Punctuation rules help us organise the structure of how we write a language. These punctuation marks (or symbols) also indicate the pauses and intonation which will help us when we read out loud. These punctuation rules help us speak more fluently and once learned and understood, will help you speak more confidently. Here are the 12 must know English punctuation rules
A full stop is always used at the end of each sentence.
For example: She left without saying good bye.
Sometimes an abbreviation can be used as a shortened form of a word.
For example: Co. This is used as an abbreviation for company.
Ltd. This is a shortened form of limited.
A question mark (shown as ? on our keyboard) is always used at the end of a sentence when a question is asked.
For example: Where do you come from?
Where are you going?
Please will you help me?
Please can you give me directions?
Exclamation marks (shown as ! on our keyboard) is used to imply feelings of strong emotions.
For example: She is so lovely!
The scenery is truly breath-taking!
Apostrophes (shown as ‘ on our keyboard) are used to imply possession or ownership.
For example: My brother’s girlfriend is called Anna
His friend’s parents are going on holiday next week
Apostrophes can also be used with shortened forms or missing letters.
For example: I’m in a hurry so have to leave now (shortened from I am about to leave)
They’re late for dinner (shortened from they are late arriving for dinner)
Commas (shown as a , on our keyboards) are used between words on a list.
For example: She likes fish, fruit, vegetables and salad.
Commas can be used when writing addresses.
For example: He leaves at 31 Station Road, Taplow, Buckinghamshire, U.K.
Commas can be used in front of conjunctions (which are words: for, and, so, yet, but, nor).
For example: They woke up late, so missed the train they wanted to catch.
Colons (shown as a : on our keyboard) are used to introduce a list, an idea or ahead of direct speech.
For example: I went to 3 cities last summer on holiday: Zurich, Strasbourg and Paris.
He had one idea: to make as much money as possible.
The child asked his father: “Are we nearly there?”
Semi-colons (shown as ; on our keyboard) can be used instead of a full stop to separate parts of a sentence.
For example: They were held up; so they were late.
Semi-colons can be used together with commas to separate a list.
For-example: She visited The Houses of Parliament; Trafalgar Square; Big Ben; and The London Eye.
Quotation marks (shown as “ on our keyboards) are used to show conversation/speech.
For example: She replied: “Are we leaving soon?”
The teacher said to the class: “Please be quiet now”.
Brackets, which are shown as ( ) on our key board, are used when we want to add further information or explanation and also as an afterthought.
Square brackets can also be used in a similar way for more technical matters and can be found in technical manuals.
For example: I am running late (as I overslept) so I will have to run for the bus
He completed the journey (as directed by the Satnav)
Dashes (shown as – on our keyboards) allow us to add additional information or as an after-thought.
For example: I wore the anorak – which I was given for Christmas – as it was cold.
He explained his views – sadly no one listened.
Slashes (which are shown on your as / or \) are used when making notes or writing outlines or for substitution.
For example: celery/carrots/potatoes
w/out is a shortened form of without
Forward and backward slashes are also used in web addresses.
One ellipsis or 2 or more ellipsis is or are a series of 3 dots or full stops.
These can be used when something is omitted from a sentence or to imply thought.
For example: I will deal with this … sometime today
I do not know the answer … I will think about it and let you know my opinion
These can be used in books, magazines and newspapers.
Learning to use correct punctuation is important. Using either the wrong punctuation or putting punctuation in the wrong place can change the meaning of a sentence entirely. Correct punctuation gives sentence structure and shows us how each sentence and paragraph should be read. Every sentence starts with a capital letter and finishes with either a full stop, question mark or exclamation mark. Learning to use correct punctuation may seem difficult, but once learnt it will help you with both your reading, writing and language and therefore help with communicating with others.