How to Use Punctuation Marks

How to Use Punctuation Marks

Punctuation is a set of symbols used to regulate writing and clarify the meaning by separating the text into sentences, phrases, clauses, etc. The correct use of punctuation is a key feature of writing as it indicates how the text should be read. Every sentence has at least one punctuation mark. In this article, we are going to discuss how to punctuation marks.

Full stop (.)

Full stop or period marks the end of a sentence. To be more specific, declarative sentences, that state fact, descriptions or explanations, end with full stops.

Mary and Jake went to school.

They can be also used indicate abbreviations.

a.m., Dec., Tel. No., Etc.

Question Mark (?)

Question marks are used at the end of interrogative sentences – questions. They are used at to indicate a question, enquiry or inquiry.

Can you help me?

Where did she go?

Exclamatory Mark (!)

Exclamatory marks are used to mark the end of exclamatory statements. They include short expressions of intense emotion that are only very long. This punctuation mark suggests excitement or strong emphasis.How to Use Punctuation Marks

Comma (,)

Commas suggest a break or pause in a sentence. They make the meaning of the sentence more clear by breaking the sentence into words, phrases and clauses. Commas are used to add a phrase a phrase or clause that adds additional (non-essential) information to a sentence.

My brother, knowing that mother was going to inspect our rooms, cleaned his room.

Eliza, our neighbor’s niece, won a scholarship to Japan.

We also use commas when a sentence begins with a subordinate clause. The comma is then used at the end of the subordinate clause that acts as the introductory clause.

Having won the competition, they returned to their school triumphantly.  

Since he didn’t have any other option, he took part in the competition.

Commas can be also used separate items on a list; in addition, we also commas when there is more than one adjective.

He bought milk, eggs, flour, sugar and cocoa powder.

The big, black dog chased the small, white poodle.

Inverted Comma (“”)

Inverted comma or quotation marks are mainly used to introduce direct quotations from somebody else’s speech or texts. They are mainly used to draw the attention of the reader towards a specific part of the sentence.

Foreigners called it “the island of gems.”

My grandpa said, “Share this with your sister.”


A semicolon indicates a break or a pause that is stronger than a break indicated by a comma. At the same time, it is not final as the break indicated by a full stop. A semicolon is mainly used in the formation of a compound sentence; it can combine two independent clauses without the use of a coordinating conjunction.

Our dog started barking furiously; the other dogs followed him.

This necklace belonged to my mother; she gave it to me on my 16th birthday.

A semicolon can be also used before words and terms such as however, therefore, in addition, otherwise, etc. when they introduce a complete sentence. These words are also generally followed by a comma.


The colon has three main uses. It can be used to introduce a list. In the same manner, it can also introduce a direct quote from somewhere.

There are four main directions: north, south, east, and west.

The headlines read: ‘Local doctor introduces a cancer cure.’

A colon can be also used in between two clauses when the first clause is further explained or described by the second clause.


An apostrophe basically has two main uses. It can be used to indicate possession, form contractions. The apostrophe followed by the letter ‘s’ is used to indicate ownership.

Doll’s house, men’s ideas, James’ mother, friends’ cars etc.

They are also used to indicate the omission of letters in forming contractions.

Don’t, can’t, She’s, I’ll etc.

(For more details, read our article on apostrophes.)

Hyphen (-)

Hyphens are used to combine words together. They are mainly used in compound words.

Mother-in-law, non-verbal, merry-go-round,

Dash (–)

Dash is used to separate a sentence when there is a disruption that interrupts the flow. It introduces a pause or an afterthought. They are also used in places where a comma, semicolon, or colon would be traditionally used.

I can’t wait for Holi – I’m very excited.

That was the end of our troubles – or so we assumed.

Brackets ()

There are two main types of brackets: square brackets [] or round brackets ().Brackets are mainly used to separate information that isn’t essential to the meaning of the rest of the sentence. Even if the information within the brackets is removed, the sentence would still make sense.

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