Punctuation - Learn What It Is and How to Use It in Sentences Effectively

‘ilikeicecream’ – Do you understand what this is? Is it a word, a sentence or a phrase? But consider this: ‘I like ice cream.’ Now, do you get it? That is how important punctuation is. Writing nothing at all will be better than writing a sentence with no punctuation. Learning all about parts of speech, tenses, sentence structure, direct and indirect speech, active and passive voice and different types of sentences, without knowing how to use the right punctuation marks in the right places will make all of it useless. So, to help you with it, this article will introduce you to what punctuation is, the different punctuation marks in the English language and how to use them.

Table of Contents

What is Punctuation? – Understanding the Meaning and Definition

Punctuation is as important or rather a little more important than the words you use, the way you structure your sentences, and the content you are trying to convey. The term ‘punctuation’ refers to the system that allows a writer to let the audience know where the sentences end, where there is a short pause or a long pause, and also to show if the writer is questioning, explaining or providing some extra information. Since the writer is not directly speaking to the audience, punctuation is the only way to make the reader see it the way the author put it.

Punctuation, according to the Oxford Learner’s Dictionary, is defined as “the marks used in writing that divide sentences and phrases; the system of using these marks.” The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines punctuation as “the act or practice of inserting standardized marks or signs in written matter to clarify the meaning and separate structural units.” According to the Cambridge Dictionary, the term ‘punctuation’ is defined as “(the use of) special symbols that you add to writing to separate phrases and sentences to show that something is a question, etc.”, and “punctuation is the use of symbols such as full stops or periods, commas, or question marks to divide written words into sentences and clauses”, according to the Collins Dictionary.

The Punctuation Marks in English Grammar

In English grammar, there are multiple punctuation marks that are used in order to make your writing look sensible and easy to understand. A punctuation mark is defined as “a sign or mark used in writing to divide sentences and phrases”, according to the Oxford Learner’s Dictionary. Let us take a look at the various punctuation marks in English grammar.

Furthermore, it is also important you understand that using capital letters and spaces are also an integral part of punctuation.

Using Punctuation in Sentences – Examples

Using punctuation is vital to make your writing look professional, logical and well-founded. Using no punctuation at all will not make sense; overuse of punctuation can make your writing look distorted and vague.

Have a look at the following table to understand each punctuation mark and to see how they can be used in sentences.

Punctuation mark Punctuation mark (Symbol) Sentence example
Full stop / Period . I am a student.
Comma , Ashlin, my sister’s daughter, came home today.
Colon : You have two options: Take a bus or hire a cab.
Semicolon ; I did not like the dish; however, I ate it since I did not want to waste it.
Apostrophe Ritus brother is moving to Sydney.
Quotation marks “ ” My mom said, Make sure you get home before 7 p.m.
Hyphen We have a blackeyed white bunny.
Dash My mom’s friends — Sheela, Immaculate and Agnes — visited her today.
Parentheses () Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu (popularly known as ‘Mother Teresa’) was born on August 26, 1910.
Slash / You can use a noun/pronoun to start a sentence.
Exclamation mark ! Wow! That is great news.
Question mark ? What would you like to have for dinner?
Ellipsis We wrote in the comments section, “We were here. This is the again.”

Frequently Asked Questions on Punctuation

What is punctuation?

The term ‘punctuation’ refers to the system that allows a writer to let the audience know where the sentences end, where there is a short pause or a long pause, and also to show if the writer is questioning, explaining or providing some extra information.

What is the definition of punctuation?

Punctuation, according to the Oxford Learner’s Dictionary, is defined as “the marks used in writing that divide sentences and phrases; the system of using these marks.” The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines punctuation as “the act or practice of inserting standardized marks or signs in written matter to clarify the meaning and separate structural units.” According to the Cambridge Dictionary, the term ‘punctuation’ is defined as “(the use of) special symbols that you add to writing to separate phrases and sentences to show that something is a question, etc.”, and “punctuation is the use of symbols such as full stops or periods, commas, or question marks to divide written words into sentences and clauses”, according to the Collins Dictionary.

What are the different punctuation marks in the English language?

The various punctuation marks in English grammar are

  • Period
  • Comma
  • Colon
  • Semicolon
  • Apostrophe
  • Quotation marks
  • Hyphen
  • Dash
  • Parentheses
  • Slash
  • Exclamation mark
  • Question mark
  • Ellipsis

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