Basic Punctuation in English

Period (.)
We use a period (.)
  • at the end of a sentence (always)
Hello. My name is Jim. I am a teacher at Gulf Polytechnic in Bahrain. Bahrain is a small island in the Gulf near the coast of Saudi Arabia.
  • when we do not write all of a word (often)
Fri. ( = Friday)
Aug. ( = August)
A. Smith (Mr. Smith's first name begins with "A")
e.g. ( = for example; from the Latin exempli gratia)
etc. ( = and all the others; from the Latin et cetera)

Question mark (?)
We use a question mark (?) at the end of a question (but not at the beginning):
Did John find a nice apartment?
Where is Winnipeg?
Notice the question mark includes the period.

Apostrophe (')
We use an apostrophe (')
  • for the genitive of nouns (Unit 49)
My brother's name is Matthew.
My brothers' names are Matthew, Edmund and Martin.
  • for short forms of words (Unit 6)
Comma (,)
We use a comma (,)
  • in a list
In this sentence, My brothers are Matthew, Edmund and Martin, you can understand that I have three brothers.
But in this sentence, My brothers are Matthew Edmund and Martin, I have only two brothers (one is called Matthew Edmund and the other is called Martin).
Notice that there is no comma before and: I bought some oranges, some apples, some peaches and a pear.
  • at the beginning and end of some extra information
Matthew, my eldest brother, lives near Athabasca.
Matthew, who lives near Athabasca, is my eldest brother.
  • after extra information at the beginning of a sentence
After three months, Matthew found an apartment.
If the weather is good, we can go to the beach.
Finally, I managed to open the door.
But we do not use the comma if we put the extra information at the end of the sentence:
Matthew found an apartment after three months.
We can go to the beach if the weather is good.
  • between exact words spoken and the rest of the sentence
"Don't speak to me," he said.
She said, "I don't think you understand."
NEVER use a comma between subject and verb (Matthew, found an apartment) or between the verb and a noun phrase (Matthew found, an apartment).

Quotation marks (" ")
We use quotation marks (" ") to show that the words between them are the exact words spoken - "Just relax," the dentist told me. Notice that they are at the top of the writing (NOT "Just relax").

Exclamation mark (!)
We use an exclamation mark (!) to show great surprise or great interest.
Really! That is so strange!
Notice that the exclamation mark includes a period and that it cannot go at the beginning of a sentence (NOT ! Really). We do not use it for any other purpose.

Hyphen (-)
We use a hyphen (-) between two words to show that we must read them as one idea.
a second-hand car
a one-way street


source: wpeau.ca