Types of Punctuation Marks with Examples

In English grammar, there are various different elements and concepts that help us form a complete sentence that conveys our message exactly the way we want. Today, we will discuss one such system of grammar that is the building block of sentence structures – punctuations.

Punctuations, in a general sense, can be defined as the system of symbols that help us form a complete sentence by separating its parts and making its meaning clear. The most common punctuations marks are commas, semicolons, exclamation marks, etc.

However, many different types of punctuation marks have unique functions and purposes. It is important to know their proper uses to make correct use of them in a sentence. So, let us get into a quick discussion below and know them thoroughly.

What is Punctuation?

By definition, punctuation is the system of symbols or signs used in a sentence to guide the reader on how it is constructed and how to read it. Each symbol or sign is known as a punctuation mark, and they basically aim at separating parts of sentences and marking a sentence complete.

In simple words, punctuations are symbols or signs that break up parts of sentences and support meaning within a sentence. That means punctuation marks aim to divide elements of writing, phrases, or sentences, making it easier for the reader to understand what exactly the speaker wants to convey.

By learning the definition, it becomes obvious that we are talking about elements of grammar such as commas, full stops, semicolons, colons, question marks, etc. These are the common ones. There are more of them, and each tries to clarify the meaning of a sentence in different ways.

Now, before getting into a detailed discussion of the types, let us look at some examples to have a basic idea:

  • Hi! Would you like to come to my party?
  • If you drink too much, you will become an alcoholic.
  • I am rich and young, yet I am not happy.
  • Ouch! That hurt so bad.

As we can see, the punctuation marks are breaking up the sentences into parts. This helps the reader understand what exactly the speaker is saying and how the sentence should be read.

Different types of punctuation marks

There are many punctuations marks in English grammar. For now, let us discuss some of the commonly used ones to get acquainted with and make correct use of them.

1. Period or full stop (.)

This punctuation mark comes under the broad category of punctuation marks used as sentence endings. That simply means that whenever we are complete with our words in a sentence, we apply a period at the end to convey that the sentence is over. So, they are the end of declarative sentences which are thought to be complete. Moreover, it is also used after abbreviations.

For example;

  • She went to the mall.
  • I saw sir Tony Jr. yesterday.

2. Question mark (?)

This is another punctuation mark that comes under the sentence ending category. This is used at the end of a sentence to convey that a sentence is a direct question.

  • Why are you late?

3. Exclamation mark (!)

This is the final type that comes under the sentence ending category. It is used at the end of a sentence to express strong or sudden emotion.

  • Ouch! That hurt.
  • She is making me angry!

4. Comma (,)

This is a very common punctuation mark that people often misuse because of its different functions.

The primary aim of a comma is to separate ideas or elements in a sentence and insert a pause between them. However, commas can be used differently in a different context, such as;

List items in a sentence:

  • She bought a car, a house, and a huge truck.

To directly address someone:

  • You are most welcome, Sarah.

Separate two clauses:

  • I was sleeping, and then he rang the doorbell.

5. Colon (:)

Colon is a mark that is mainly used for three different purposes;

To introduce an example, series, or quotation:

  • She bought three items: mango, book, and pencil.

To separate or connect two independent clauses when the second describes the first:

  • I didn’t have time to eat: I was too late

To lay strong emphasis:

  • He hated one thing the most: his brother.

6. Semicolon (;)

This is very similar to the colon. It is also used to connect two clauses that are independent. But here, the clauses have a closer relation than when we use a colon.

  • I have school tomorrow; I can’t attend the party.

7. Dash

There are two types of the dash. One is the En dash (-), a little shorter. It is used to denote a range between numbers or any connection or difference.

  • From 1990-1994

The second is the Em dash (—), a bit longer. It is used to replace commas, colons, etc., to emphasize a conclusion.

  • They gave the right decision — Yes!

8. Hyphen (-)

Hyphen is used between two words to form a compound word. Here there is no gap between the words and the hyphen.

  • Mother-in-law
  • Part-time

9. Brackets ([])

This is basically used to clarify meanings or denote technical explanations.

  • He [Mr. Singh] was there at the party.

10. Braces ({})

Braces are most commonly used in mathematical or computer programs. They basically show that two or more text or items are a single unit.

  • 2{4x-[2+5]}=xy

11. Parentheses (())

This is basically used to provide further additional information or qualifying remarks.

  • John (who failed last semester) is now leaving school.

12. Apostrophe (‘)

This is used to show possessive cases, contractions, or omissions of letters. It can also be used to make lowercase letters plural.

  • I’ve been sleeping all day.
  • Sia’s cat is so rude.
  • All I can do is the i’s and the t’s.

13. Quotation mark (“”)

This is basically used to indicate a speech or text that is spoken by another person. There is also a single quotation mark (‘’) that is used to introduce quotes within quotes.

  • “Don’t play too much,” they screamed.
  • He told the teacher, “Sia ran up the stairs and told me ‘I will get the scissors’ and I believed it.”

14. Ellipsis

This is a symbol of three periods (…) that is commonly used to show the omission of words. It helps jump from one phrase to another while avoiding the obvious words.

  • He counted, “ten, nine, eight…” and turned around.

These are the 14 main punctuation marks that are common in English grammar. It is important to know their proper functions to avoid any confusion and incorrect use.

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