ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How To Use Punctuation Correctly | Basic Guide To English Punctuation

Updated on November 29, 2014

Punctuation in English

Punctuation means the correct usage of points or stops in writing. Using correct punctuation is very important to get across your message correctly. Poor punctuation in writing also puts off the reader and reduces your chances of being read / taken seriously. The main stops are as follows:

1. Full stop or period (.)

2. Comma (,)

3. Semicolon (;)

4. Colon (:)

5. Question mark (?)

6. Exclamation mark (!)

7. Inverted commas (“ ”)

8. Hyphen(-) and Dash (-- )

9. Apostrophe (’)

We shall introduce below each of the above punctuation marks. This is only an introduction to basic punctuation and is not intended to be an exhaustive resource.

Use of the full stop or period [.]

1. This point is used at the end of a statement.


He saw me.

2. The full stop can be used in abbreviations.


She is an M.P.

(Here M.P. is an abbreviation for 'member of parliament'.)

The full stop represents the greatest pause and separation.

Use of the comma [,]

The comma represents a short pause and is used:

1. to separate two or more words of similar ideas in a sentence.


Balu, Gopal, Hari and Govind are in class IV.

2. to separate each pair of words connected by “and”.


The town hall was filled with people — rich and poor, big and small.

3. to mark off words used in addressing people.


How are you, Rajeev?

4. for proper nouns and their titles or identification.


Pandit Nehru, the Prime Minister of India, declared the games open.

5. to avoid repetition of a verb.


Ram got a pen; Hari, a book.

(Here, the comma replaces the verb got.)

6. to mark off a direct quotation from the rest of the sentence.


“Study well,” the teacher advised Ravi.

Use of the semicolon [;]

When a pause of greater importance is needed than that shown by a comma, a semicolon is used.


As Ceaser loved me, I wept for him; as he was fortunate, I honour him.

It is used:

1. to separate the clauses of a compound sentence, when they contain a comma.

2. to separate a series of loosely related clauses.

Use of the colon [:]

The colon represents a more complete pause. It is sometimes used along with a dash after it. It can be used:

1. to introduce a quotation.


Oscar Wilde says:- "Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative."

2. before a list.


The students who have secured a first class are: Rajeev, Raj and Gokul.

Use of the Question Mark [?]

When a sentence is in the form of a question, then a question mark is used instead of a full stop.


Have you seen my cat?

A question mark is not used after an indirect question.


He asked me whether I had seen his cat.

The exclamation mark [!]

The exclamation mark is used after words, phrases or sentences expressing sudden emotion or feelings.


Hurrah! We won!

Oh no! We lost the game.

Use of inverted commas [" "]

To show the correct or exact words used by the speaker or a writer, we use inverted commas.


He said, “I am going to Mumbai tomorrow.”

Use of the hyphen [-] and the dash [–]

The hyphen is in the form of a short dash (-) to connect compound words.



The dash (–) is longer than the hyphen. It shows an opposite idea or thought.


I should have listened to him – but why should I?

Use of the apostrophe [ ' ]

The apostrophe is used:

1. when a letter is omitted.


'I have', can be written as I’ve

2. in possessive nouns.


John’s book, mother's cup

3. to form plurals of letters and figures.


Seven two’s and four three’s

Use of capital letters

Capitals are used:

1. at the beginning of a sentence.


There are seven days in a week.

2. to begin all proper nouns and adjectives derived from them.


Rama, Sita, India, Indians

3. for all nouns and pronouns which refer to the Deity.


We are blessed by the Lord with abundant crops.

We have full faith in God.

4. to write the pronoun 'I'.


Ravi and I went to the market.

Why is punctuation important?

Here is a small illustration to show the importance of punctuation. The improper use or omitting of a punctuation mark can sometimes change the meaning of the sentence completely. For example look at these two sentences; the second one is constructed identical to the first one except that the comma after 'on' is missing.

1. Father said, “Turn the water on, Balu.”

2. Father said, “Turn the water on Balu.”

In sentence 1, father instructs Balu to turn the water on.

In sentence 2, father wants water to be sprayed on Balu.

Here, the comma makes a big difference to the meaning. The second sentence will result in a very wet Balu!


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • wwriter profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from India

      Thank you Ceres Schwarz for your appreciation.

    • Ceres Schwarz profile image

      Ceres Schwarz 

      5 years ago

      This is a very useful and helpful hub for those that are learning about punctuation in the English language. It's good how you gave examples for each of the punctuation marks so those who might be confused about this can better understand things. Punctuation is very important because, as you said, omitting or improperly using punctuation mark can change the meaning of a sentence. And, if you don't use periods, you might end up having run-on sentences.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)