English Punctuation: Rules and Examples

You use English punctuation marks to structure and organize your writing.

How to Use English Punctuation Marks | Video

List of English Punctuation Marks

Full Stop (.)

Use a full stop at the end of a declarative sentence and in abbreviations

  • My name’s Beth and I was 18 in July.
  • Mr. White was talking with Mr. Smith.”

Question Mark (?)    

Use a question mark after an interrogative sentence

  • Where are you from?

Quotation Marks /Speech Marks (” “)

Use quotation marks for direct quotations

  •  “I work in Italy”  said Jimmy.

Apostrophe (‘)               

Use an apostrophe in contractions and to indicate possession

  • Sean’s performance at school has greatly improved.
  • They’re going to the movies tonight.

Comma (,)           

Add a comma when two separate sentences are combined

  • We purchased some cheese, and we purchased some fruit.

Use commas between words in a series. Notice that a comma does not follow the last word in the series

  • I like reading books, listening to music, watching TV, and studying English.

Use a comma to separate an introductory element from the rest of the sentence

  • As the day came to an end, the fire fighters put out the last spark.

Use the comma to set off the words “yes” and “no”

  • No, thank you.

Use a comma to set off a tag question from the rest of the sentence

  • She is your sister, isn’t she?

Use a comma to indicate direct address

  • Is that you, Mary?

Use a comma after an expression

  • Most certainly, you can borrow my pencil.

Add a comma when a participle phrase clause is used

  • Walking slowly, I could see the beautiful flowers.

Use a comma to separate parts of the date

  • Tuesday, May 2, 2016 was when I graduated.

Hyphen (-)          

Use a hyphen to join two or more words together into a compound term and is not separated by spaces

  • My eight-year-old boy loves reading.
  • I work part-time.

Exclamation Mark (!)

Use an exclamation mark to show strong emotion or give a command

  • Stop!
  • Yeah!
  • Sit down!

Colon (:)

Use a colon to introduce a list and before a final clause that explains something in the sentence

  • You have two choices: finish the work today or lose the contract.

Semicolon (;)

Use a semicolon to join two independent clauses that are not connected with a coordinate conjunction

  • My daughter is a teacher; my son is a doctor.

Parentheses/Brackets ( )            

Use parentheses for extra non-essential information

  • The two brothers (Richard and Sean) were learning how to play guitar.

Ellipsis (…)   

Use ellipsis to show that parts of sentences are left out

  • To be continues…
  • You’ll never believe what I saw…

English Punctuation Marks | Picture

English Punctuation Marks

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