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Punctuation Marks: A Tutorial & Learning Guide

Punctuation is a critical part in all types of writing, except poetry, but that's a different story. The more you write, the more you learn about your own style of writing, punctuation, etc. However, it is needed to know the basics of such practices.

Use of the period - .
Periods are used in three main instances. The first is at the end of a sentence that is a statement. The other uses are in abbreviations, one being after each letter of an abbreviation which is more than one word (generally not used anymore), the other being an abbreviation of one word which is generally longer; in which case the period comes after the word.

examples:
  • Susy brought her books home from school.
  • I.B.M.
  • Gov.
Use of the question mark - ?
Question marks are used at the end of a sentence which asks a question.
example:
  • How many apples fell off the tree?
Use of the exclamation mark - !
Exclamation marks are used showing excitement or loudness.
examples:
  • I just aced my history quiz!
  • Help!
Use of parenthesis - ( )
Parenthesis are used to de-emphasize material within a sentence which normally wouldn't belong otherwise. example:
  • We were at the park last weekend (the one south of Andy's shop) and we had a great time.
Use of brackets - [ ]
Brakets are used to change words in a quote without changing the meaning of what is said.
example:
  • [Sweeney] is a great guy. (in this instance, Sweeney would be replacing another word, such as 'he' or a nickname)
Use of the comma - ,
The comma is used to join two independent clauses together (used with and/but/yet/for/while/so/nor), separate a series of words (used with and/or), to set off introductory elements, to set off parenthetical elements (including appositives and absolute phrases), separate coordinating adjectives, set off quoted elements, set off phrases that express contrast, to avoid confusion, and for typographical reasons (between city and state, month and day, etc.).
examples:
  • She ran home after school, but was still late for her date.
  • The colors should include red, blue, gree, and yellow.
  • Nevertheless, they lost the game.
  • George, my brother, was a very kind man.
  • I live in a small, quiet, friendly town.
  • Johnny said to little Mary, "I will not have anymore of that!"
  • Hell is made of fire, not ice.
  • I live in Buffalo, New York.
Use of the colon - :
The colon is used before an explanation or list that is preceded by a clause and after the solution in a business letter.
example:
  • The Cheifs include the following people: Tom Green, Derrick Johnson, Will Sheilds.
  • Dear Mr. Dunn:
Use of the semi-colon - ;
The semi-colon is used to sort long lists.
example:
  • There were people from Kansas City, Kansas; St. Louis, Missouri; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; and Dallas, Texas.
Use of quotation marks - ""
Quotation marks are used to symbol a direct quote or phrase and to set off the titles of things which do not normally stand by themselves: short stories, poems, articles.
examples:
  • She said, "Love is in the air."
  • The word "kool" has gotten to me recently.
  • The article "Dying Here" is great.
Use of the ellipses - ...
The ellipses is used when you want to omit words from a quote or as a long pause in the flow of speech. If used after a sentence, it comes after the period. Otherwise, the ellipses is used with a space before and after.
example:
  • "The children were playing and laughing.... until they got in trouble."
Use of the dash (also known as double-hyphen) - --
The dash is used as a sort of super-coma.

Use of the slash (also known as slant, solidus, or virgule) - /
The slash is used to replace or and can't be used where the word or could not.
example:
  • boy/girl