Punctuation: A Quick Guide

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A Quick Guide on Punctuation (1)

Punctuation: Understanding the significance of punctuation is an essential part of written English in order to convey exactly what you want to denote. Whether you are working on your basic grammar or preparing for competitive exams, learning the basics of punctuation will surely help you strengthen your writing skills. So, this blog brings you a comprehensive guide on what punctuation marks are, their importance, types and uses along with practice exercises.

What are Punctuation Marks?

Punctuation marks are a group of conventional marks or characters that are used while writing in the English language to punctuate or separate parts of a sentence so that it becomes more meaningful and the reader understands the context in which it was written. There are 14 commonly used punctuation marks in the English language.

These punctuation marks include:

  • Sentence Endings; full stop, question mark, exclamation point
  • Commas, colons, and semicolons
  • Dash and hyphen
  • Brackets, braces, and parentheses
  • Apostrophe, quotation marks, and ellipsis

Also Read: Grammar for IELTS

Importance of Punctuation in a Sentence

The use of punctuation is very crucial in the English language because of the following reasons:

  • Correct punctuation helps to clarify the tone of the sentence.
  • It helps to understand the context in which something was said or written.
  • It helps to break the sentence or indicate pauses which is important to understand the meaning of the sentence.
  • It improves the readability and logic of the context.
  • When used incorrectly, it can change the meaning of the entire sentence.

Different Types of Punctuations and Their Usage

There are 14 types of punctuation marks that can be used while writing in English. These are:

Full Stop/Period

 A full stop or a period is used at the end of a declarative or imperative sentence like after a statement or command. It denotes the end of a sentence. A period is also used for abbreviations such as titles, names, time, etc.


  • I will meet you at home.
  • Submit this report by Tuesday.
  • Abbreviations like a.m., p.m., Mr Scott M. Clarke, Mrs., etc.

Question Mark

A question mark is a punctuation used at the end of an interrogative sentence/at the end of a question. It denotes the end of the sentence. Commonly, it is used with sentences that begin with what, why, where, when, who and how.


  • What do we have to do for the assignment?
  • Is that your sandwich?
  • What time is it? 

Exclamation Point

An exclamation point is used to denote the end of an exclamatory sentence like a sentence that expresses an intense emotion or feeling. It is also used to emphasise a sentence.


  • Oh my god! That is some great news!
  • I’m so excited about your party!


A comma is a punctuation used to indicate a separation of ideas or insert a pause in a sentence. It has a variety of purposes like-

  • It is used to separate three or more things in a list or series.
  • It is used to set off names used in direct address.
  • It can be used to show a pause after an introductory word.
  • It is used to separate two complete sentences.


  • She ordered a burger, fries and coke at the restaurant.
  • Jan, it is good to see you.
  • However, it was a lie.
  • Texas, USA is a great city to live in.


A colon can be used in a sentence when introducing something like a quote, an example, a series, or an explanation. It is also used between individual clauses when the second one provides an explanation for the first. Lastly, it can be used for emphasis.


  • She took four classes last semester: history, biology, arts, and economics.
  • I was late for the party: there was traffic.
  • I only like one colour: red.


A semicolon is used to connect two separate sentences that are interrelated. These independent sentences could also be connected through conjunctions like but, and, therefore, etc. It is stronger than a comma but not as strong as a full-stop.


  • Joan likes eggs; Jennifer does not.
  • The cat slept through the storm; the dog cowered under the bed.


Dashes are not commonly used but are used to set off an idea within a sentence. There are two types of dashes ‘en dash’ and ‘em dash’. An en dash(–) is twice the size of a hyphen and is used to indicate a range, connection or differentiation. An em dash(—) is longer and is used to put emphasis or enhance readability. It can be used in place of a comma, semicolon or parenthesis. 


  • The building was in construction from 1970 – 1980.
  • The approximate cost is Rs. 900 – Rs.1500.
  • Her answer was— No! 


A hyphen is used to join two or more words to form a compound word.


  • Day-to-day
  • Step-mother
  • Part-time


Brackets are used to insert explanations, corrections, clarifications, or comments into quoted material or otherwise. It is used for technical explanations or to clarify meaning.


  • Jim said, “ it [sunset] was really pretty.”
  • “Did you see that [cat]?”


Braces are used to mark pauses and represent choices. They are often and extensively used in Mathematics for numerical sets of numbers and formulas.


  • Odd numbers {1, 3, 5, 7, 9 …}
  •  2{1+[23-3]}=x


Parenthesis is used to denote extra additional information or comments. They can be replaced by commas without changing the meaning in most cases.


  • He gave me a nice bonus ($500).
  • He finally answered (after taking five minutes to think) that he did not understand the question.


An apostrophe is used in place of letters omitted from a word or compound word while writing. They are used to form possessive nouns. They are also used to form plurals of letters, numbers and symbols.


  • Don’t, can’t, didn’t, I’m
  • Michael’s dog ran away.
  • Erin’s sweatshirt was tan coloured.
  • Kevin got straight A’s in his exams.

Quotation Marks 

There are two types of quotation marks: double quotation marks and single quotation marks. Double quotation marks are used before direct quotations, direct speech, dialogues, something someone said or is saying. Single quotation marks are used to indicate quotations inside of other quotations or otherwise. It is also used for 


  • Stanley said, “ I don’t like this.”
  • The title of the book is ‘Harry Potter and Prisoner of Azkaban.’
  • “Why did you do this?” Said Andy angrily.


Ellipsis is used to represent an omission of words or letters in a sentence. It used to omit unnecessary words from sentences or quotes.


  • Holly flustered, “ do you know where um… never mind.”
  • Call me Ryan… they mistakenly called me Ron.”

Punctuation Exercises

1. We had a great time in France  the kids really enjoyed it

2. Some people work best in the mornings others do better in the evenings

3. What are you doing next weekend

4. Mother had to go into hospital she had heart problems

5. Did you understand why I was upset

6. It is a fine idea let us hope that it is going to work

7. We will be arriving on Monday morning  at least I think so

8. A textbook can be a wall between teacher and class

9. The girl’s father sat in a corner

10. In the words of Murphys Law Anything that can go wrong will go wrong

Punctuation Answers:

1. We had a great time in France – the kids really enjoyed it.

2. Some people work best in the mornings; others do better in the evenings.

3. What are you doing next weekend?

4. Mother had to go into hospital: she had heart problems.

5. Did you understand why I was upset?

6. It is a fine idea; let us hope that it is going to work.

7. We will be arriving on Monday morning – at least, I think so.

8. A textbook can be a ‘wall’ between the teacher and the class.

9. The girl’s father sat in a corner.

10. In the words of Murphy’s Law: ‘Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.’


When should I use a comma?

Commas are used to separate items in a list, set off introductory phrases, separate clauses in a compound sentence, and indicate pauses or clarifications in a sentence.

What’s the difference between a colon and a semicolon?

A colon is used to introduce a list or an explanation, while a semicolon is used to connect closely related independent clauses in a sentence.

How do I use quotation marks?

Quotation marks are used to enclose direct speech, to denote titles of short works (e.g., articles or poems), and to indicate irony or sarcasm.

That’s all about the most important aspects of Punctuation in the English language. We understand some grammatical terms in the English language can be quite tricky. To help you ace your next English-speaking test, Leverage Live has curated a collection of amazing English language courses for study abroad tests. To know more about our services contact Leverage Edu at 1800 572 000!

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