Business & Management

Punctuation Marks in English

There are many punctuation marks in the English language, and you will typically learn to use all of them when you master the language. Also, there are certain uses of the punctuation mark that you might still not know about, even though you constantly use and see them.

What Are the 14 Punctuation Marks in English Grammar?

  1. The Full Stop (.)
  2. The Question Mark (?)
  3. Quotation Marks/Speech Marks (” “)
  4. The Apostrophe (‘)
  5.  The Comma (,)
  6. The Hyphen (-)
  7. The dash (en dash (–) em dash (—))
  8. The Exclamation Mark (!)
  9. The Colon (:)
  10. The Semicolon (;)
  11. Parentheses ()
  12. Brackets []
  13. Ellipsis (…)
  14. The Slash (/)

1-Full Stop (.)

A full stop, also known as a period (.) in American English, is one of the punctuation marks most commonly used in the English language. Text research reveals that about half of all punctuation marks used are full stops.

  • Used often at the end of a declarative sentence, or a statement that is considered complete. (Sarah and Jack went to the cinema)
  • After an abbreviation: Her son, John Jones Jr., was born on Dec. 7, 2001.

2-Question Mark (?)

We use a question mark (?) after an interrogative sentence in English.

When did Sarah leave for the school?

3-Quotation Marks/Speech Marks (” “)

We use quotation marks (” “) for direct quotations in English.

“I feel I’ve really earned this, ” she said, taking up her mug of tea.

” I told a fib about my age, ” little Tom said.

“It is a historic moment ,” he told journalists.

“Fine, thanks,” he replied in a cheerful manner.

4-Apostrophe (‘)

An apostrophe () is used to show that certain letters are omitted from a word. Apart from indicating the plural form of lowercase letters, the punctuation symbol may also be used to show the possessive form of a noun.

Use an apostrophe in contractions:

He is = He’s
I am = I’m
Do not = Don’t
They have = They’ve
It is = It’s
I would = I’d
Let us = Let’s
She has = She’s
Who is = Who’s

Use an apostrophe to indicate possession:

He joined Charles’s army in 1689.
Sarah’s hair was blond and curly.
We have put together an anthology of children’s poetry.
The boy’s sister traveled by taxi to meet us.

5-Comma (,)

The comma is used for showing a separation of ideas or elements within a sentence structure. Additionally, it is used after greeting and closing in numbers, dates, and letter writing.

  • Direct address: Thanks for all your help, Sarah.
  • Separation of two complete sentences: We went to the movies, and then we went out to dinner.
  • Separating lists or elements within sentences: Sarah wanted the white, red, and green dress.

6-Hyphen (-)

hyphen () is a punctuation mark with three significant uses. Many people equate the dash with the punctuation mark, but the two are very distinct. The hyphen can be used in compound words, connect words to prefixes, and as a way of showing breaks in words.

Use a hyphen to combine two or more words into one compound term together. Do not separate words by spaces:

My eight-year-old boy loves reading.
I work part-time.
Nineteenth-century history
Old-furniture salesman
Off-the-peg suits
Self-paced learning exercises

To link prefixes to words: These things happened before the pre-enlightenment era.

To indicate word breaks: Unlike what some people might think, the twentieth-century was very different from other preceding time periods.


is used to separate words into statements. There are two common types of dashes: en dash and em dash.

  • En dash: Twice as long as a hyphen, the en dash is a symbol (–) that is used in writing or printing to indicate a range, connections, or differentiation, such as 1880-1945 or Princeton-New York trains.
  • Em dash: Longer than the en dash, the em dash can be used in place of a comma, parenthesis, or colon to enhance readability or emphasize the conclusion of a sentence. For example, She gave him her answer — No!
    Whether you put spaces around the em dash or not is a style choice. Just be consistent.

8-Exclamation Mark (!)

It is used to highlight. It can be used in the middle or at the end of a paragraph. When used at the end of a sentence it often plays the function of a full stop

We often use an exclamation mark (!) to show strong emotion or give a command:

Sit down!
What a lovely view you have here!
That’s fantastic!
Sarah, don’t touch that!
Good heavens!

9-Colon (:)

has three main uses:

  1. The first is after a word introducing a quotation, an explanation, an example, or a series. (He was planning to study four subjects: politics, philosophy, sociology, and economics.)
  2. The second is between independent clauses when the second explains the first. (I didn’t have time to get changed: I was already late)
  3. The third use of a colon is for emphasis. (There was one thing she loved more than any other: her dog.)

10-Semicolon (;)

The semicolon is used to connect independent clauses. It shows a closer relationship between the clauses than a period would show.

  • John was hurt; he knew she only said it to upset him.

11-Ellipsis (…)

The ellipsis is most commonly represented by three periods (. . . ) although it is occasionally demonstrated with three asterisks (***). The ellipsis is used in writing or printing to indicate an omission, especially of letters or words. Ellipses are frequently used within quotations to jump from one phase to another, omitting unnecessary words that don’t interfere with the meaning. Students writing research papers or newspapers quoting parts of speeches will often employ ellipsis to avoid copying lengthy text that isn’t needed.

    • To be continued…
    • You’ll never believe what I saw…
    • She began to count, “One, two, three, four…”
    • When Newton stated, “An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion…” he developed the law of motion.

12-Brackets [ ]

Brackets are squared off quotations ([]) that are used to show information of a technical nature. Even if this information is omitted entirely, the sentence would still make sense.

  • He [Mr. Jones] was the last person seen at the house.

13-Parentheses ( )

Are curved notation used to contain extra reflections or qualifying remarks. Nonetheless, in most situations, parentheses may be replaced by commas without altering the context.

  • The two brothers (Richard and Sean) were learning how to play guitar.

14-Slash (/)

slash, this is also known as a forward slash, a comma, or even an oblique mark, has different applications. The slash, when written in a continuous line, can be used to separate lines in a song or poem. Also, the slash (/) is used in place of or. Also, the slash may be used to pose two conflicting notions.

  • The slash punctuation rules and examples, (
  • Use slashes for fractions. (1/3 = one-third)
  • Use a slash to separate the day, month, and year in date. (w/o = without, n/a or N/A = not applicable or not available)
  • Use a slash to show the word “per” in measurements (80 miles/hour = 80 miles per hour)
  • Use a slash to separate lines of poetry or rhymes in regular text. (Twinkle, twinkle, little star, / How I wonder what you are. / Up above the world so high, / Like a diamond in the sky.)
  • Use a slash to show alternatives in a sentence. (Please press your browser’s Refresh/Reload button.)

See Also
Future Simple Tense
Past Simple Tense