English Punctuation Guide

English punctuation, how to write without mistakes?

Punctuation (or sometimes interpunction) is a section of linguistics about the use of punctuation marks, the rules for using punctuation marks in writing, promoting understanding and correct reading of the text.

The following punctuation marks are used in English (punctuation):

the full stop, the period
?the question mark
!the exclamation mark
:the colon
;the semicolon
,the comma
•••the ellipsis
the dash
()parentheses, (round) brackets
[](square) brackets
«»quotation marks, inverted commas

Full stop, the period

The period is placed at the end of narrative and imperative sentences and after abbreviated words and initials:

  • The mini was designed by A. C. Issigonis
  • Co. — Company, Ltd. — Limited

The question mark

The question mark is placed at the end of an interrogative sentence:

  • Do you understand me?
  • Do you know where they will be?

Sometimes a question mark is placed in affirmative sentences, the purpose of which is to get an answer, confirmation of an opinion:

  • You haven’t seen your cousin since you returned?

A question mark is used in sentences that are affirmative in content (expressing a polite request) and interrogative in form:

  • Will you please sit down?

The exclamation mark

An exclamation mark is placed at the end of exclamatory sentences, i.e. statements that are characterized by a rise in tone and emotional coloring:

  • How late you are!

An exclamation mark is sometimes used at the end of sentences that express not only an exclamation, but also significant surprise, disbelief, etc.:

  • О, does she think of me so often!

The comma

A comma separates homogeneous clauses, parts of a complex sentence and separates direct speech from the author’s words:

  • Only buses, taxis and bicycles can use this street
  • The new road was supposed to reduce traffic jams, but they are even worse now
  • «I’ll drive», said Linda

Commas separate applications with explanatory words after the marked noun:

  • Mr Simmons, the owner of the house, will be glad to see you on Tuesday

In English, a comma is used to separate interjections, phrases and sentences:

  • Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to find the solutionis

A comma separates the independent adverbial inflection:

  • Most of the jury being absent, the contest was delayed

The appeal is separated by commas:

  • Jim, can you come tomorrow?

If complex sentences begin with a subordinate clause, a comma is placed after it:

  • If you know the right answer, tell me
  • Tell me if you know the right answer

The semicolon

A semicolon is used to separate rather large parts of a sentence. With the help of a semicolon, a sentence is divided into parts that have greater content independence. A semicolon separates the parts of a compound sentence, if one of the compound sentences (or compound sentences) has identical articles or subordinate parts:

  • You had better go home, because it’s going to rain; and then you may give me a call

A semicolon separates sentences that are part of a complex sentence in the absence of conjunctions:

  • The long day was over; we went home tired, but pleased

The colon

A colon introduces an explanation that is a part of non-conjunctive complex sentences, or a list:

  • It was unusually quiet: everybody was sound asleep
  • Check the following things before a journey: fuel, tyre pressure, oil and water

A sentence that follows a colon usually begins with a lowercase letter, except when the explanation consists of several sentences.

Quotation marks, inverted commas

Quotation marks are used to highlight quotations and direct speech. If the author’s words are located in the middle of direct speech, then each of its parts is written in quotation marks:

  • «So you’ve read this story», he said. «Did you like it?»

Ironic, unusual words, terms, etc. are highlighted with quotation marks:

  • They discussed what, he called «philosophy»


The apostrophe sign indicates the omission of letters in abbreviated forms: doesn’t = does not, she’s = she is/she has.
Апостроф часто вживається перед закінченням множини слів, що зазвичай не змінюються за числами, літер, слів, виражених цифрами, і скорочень:

  • They agreed, but there are too many but’s

The dash

Dashes often perform the same functions as colons, semicolons, and parentheses. Pure is put in the case when the sentence contains new, unexpected, additional information:

  • I don’t often drive long distances — hardly ever, in fact
  • I was nervous — I didn’t like the dark

Video – PUNCTUATION 📚 | English Grammar | How to use punctuation correctly

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