Grammar: Punctuation Marks
Punctuation is the name for the marks and signs used when writing text. Punctuation is used to help understand the text and how you should read it. The signs used are called punctuation marks and have rules for their use:
Full-stop (or period) .
- To mark the end of a sentence
- Sentences end with a full stop.
- To show that a word has been shortened
- To show numbers that are smaller than one
- I paid €8.99 for the book.
- To separate items in lists
- "The Irish flag is green, white and gold"
- To join together related sentences
- "I like Manchester United, but I don't like their manager"
- To separate introductions and main points of sentences
- "If you want to keep fit, you should exercise regularly"
- To separate bits of sentences than aren't essential
- "Joan, who is 37, is a great guitar player" (which is the same as "Joan is a great guitar player" - removing "who is 37" doesn't change the meaning of the sentence)
- In dates and addresses
- July 4th, 1776 is when the American declaration of Independence was signed
- Sherlock Holmes lived at 221b Baker St, Marylebone, London
- In numbers greater than 999
- To separate direct quotations
- He said, "I don't care."
- "I don't care," he said.
Question mark ?
Exclamation mark !
- To indicate emotion or emphasis (Exclamation marks are not used in academic writing)
- "Fantastic!" shouted Jack.
- The traffic jam made me so angry!
- To join independent but related clauses. A good way to remember the use of a semi-colon is to see that it is a full-stop on top of a comma. A semi-colon indicates more pausing or separation than a comma, but less than a full-stop
- John was hurt; he knew she only said it to upset him
- I did not finish reading the book; instead, I watched a film
- To separate items in a list, if the list items contain commas
- I bought shiny, ripe apples; small, sweet, juicy grapes; and firm pears
- To introduce a quote, an example, an explanation or a list
- The butler made an announcement: "Dinner will be served in 10 minutes."
- There are three types of muscle in the body: cardiac, smooth, and skeletal
- I didn't go to the concert: I was too tired
- The bookshop specialises in three subjects: computing, science and engineering
- To indicate
- Words have been combined and letters omitted e.g
- wouldn't for "would not"
- I'm for "I am"
- It's for it is
- Ownership or belonging to
- Add 's for singular (one)
- The student's books - the books belonging to the student.
- Mary's books
- s' for plural (more than one) - "The students' books" - the books belonging to the students.
- If the singular form of the noun ends in s then either form is acceptable
- James' books
- James's book
- If the plural form of the noun doesn't end in s then add 's
- For group/joint possession, add 's to the final member of the group
- Eoin, Eileen and Kevin's assignment
- For compound words, add 's to the last word
- Don't use an apostrophe for
- a range of years - 1980s not 1980's
- pronouns that indicate possession his books not his' books
Quotation marks ""
- To indicate direct speech - what someone said
- "I don't like the Harry Potter films," she said.
- To show that words have been missed out in the middle of a sentence or paragraph, without altering the meaning
- He started to count: "One, two, three, four…" until he got to 10, then went to look for her
- To indicate omissions at the end of a sentence or paragraph
- So much more could be said ..
- To indicate a break in a sentence
- After finding the mistakes – all 50 of them – the publisher postponed publication
- indicate a range of a numbers, replacing "to"
- The war ran from 1939–1945
- To join together two words to give them a different meaning
- part-time, back-to-back, well-known
- To indicate extra information that could be omitted without changing the meaning of a sentence
- Kate and Martin (who are cousins) both have red hair