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1. Full stop/period (.)

2. Comma (,)
3. Question Mark (?)
4. Exclamation marks (!)
5. Colon (:)
6. Semicolon ( ; )
7. Apostrophe ( ' )
8. Hyphen ( - )
9. Quotation Marks ( "... " )
10. Dash (-)

We use a variety of punctuation marks, such as full stop/period, comma, question mark, brackets, etc. in our writing to separate sentences, phrases, etc., and to clarify
their meaning. We need to familiarize ourselves with some basic rules in order to use these punctuation marks correctly.

1. Full Stop/Period (.)

A full stop is placed at the end of each sentence to indicate the end of the sentence,
which can be a statement, request or command. A full stop is not used at the end of
a phrase or subordinate clause. Doing so does not create complete sentences.

EXAMPLE: When I saw her yesterday, she was wearing a flowery hat.
NOT: When I saw her yesterday. She was wearing a flowery hat. ("When I saw her yesterday" is an
adverb clause, which is not a complete sentence a full stop should not be used to end it.

The period is used after most abbreviations:

EXAMPLE: Mr., Mrs., Ms., Dr., Rev. Wed., Oct.

Most short versions of specific expressions end in a period.

EXAMPLE: A.M./a.m., P.M./p.m., p.a., e.g.

The trend today is towards writing abbreviations without a period.


Only one full stop is used if a sentence ends with an abbreviation.

EXAMPLE: Her biggest ambition is to successfully complete her M.A.

The period is used to show the shortened form of a word.

EXAMPLE: Opp., mo. (Written abbreviations of 'opposite', 'month')

A full stop is always placed inside quotation marks, whether or not it is part of the

EXAMPLE: John said, "That runaway horse is not mine."

NOT: John said, "That runaway horse is not mine".
2. Comma
A comma is used in the middle of, and never at the end of a sentence. This is done to make the
sentence clearer, especially to separate items in a list. However, overusing commas can
complicate a sentence, or render it meaningless. A comma is important to avoid any possibility of
misunderstanding a sentence as the following example shows:

While my father was eating, my mother was drinking.

While my father was eating my mother was drinking.
Without the comma, it appears my father was cannibalizing my mother.

A comma is used:

to separate words in a list

EXAMPLE: We saw monkeys, porcupines, lions and tigers in the zoo.

to show a pause in a sentence.

EXAMPLE: Yesterday, as I was jogging in the park, I saw a black baboon.

before inverted commas of actual words spoken.

EXAMPLE: He told us, "I believe the world is flat."

to separate the name of the person spoken to.

EXAMPLE: "Jane, let me show you how to do it."

to separate items in dates, that is day of week from the date, and day of month from the

EXAMPLE: He is marrying on Tuesday, 1st April.

EXAMPLE: The explosion happened on 1st January, 2000.

to separate exclamations and expressions from the rest of the sentence.

EXAMPLE: Oh no, it can't be true.

EXAMPLE: Well, all I can say is it's a waste of money.

after such words or phrases of course, therefore, for example,however, moreover,

etc. when we begin a sentence.

EXAMPLE: Of course, you are always right.

EXAMPLE: Moreover, the rent is high and the location is not perfect.

to separate parts of an address.

EXAMPLE: 999, Downing Street, Kingston.

to separate cities and states/provinces, states/provinces and countries.

EXAMPLE: Montana, USA.

to separate numbers that exceed three digits.

EXAMPLE: 2,000 / 20,000

to separate greetings and closings in letters,

EXAMPLE: Dear Princess Diana, / Yours sincerely.

to separate more than one adjective that modifies a noun.

EXAMPLE: The short, puny man was a comedian.

to separate relative clause from the rest of the sentence.

EXAMPLE: The man, who lives next door, is a circus clown.

to separate two independent clauses which together form a compound sentence.

EXAMPLE: Jack is washing the car, and Jill is washing the dishes.
3. Question Mark
A question mark is placed at the end of a sentence to ask a question.

EXAMPLE: Who's that man wearing a cowboy hat? / Could you wait here for me, please?
EXAMPLE: Did you see the movie entitled "The three legged man?"

A full stop/period or comma is not used after a question.

EXAMPLE: "Do you understand what I have been saying?" Jennifer asked me.
NOT: "Do you understand what I have been saying?", Jennifer asked me.

A question mark is used after a question that ends with an abbreviation.

EXAMPLE: You said you saw the UFO at about 7 p.m.?

When a question is being reported and not directly asked, a period, not a question mark,
is used.

EXAMPLE: She asked, "What are you looking at?" (direct question with question mark)
EXAMPLE: She asked what I was looking at. (indirect question with no question mark)
4. Exclamation Mark
An exclamation mark is used after interjections or commands. (Aninterjection is a word
or phrase used to express a strong feeling.) It expresses an emotion such as surprise,
anger, fear, pain or pleasure.

EXAMPLE: What a complete waste of my time! / Sit over there and be quiet for an hour!
EXAMPLE: He's here! He's here! / We won! We won! / Quiet!
5. Colon
A colon is used before a list and usually after 'as follows.'

EXAMPLE: This box contains the following items: bandages, plasters, lotion, medicines and a pair
of scissors.

It is used to separate the hour from the minutes when telling time

EXAMPLE: 11:59 A.M., 11:59 P.M.

6. Semicolon
A semicolon is used to join two sentences, independent clauses or aseries of
items which are closely connected in meaning.

EXAMPLE: He gives up smoking; obviously, he fears contracting one of the smoking-related

7. Apostrophe
An apostrophe is used:

to form contractions by showing the numbers or letters that have been left out.

EXAMPLE: '86 =1986

EXAMPLE: I am = I'm / we are = we're / he will = he'll / they would = they'd /do not = don't/I have
= I've.

to form the possessive of a noun.

Add 's to a single noun or name: uncle's pipe; George's girlfriend; dog's tail; Thomas's car.
Add 's to singular noun that end in s: actress's role; princess's lover; rhinoceros's skin.
Add 's to plural nouns that end in s: boys' bicycles; friends' houses; books' covers
Add 's to other plural nouns: children's toys; women's clothes; men's boots.
Add 's to a person's office or shop: I'll buy the pork at the butcher's. / I'll be visiting Tom's.
Add 's only after the second name: Jack and Jill's pail; Bonnie and Clyde's loot.

to form the plural of abbreviations: many Dr.'s; many M.D.'s; many Ph.D.'s.

for the plural of a number or letter: your p's; your c's; your 5's are too big.

8. Hyphen (-
A hyphen is used to join two words or more to form compound words.

EXAMPLE: good-looking, pro-American, forty-one, mother-in-law.

9. Quotation Marks ("...")
A quotation mark is used to show the beginning and end of reported speech.

EXAMPLE: "Stop looking at my hair." she said to me.

Use a quotation mark to show a quoted word, phrase or title.

EXAMPLE: "War and Peace" is a novel by Leo Tolstoy.

All punctuation marks that belong to a quote are enclosed inside the quotation marks of
the quote.

EXAMPLE: She asked, "Do you like me?" (Correct)

EXAMPLE: She asked, "Do you like me"? (Incorrect)

If there is a quote within a quote, it should be enclosed by single quotation marks.

EXAMPLE: He said to me, "I have read twice 'War and Peace' by Leo Tolstoy."

A comma is used before the last quotation mark to separate the quote from the rest of
the sentence.

EXAMPLE: "Those horses are mine," said John Wayne.

A full stop is put before the last quotation mark when this quote is the last part of the

EXAMPLE: Mum said to me, "Eat your lunch quietly."

Quotation marks are used to enclose a word or phrase when it is used.

EXAMPLE: What does 'anthropophagi' mean? / He habitually says 'money cannot buy love.'
10. Dash (
A dash is sometimes used instead of a colon or a semi-colon.
EXAMPLE: "Quick! Go now the police are coming for you!"

When dashes are used in a sentence, commas are not used to separate interrupting

EXAMPLE: She looked at the dresses a few of them deciding on the one she should buy.
NOT: She looked at the dresses, a few of them, deciding on the one she should buy.