Punctuation is one of the fundamental parts of writing and reading English. Punctuation tells you when to pause, when to stop and when to raise your voice. Punctuation marks help with reading and interpreting something, by dividing sentences into clauses and other readable phrases.

Below is a list of some of the most commonly used punctuation encountered in reading:

A full stop (also sometimes referred to as a period) is used to end a sentence. A full stop is also used for abbreviations if the last letter of the word is not used in the abbreviation: for example the abbreviation of doctor is ‘Dr’ therefore it does not get a full stop. The abbreviation of altitude is alt. therefore as it does not end on an ‘e’ it receives a full stop.

A comma is used to indicate that a pause is needed, additional information is added or that a new idea is introduced- like a list. For example: he needed bread, milk and cheese.

A question mark is used for a direct question, and also found at the end of the sentence. A slight increase in the pitch of one’s voice indicates that something is a question.

An exclamation mark (or point) is used for emphasis, usually used for a command or declaration. For example: Stop!
Brackets (or parenthesis) are used to provide additional information. For example: the girl (who was very hungry) eagerly ate the food. The information can be removed, and the sentence will still make sense.

A colon is used to indicate that a list is about to follow.

A semi-colon is used to separate information or clauses that are similar or related. For example: my friend seldom stays in on the weekend; she is afraid she’ll miss out on a party.

A dash is longer than a hyphen, and is used in the same way as a comma is; for additional information.

A hyphen is shorter than a dash, and is used for compound nouns (well-known), for numbers (twenty-four) and for prefixes (ex-boyfriend).

Eclipses are the three dots that are found at the end of sentence, to indicate a cliff-hanger, or unresolved thought. For example: do your homework, or else…