• To answer the question Punctuation one has to be very familiar with the use of Punctuation Marks and Capitals.
  • Punctuation means the right use of different marks (points or stops) in a written sentence.  The Principal Punctuation Marks are:
  1. Full-stop (.)
  2. Comma (,)
  3. Semicolon (;)
  4. Colon (:)
  5. Question Mark (?)
  6. Inverted Commas (" ")
  7. Exclamation Mark (!) 
  8. Hyphen (-)
  9. Dash ( _ )
  10. Apostrophe (')
  11. Parentheses '( )' 

 1. Full-Stop (.)

The Full-Stop represents the longest pause and separation.  It is used to mark the end of:

  i) Assertive Sentences
     Honesty is the best policy. (Assertive)

 ii) Imperative Sentences
     Go to school. (Imperative)

iii) To mark abbreviations and initials.
     B.A., U.N.O., L.I.C., Ph.D., (Abbreviations)   Dr. T. Prasad, Mr. S. Xavier (Initials)

2. Comma (,)

It is the shortest pause.  It is used:

    i) To separate words in a series except before "and"
       He lived wisely, prudently and honestly.

   ii) To separate a noun or phrase in apposition
       Milton, the great English poet, was blind.

  iii) To separate each pair of words connected by 'and'
       Rich and poor, high and low, young and old, all must die.

  iv) To mark off the Nominative of Address (Vocative Case)
       Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears.

   v) After a Nominative Absolute
       The sun having set, the farmers returned home.

  vi) To mark off two ro more Adverbs or Adverbial phrases coming together;
       Then, at length, true friendship proved unbreakable.

 vii) Before and after an adjectival phrase formed with a participle, provided it is non-defining phrase;
       Caesar, having conquered his enemies, returned home.

viii) To avoid repetition of the verb;
       I gave him a pen, and her a pencil.

  ix) To separate a Subordinate Adverb Clause that comes before the Main Clause
       When you are ready, we shall start.

   x) To separate short Co-ordinate Clause
       Men may come, men may go, but I go on for ever.

  xi) To mark off Question-tags
       She doesn't listen to him, does she?

 xii) To mark off direct quotations from the rest of the sentences;
       He said to her, "Lend me your camera"

3. Semicolon (;)

The Semicolon marks a longer pause than the Comma.  But it is less than that of the Colon.  It is used:

 i) To separate the clauses of a compound sentence if they contain commas;
    He was a brave, large-hearted man; and we all honoured him.

ii) To separate a series of loosely connected clauses;
    Reading makes a full man; speaking a ready man; writing an exact man.

4. Colon (:)

The Colon represents a pause longer than that of a semicolon, but less than that of a full-stop.  It is used:

  i) To introduce a quotation (without the quotation marks)
     The Bible says: Do to others what you want them to do to you.

 ii) To introduce a list
     The poets I like best are: Gray, Wordsworth, Shelly and Keats.

iii) To introduce an explanation for a statement
     You have a good news; you have become the father of a son.

5. Question Mark (?)

The Question Mark is used only after a direct question.
  • What are you doing?
The question mark is not used in Indirect Speech.
  • I asked him what he was doing.

6. Quotation Marks or Inverted Commas

The quotation marks or inverted commas are used to mark the exact words of the speaker, i.e. direct speech or quotation.
  • "I would rather die" he explained, "than to betray my country."
  • She says, "I cannot live without you anymore."
Note: The full-stop, the question mark or the exclamation mark are put within th inverted commas.  The single inverted commas (' ') are used for a quotation within a quotation.
  • Brutus said to the other conspirators.  "Let's cry, 'Peace, freedom and liberty.'"

7. Exclamation Mark (!)

It is used after Interjections, Exclamatory phrases and Exclamatory sentences.
Alas!, Hurrah!, Ah!, Oh!, Hush!
  • What a rainy day!
  • Well done!

8. Hyphen (-)

The hyphen (-) is shorter than the dash ( _ ).  It is used to connect the parts of a compound word;
Passer-by, man-of-war, jack-off-all-trades.

It is an extended hyphen.  It gives a change or shift in the flow of thought in a sentence.
  • Arjun met a small boy - a tribal he was in the forest and he spoke a strange language.
  • Should I reveal all the details about my friend but no, why should I?

9. Apostrophe (')

The apostrophe is used:

  i) To show the omission of a letter or letters:
     Don't (do not), e'er (ever), I've (I have).
 ii) In the Genetive Case of a Noun
    This is Paul,s book.
iii) To form the plural of letters and figures:
    Cross your t's and dot your j's.
    Add three 4's and six 2's.

10. Parentheses '( )'

The parentheses are used to separate from the main part of the sentence a phrase or clause which does not grammatically belong to it.
  • He gained from Heaven (it was all he wished) a friend. 

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