The Period

A period (.) ends a sentence. It comes immediately after the last letter of a sentence, and there only needs to be one space between it and the first letter of the next sentence. You’ll also see them used used in abbreviations, such as when
United States is shortened to U


The Semicolon

A semicolon (;) separates sentences that are closely related but grammatically independent. For example: “My brother isn’t feeling well
; he’s been sick for a week.” The two independent sentences could be separated by a period. A semicolon also works here since the two sentences are closely related.

You can also use semicolons to separate a list of items that contain commas. For instance: “I’ve been to Paris, France
; London, England; Rome, Italy; and Madrid, Spain.” Imagine how confusing reading that would be if there were commas where the semicolons are.


The Comma

A comma (,) separates a series of independent sentences, nouns, adjectives, verbs, or phrases. That sentence you just read was a good example of commas separating nouns in a series. When a comma connects two independent sentences, you’ll usually see it with a conjunction (like
and, but, or or). For example: “He went to the movies
, and his wife went to the mall.”

A comma can also be used to separate nonessential details in a sentence. For example: “The boy
, who has red hair
, goes to my school.” Who has red hair, is information that doesn’t change the meaning of the sentence if it’s removed. Putting commas around an extra detail like this helps keep it from cluttering the sentence.

Punctuation – Meaning or Madness?

The full stop: –

  • The full stop is used to mark the end of a sentence.
  • A common mistake is to join two sentences with a comma instead of separating them with a full stop.

The question mark: –

  • The question mark is used for a direct question.
    • Would you wait for me?

The exclamation mark: –

  • The exclamation mark comes at the end of a sentence to replace the full stop when there is a need to indicate surprise or any strong emotion.
    • I have won it!
    • I did it!
    • Good grief!
    • Get out!
    • Shut up!

The comma: –

  • To separate items in a list.
  • To clarify the meaning of a sentence.
  • To separate the clauses in a sentence.
  • To separate the non-defining clause from the main clause
    • Bryan, who has a pleasant smile, is my neighbour.
  • To start off replies to questions, for question tags, and direct speech.
    • Yes, please.
    • No, thank you.
  • To separate the phrase in a sentence
    • The postman, a really friendly person, was attacked by a savage dog.
    • The boy, running desperately away from the bully, fell into a drain.
  • Before but, nor and or
    • (This is optional depending on the length of the sentence.)
      • It was not a difficult decision for him to make, but he had no choice.
      • It was not my decision to dismiss the worker, nor was it the Manager’s.
      • Hew knew he had to confront the bully, or face the embarrassment of being frequently insulted.

The semicolon: –

The colon: –

The dash and dashes: –

Dot: –

Inverted commas: –

The hyphen: –

The apostrophe: –

Brackets: –