Use a period to end a sentence that is a statement.

All employees begin work at 9:00 AM.

Question Mark

Use a question mark to end a sentence.

When should we come over?

Exclamation Mark

Use an exclamation mark to end a sentence that expresses strong emotion.



Use a comma:
xxxx1) to separate independent clauses for dependent clauses.
xxxxxxxJames didn’t want to go to his in-laws for Thanksgiving, but his wife insisted.

2) to set off introductory words, phrases, or clauses.
xxxHappy to be invited, Paula gretted eveyone at the party witha smile.

3) to set off an interrupting word or phrase.
xxxWalter’s new wife, a young actress, is originally from Italy.

4) to set off interjections
xxxStop yelling!, You are giving me a headache.

5) to set off items in series
xxxI bought a shirt, pants, tie and shoes when I went shopping yesterday.

6) to set off parts of dates, titles, and addresses
xxxJuly 8th, 2012.                 Bob williams, Phd.

The Colon (:)

Use a colon:
xxxx1) to set off a list of items or details
xxxxxxxPlease bring the following: paper, pencil and eraser.

2) after the salutation of a formal letter
xxxDear Mr. Elliot:

4) between the hour and the minutes
xxx8:45 p.m.                                     5:100 a.m.

The Semicolon (;)

Use a semicolon:
xxxx1) to separate independent clauses when no coordinating conjunction is used
xxxxxxxMary and her boyfreind went to the theater; they had a good time.

2) between independent clauses joined by conjunctive adverbs.
xxxSelma said she would cook dinner; however, she changed her mind and ordered out instead.

4) before phrases that introduce a list or examples
xxxCalifornia has many tourist attractions; for example, Disneyland, San Diego Zoo and Fisherman’s
xxxWharf in San Francisco.

Quotation Marks

Use quotation marks to:
xxxx1) set off a direct quotation – use single marks to set off a quotation within a quotation
xxxxxxxHorace said, “I want to go too!”

2) set off the titles of magazine articles, songs, poems, and the names of chapters of books
xxx“The Raven” is a well know poem by Edgar Allen Poe.


Parentheses are used to enclose words, phrases, clauses which are used to clarify, explain, translate or comment on other items in a passage.

Sacramento (the capital of California) is north of San Francisco.


Apostrophes are used to indicate where a letter has been omitted to form a contraction or to show possession.

I am= I’m                  who is= who’s                can not= can’t

Adam’s book             his parents’ car              her children’s clothes


For more information about punctuation takes a look at

The Basics of English Grammar


Other links for Punctuation
XX Rules of Punctuation
XX Sentence Ending Punctuation
XX Kinds of Punctuation

An explanation of English puncutation- www.understandinggrammar.com