Q: What is punctuation?

1 Answer to this question

Punctuation refers to the tools used in writing to separate sentences, phrases, and clauses so that their intended meaning is clear. Russel Baker explains the need for punctuation in a language beautifully: “When speaking aloud, you punctuate constantly — with body language. Your listener hears commas, dashes, question marks, exclamation points, quotation marks as you shout, whisper, pause, wave your arms, roll your eyes, wrinkle your brow. In writing, punctuation plays the role of body language. It helps readers hear the way you want to be heard.”

The most commonly used punctuation marks in English are as follows:

  1. The full stop/period
  2. The comma
  3. The question mark
  4. The exclamation mark
  5. The semicolon
  6. The colon
  7. The hyphen
  8. The em dash
  9. The apostrophe
  10. The bracket or parenthesis
  11. The inverted comma/quotation mark
  12. The ellipsis

We have an excellent online course that will help you learn how to use punctuation marks: How to use punctuation: Part I & II


You can also head over to the Grammar and Language section of the site to find helpful posts regarding the use of punctuation in academic writing. 


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