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Punctuation

punctuation marks

Punctuation is the system of symbols (. , ! - : etc) that we use to separate sentences and parts of sentences, and to make their meaning clear. Each symbol is called a "punctuation mark".

The Value of Punctuation
An English teacher wrote these words on the board:

woman without her man is nothing

The teacher then asked the students to punctuate the words correctly. The men wrote the top line. The women wrote the bottom line.

Punctuation Blues - a fun song about punctuation

The value of punctuation

Summary of Punctuation Marks

Click on the link for each punctuation mark to find out more.

Punctuation MarkNameExample
full stop or periodfull stop or periodI like English.
commacommaI speak English, French and Thai.
semi-colonsemi-colonI don't often go swimming; I prefer to play tennis.
coloncolonYou have two choices: finish the work today or lose the contract.
hyphenhyphenThis is a rather out-of-date book.
dashdashIn each town—London, Paris and Rome—we stayed in youth hostels.
question markquestion markWhere is Shangri-La?
exclamation markexclamation mark
exclamation point (AmE)
"Help!" she cried. "I'm drowning!"
slash or forward slashslash, forward slash or obliquePlease press your browser's Refresh/Reload button.
backslashbackslashC:\Users\Files\jse.doc
double quotation marksdouble quotation marks

"I love you," she said.

single quotation markssingle quotation marks'I love you,' she said.
apostropheapostropheThis is John's car.
underlineunderlineHave you read War and Peace?
underscoreunderscorebin_lad@cia.gov
round bracketsround bracketsI went to Bangkok (my favourite city) and stayed there for two weeks.
square bracketssquare bracketsThe newspaper reported that the hostages [most of them French] had been released.
ellipsisellipsis markOne happy customer wrote: "This is the best program...that I have ever seen."
Although there are general rules for English punctuation, there are differences of style between, for example, British and American English, some publishers and some writers. Anyone seeking guidance at an advanced level is recommended to consult a style guide (often included in good dictionaries) for their particular variety of English or editorial style.

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