material—as a part of the whole production—is sometimes used for the thing made: as cold steel for the sword; the marble speaks; the canvas glows.

8. Metonymy is that figure of speech by which a thing is named, not with its own name, but by some accompaniment. Thus we say, the crown for the king; the sword for physical force.

(The word metonymy is a Greek word meaning change of names.)

We write the ermine for the bench of judges; the mitre for the bishops; red tape for official routine; a long purse for a great deal of money; the bottle for habits of drunkenness.

(i) Milton says :—

9. Hyperbolé or Exaggeration is a figure by which much. more is said than is literally true. This is of course the result of very strong emotion.

"So frowned the mighty combatants, that hell
Grew darker at their frown."

(ii) Scott, in 'Kenilworth,' has this passage: "The mind of England's Elizabeth was like one of those ancient Druidical monuments called

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