Punctuation Marks and How to Use Them: Complete Writing Guide

Punctuation Marks

Punctuation is the arrangement of signs or images given to a reader to show how a sentence is built and how it should be perused. Sentences are the structure blocks used to develop a written account. They are finished articulations. Punctuation shows how the sentence should be perused and makes the meaning understandable.

Each sentence ought to incorporate, at any rate, a capital letter toward the beginning, and a full stop, exclamation mark, or question mark toward the end. Such a basic system shows that the sentence is complete.

Types of Punctuation Marks

Here are the types of punctuation marks.

  • The comma,
  • The full stop.
  • The shout mark!
  • The question mark?
  • The semi-colon ;
  • The colon :
  • The punctuation ‘
  • The quotes “
  • The hyphen –
  • Sections ( ) or [ ]
  • The slash/
  • Braces
  • Apostrophe
  • Brackets

Uses of Punctuation Marks

There are 14 punctuation marks that are ordinarily utilized in English sentence structure. They are the period, question mark; exclamation mark, comma, semicolon, colon, dash, a hyphen, parenthesis, brackets, braces, apostrophe, quotes, and ellipsis.

Uses of Punctuation Marks

Here are the uses of punctuation marks.

The Period, Question Mark, and Exclamation Point

Three of the fourteen punctuation marks are suitable for use as sentence endings. They are the period, question mark, and outcry point.

  • The Period

The period (.) is set toward the finish of declarative sentences, proclamations thought to be finished, and after numerous abbreviations. The period can be used as follows.

As a sentence ender: Peter and Dennis went to the market.

After a shortened form: Her child, Richard John Jr., was brought into the world on Jan. 6, 2015.

  • The Question Mark

Utilize a question mark (?) to demonstrate an immediate inquiry when put toward the end of a sentence. For example:

How to write a Research paper?

  • The Exclamation Point

The exclamation point (!) is utilized when an individual needs to communicate an abrupt objection or add punctuation.

Within a dialogue: “Blessed bovine!” shouted Mary.

To emphasize a point: My relative rents make me angry!

Comma, Semicolon, and Colon

The comma, semicolon, and colon are regularly abused on the grounds that they all can show a delay in an arrangement.

  • The Comma

The comma is utilized to show a detachment of thoughts or components inside the structure of a sentence. Furthermore, it is utilized in numbers, dates, and letter composing after salutation and closing.

Here is where a comma is used.

Direct address: Thanks for all your assistance, John.

Division of two complete sentences: We went out to see the films, and afterward we ventured out on a brief siesta.

Isolating records or components inside sentences: Suzi needed the dark, green, and blue dress.

Regardless of whether to add the last comma before the conjunction in a list is something debatable. This last comma, known as an Oxford or sequential comma, is valuable in a perplexing arrangement of components or expressions; however, is frequently viewed as pointless in a straightforward arrangement, such as in the model above. It generally boils down to a style decision by the essayist.

  • The Semicolon

The semicolon (;) is utilized to connect independent clauses. It shows a closer connection between the clauses than a period would show. For example:

How to write & structure a Dissertation; A complete step by step guide

  • The Colon

A colon (:) has three fundamental uses. The first is after a word presenting a citation, a clarification, a model, or a series.

He was contemplating to study four subjects: legislative issues, theory, humanism, and financial aspects.

The second is between autonomous provisions when the second clarifies the main, like a semicolon:

I didn’t have the opportunity to get transformed: I was at that point late.

The third utilization of a colon is for emphasis:

There was one thing she adored more than some other: her cat.

A colon additionally has non-grammatical functions in time, proportion, business correspondence, and references.

Dash and the Hyphen

Two other normal accentuation marks are the dash and hyphen. These marks are frequently mistaken for one another because of their appearance yet they are altogether different.

A dash is utilized to isolate words into statements. There are two basic sorts of dashes: en dash and em dash.

  • En dash

En dash: It is two times a hyphen, and it is a symbol (– ) that is utilized writing or printing to demonstrate a range, associations, or separations, for example, 1880-1945 or Princeton-New York trains.

  • Em dash

Em dash is longer than the en dash; the em dash can be utilized instead of a comma, enclosure, or colon to improve meaningfulness or emphasis the determination of a sentence. For instance, she offered him her response — No!

If you put spaces around the em dash is a style decision. Simply be predictable.

  • A hyphen

A hyphen is utilized to join at least two words together into a compound term and isn’t isolated by spaces. For instance, part-time and well-known.

Brackets, Braces, and Parentheses

Brackets, braces, and parenthesis are symbols used to contain words that are further clarification or are viewed as a gathering.

  • Brackets

Brackets are notations that are squared off ([]) and utilized for specialized clarifications or to explain the meaning. In the event that you eliminate the data in the sections, the sentence will still make sense.

He [Mr. Reuben] was the last individual seen at the house.

  • Braces

Braces ({}) are utilized to contain at least two lines of text or recorded things to show that they are considered as a unit. They are not typical in most compositions but rather can be found in PC programming to show what should be contained inside similar lines. They can likewise be utilized in numerical articulations. For instance, 2{1+[23-3]}=x.

  • Parenthesis

Parenthesis (()) are bent notations used to contain further thoughts or qualifying comments. Notwithstanding, parenthesis can be replaced by commas without changing the significance by and large.

John and Jane (who were in reality relative and sister) both have red hair.

Apostrophe, Quotation Marks and Ellipsis

The last three punctuation structures in English syntax are the apostrophe, quotation marks, and ellipsis. In contrast to recently referenced syntactic marks, they are not identified with each other in any structure.

  • An apostrophe

An apostrophe (‘) is utilized to demonstrate the exclusion of a letter or letters from a word, the possessive case, or the plurals of lowercase letters. Instances of the punctuation being used include:

Exclusion of letters from a word: I’ve seen that film a few times. She wasn’t the one in particular who knew the appropriate response.

Possessive case: Sara’s canine piece the neighbor.

Plural for lowercase letters: Six individuals were advised to mind their p’s and q’s.

  • Quotation marks

Quotation marks (” “) are a couple of punctuation marks utilized principally to check the start and end of a section credited to another and rehashed in exactly the same words. They are likewise used to demonstrate implications and to show the abnormal or questionable status of a word.

“Try not to head outside,” she said.

Single quotes (‘ ‘) are utilized most oftentimes for cites inside statements.

Marie told the instructor, “I saw Marc at the jungle gym, and he said to me ‘Bill began the battle,’ and I trusted him.”

  • The ellipsis

The ellipsis is most generally spoken to by three periods (. . . ) in spite of the fact that it is periodically shown with three reference marks (***). The ellipsis is utilized in writing or printing to show an oversight, particularly of letters or words. Ellipses are regularly utilized inside citations to hop from one expression then onto the next, discarding superfluous words that don’t meddle with the meaning. Understudies composing research papers or papers citing portions of talks will regularly utilize ellipsis to try not to duplicate protracted content that isn’t required.

Oversight of words: She started to count, “One, two, three, four… “until she got to 10, then went to look for him.

Inside a citation: When Newton expressed, “An item at rest remains at rest and an object moving remains in motion…” he built up the law of motion.

Tips on How to Use Punctuation Marks

Here are the tips on how to use punctuation marks.

  • Use Apostrophes Effectively

Due to its little size, an apostrophe will in general be ignored and abused in equivalent measure.

The apostrophe is utilized to shape possessives (e.g., the school’s staff, our family’s peak, the shirt’s neckline, Bill Thomas’ home) and certain compressions (e.g., it’s, let’s, she’s, they’re, I’ve, don’t).

The punctuation isn’t utilized to shape most plurals (e.g., she is taking a gander at a few schools, the families have comparable peaks, these shirts are discounted, we are eating with the Thomases). There are three exemptions: plurals of lowercase letters (e.g., dab your I’s and cross your t’s); plurals of specific words utilized as words (e.g., we need to count the yes’s, no’s, and maybe’s); and plurals of specific shortenings (e.g., the staff incorporates twelve Ph.D.’s. and four M.D.’s).

  • Know Where to Put Quotation Marks

Periods and commas go inside quotes, regardless of whether they aren’t essential for the material being cited. All other punctuation marks go external to the quotes, except if they are important for the material being cited.


“Any further postponement,” she stated, “would bring about a claim.”

His most recent story is named “The Beginning of the End”; wouldn’t a superior title be “The End of the Beginning”?

  • How to Punctuate Parenthesis?

At the point when an incidental component is incorporated toward the finish of a bigger sentence, the terminal accentuation for the bigger sentence goes outside the closing parenthesis.

At the point when a parenthetical sentence exists all alone, the terminal punctuation goes inside the end of the parenthesis.


She casually revealed to us she would spend her birthday in Venice (Italy, not California). (Shockingly, we weren’t welcomed.)

  • Utilize a Hyphen for Compound Adjectives

When at least two words are considered as a descriptor before the word they are changing, those words ought to typically be hyphenated. The significant exemption is the point at which the principal such word is a modifier finishing off with – ly.


The quickly masterminded meeting came on the heels of less-than-stellar earnings

  • Recognize the Colon and the Semicolon

The colon and the semicolon can both be utilized to associate two independent clauses.

At the point when the subsequent statement develops or clarifies the main, utilize a colon. If the conditions are simply related, yet the second doesn’t follow from the primary, utilize a semicolon.



Just 33% of Americans have a visa; most Canadians have identification.


Just 33% of Americans have identification: for most, foreign travel is either bothersome or exorbitant.

  • Avoid Multiple Punctuations at the End of a Sentence

Never end a sentence with a question mark or exclamation point followed by a period. If a sentence closes with a period that is essential for a shortened form, don’t add a subsequent period.


I don’t especially like the play Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

I didn’t care for it in any event, when I worked at Yahoo!

I particularly didn’t care for it when I saw it at 5:00 a.m.

  • Utilize a Colon to Present a List When the Introductory Content Is a Complete Sentence

Not all lists should be presented with a colon. The overall guideline is that if the early on content can remain as a linguistically complete sentence, utilize a colon; in any case, don’t.


Kindly bring these items: a spotlight, an agreeable pair of climbing boots, and a coat.

Kindly bring the commonplace night climbing gear: a spotlight, an agreeable pair of climbing boots, and a coat.

It would be ideal if you bring an electric lamp, an agreeable pair of climbing boots, and a coat.


It would be ideal if you bring: a spotlight, an agreeable pair of climbing boots, and a coat.

  • Use Commas to Show Insignificant Data

In the event that an informative issue can be discarded without changing the overall significance of the sentence, it should be set off with commas. If the logical issue is basic to the importance of the sentence, don’t set it off with commas.


The writer Don DeLillo rarely gives interviews.


The author, Don DeLillo, only here and there gives interviews.

Clarification: The identity of the particular author is fundamental to the importance of the sentence. Otherwise, there isn’t anything to demonstrate which of the huge number of authors is being alluded to.


America’s first president, George Washington, served from 1789 to 1797.

Clarification: America has just a single first president. Distinguishing him by name isn’t essential to the importance of the sentence.


America’s first president George Washington served from 1789 to 1797.

Utilize a Dictionary

With proper use of a dictionary, you can decide whether to use the U.S.A. or USA; co-worker or coworker; lets or let’s; and teachers’ college or teachers college.

If in Doubt, Rewrite

The most straightforward approach to tackle a vexing punctuation issue is to keep away from it. If you don’t know how to appropriately punctuate a sentence or if the punctuation brings about the confusion —rewrite it

Punctuation Rules

Would you be able to envision a passage with no periods or commas? In truth, it would be practically impossible. There are 14 punctuation marks in English grammar, and, at least, one of them needs to show up in each sentence, or paragraph, to make it effectively comprehended. The uplifting news is that there are fourteen diverse punctuation marks to choose from.

Punctuation Rules

Observe these essential punctuation rules and they will assist you with composing more clearly and viably.

  •  Accentuation Must Be Parallel

When punctuation is parallel it implies that intruding on a principle clause with a dash or a comma requires similar punctuation at both the start and end of the clause.

Erroneous: The young people, understudies from Mrs. Smith’s craft class-went on a field outing to the exhibition hall.

Right: The young people, understudies from Mrs. Smith’s craft class, went on a field outing to the historical center.

Right: The young people understudies from Mrs. Smith’s craft class-went on a field outing to the historical center.

This rule likewise implies that you ought not to utilize a semicolon to set off only one thing in a list.

Erroneous: I have lived in Des Moines, Iowa, Seattle, Washington; and Boise, Idaho.

Right: I have lived in Des Moines, Iowa; Seattle, Washington; and Boise, Idaho.

  • An Emdash is a Strong Comma

Emdash (the longest of the three runs) can be utilized for a significant number of similar purposes as a comma. A couple of emdashes may be utilized if the sentence as of now contains commas. Also, it very well may be utilized to separate data for accentuation. Emdash can likewise act alone, causing one to notice a modifier or an additional snippet of data.

Here are a couple of examples:

Sarah abhorred strolling to class-it was all tough-but she had no way out, she had missed the transport once more.

For his birthday, Mark got a sweater, a coat, a saving bond-and another bicycle!

Pizza, chocolate, and frozen yogurt-these are my #1 nourishment.

  •  A Colon Appears Toward the End of the Main Clause

In the event that you experience difficulty choosing when to utilize a colon in your composition, it assists with posing yourself if a period of inquiry imprint would be proper in a similar area. In the event that the sentence is as of now complete, you may utilize a colon to add a rundown, elaboration, or repetition.

List: I have three siblings: David, Kent, and Jacob.

Elaboration: I have chosen not to move to San Francisco: I have been offered a superior employment opportunity in Milwaukee.

Restatement: Thinking back, Jenny didn’t know who began the previous battle: she was unable to decide whether she was to blame or her companion Annie.

  • A Semicolon Is Used For Equal Emphasis

In a compound sentence that has no coordinating conjunction, a semicolon can join related independent clauses that are of equivalent significance.

Sarah responded to my inquiry suddenly; she appeared to be engrossed.

A semicolon can likewise be utilized before a conjunctive adverb joining two statements in a compound sentence.

The eatery was packed; notwithstanding, the server took our request right away.

  •  Parenthesis Show Related, Nonessential Elements

Parentheses can be utilized to show components in a sentence that are connected yet not important to comprehend the significance of the sentence. Parentheses can be replaced by commas by and large, in spite of the fact that the utilization of parentheses is meant to de-emphasize particular information.

My family visited a few nations (Italy, France, Portugal, and Spain) on our excursion a year ago.

In the event that the data inside the brackets shape a total sentence inside the bigger sentence, no punctuation is essential.

The snow (saw it when she passed the window) totally covered the trees.

Apostrophes Show Possession or Indicate an Omission

An apostrophe is utilized to show ownership or proprietorship. An apostrophe and an – s should be added to particular possessive things, plural possessive things that don’t end in – s, and solitary possessive things that end in – s. Just punctuation should be utilized when demonstrating ownership or proprietorship for a plural possessive thing that closes in – s.


Singular possessive noun: Susan’s book

Singular possessive noun ending in -s: James’s car

Plural possessive nouns: the children’s hospital

The plural possessive noun that ends in – s: my folks’ home

An apostrophe can likewise be utilized to show that a letter has been excluded from a word to shape a withdrawal. For instance, “they’re” is a contraction of “they are” and “it’s” is a constriction of “it is.” (Note that “its” is a possessive pronoun.)