Without punctuation, it will be very difficult to comprehend a piece of writing in English and we wouldn’t have known where one sentence ends and the other one starts. Using punctuation correctly is very essential. Knowing the rules about how to use punctuation marks correctly can not only improve the logic and flow of your sentences but also can improve the quality of your writing.

Thus, Punctuation can make an enormous difference in the meaning of whatever it is you’re writing in English. In the English language, there are fourteen main punctuation marks, but I will only emphasise the most popular ones.

English Punctuation Rules (Table)

Punctuation MarkExplanation of useExample of use
. Full stopTo show the end of a sentence. Usually, one or two spaces is required on the keyboard before starting a new sentence, but check your formatting and referencing requirements.I went to university today.
, commaCommas show pauses between ideas in sentences and also help to break up clauses in a sentence.1. Today I studied biology, went to work, and had my dinner.
2. Jimmy, a good friend of mine, came over on the weekend.
: colonA colon is used before listing a series of ideas that are related to the information that was presented before the colon.There are three main parts to an essay: an introduction, body, and conclusion.
; semi-colonA semi-colon helps to join together two independent clauses within a sentence. Think of it as a longer pause than a comma, but not quite a full stop as the ideas in the sentence are related to each other.I finished my assignment on the weekend; now I can relax and watch YouTube.

Em dash
Em dashes have a variety of
functions in a sentence. In academic
writing, you may see them used to
emphasise elements within a list, or
to show a change of thought or idea
within a sentence.
1. Students, admin staff, professors, researchers— these are all types of people you will meet on campus.
2. Many students believe it is a difficult assignment —I hope the professor covers it in the next class.
… ellipsisEllipsis in academic writing usually
shows the reader where there is
information from a source that is
taken out from the original.
“One of the most significant reasons why we procrastinate…is a lack of planning.”
Parentheses, also known commonly
as ‘round brackets’, show additional
information in a sentence. They are
also used in many referencing
systems as well to credit authors
within a paper.
1. I enjoy my physics class the best (not Biology) because the teacher is so engaging.
2. Significant research (Prada, 2020; Jones, 2014) demonstrates that…
[] bracketsBrackets, also known as ‘square brackets’ are used in academic writing to show additional information within a quote that was not from the original source.“It is commonly referred to [in Sahara] as the tyranny of distance.”


These Are The 14 Main English Punctuation Rules 

  1. Full Stop / Period (.)
  2. Comma (,)
  3. Question Mark (?)
  4. Exclamation Mark (!)
  5. Quotation Marks / Speech Marks (” “)
  6. Apostrophe (‘)
  7. Hyphen (-)
  8. Dash (– or —)
  9. Colon (:)
  10. Semicolon (;)
  11. Parentheses ()
  12. Brackets []
  13. Ellipsis (…)
  14. Slash (/)

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