Punctuation marks are symbols which
- organize the structure of written language,
- and indicate intonation and pauses to be observed when reading aloud.
Punctuation marks are also used to avoid ambiguity. For example, “woman, without her man, is nothing” has a different meaning from “woman: without her, man is nothing”
This is a summary of punctuation rules.
Read the punctuation rules and study the examples given.
End punctuation marks:
1. Full stop, or period (.)
Used a full stop at the end of a sentence:
She stood up and went away. She was furious.
Used for abbreviations:
Co. (Company) M.P. (Member of Parliament)
2. Question marks (?)
Question marks are used at the end of direct questions:
Where do you live? Are you crazy? Did you do the homework?
Use a question mark at the end of tag questions:
You will help me, won't you? He likes soccer, doesn't he?
3. Exclamation marks (!)
Used to indicate strong emotions:
She's so beautiful! What a nice girl! How interesting!
Used after interjections:
Oh! It's awful. Hi! What's up?
- Commas are used between items in a series or list. The last two items of the series usually do not need a comma between them. They are separated by “and”.
I like spaghetti, fish, pizza, and couscous.
- Commas are also used between adjectives or adverbs:
I’d like to have a big, black, German car.
She speaks slowly, quietly and eloquently.
- After the street address and city in an address:
34 Hassan II Street, Rabat, Morocco.
- Before or after the direct speech:
He said, “I hate being treated like that.”
“I’m sorry”, she replied.
- Before coordinating conjunction (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so)
He woke up late, so he had to drive to work.
Semicolons are used instead of a full stop or period to separate independent sentences:
They woke up early; then they went jogging.
Use a semicolon to separate items in a series when those items contain punctuation such as a comma:
They visited the Eiffel Tower, Paris; Big Ben, London; and the statue of liberty, New York
Use a colon to introduce a list:
He visited three cities last summer holiday: Madrid, Roma and Athens.
To introduce an idea or an explanation:
He had one idea in mind: to see her as soon as possible.
To introduce direct speech or a quotation:
The secretary whispered in his ear: "Your wife is on the phone. "
To introduce parenthetical information:
I put on a blue jacket --the one my mother bought me-- and blue jeans.
To show an afterthought:
I explained to him my point of view-- at least I tried!
Use an apostrophe to indicate a missing letter or letters in a contraction.
I'm fed up with his stories
Use an apostrophe plus the letter “s” to show possession.
My brother's girlfriend is such a sweet girl.
Quotation marks (“”)
Quotation marks are used to quote speech, sentences or words.
She said, "I love you."