Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Learning Resource Centre Guides: Punctuation

Printable Version

Punctuation

Punctuation

 

Capital Letters ABC Full Stops . . .
Commas , , ,
Question Marks ??? Explanation Marks !!! Speech Marks " "
Semicolons ;;;
Colons :::
Apostrophes ' ' "
                                             

 

Capital letters  A  B C                                                                                                                         

  • start a sentence
  • the pronoun ‘I’
  • begin a name

For example:      I am going to visit Jocelyn in Tauranga.

                       I, Jocelyn, Tauranga

 

Full stops   .   .   .                                                                                                                                 

  • show abbreviations
  • end a sentence

For example:      Dr. Spock visited hospitals in the U.S.A. during summer.

Commas   ,   ,   ,                                                                                                                                  

  • separate items in a list
  • indicate a pause in a sentence

For example:      Some say the earth will end in ice, wind, flood and fire.

Note:                 No comma before ‘and’ in a list.

                        Even though my grandmother is ninety, she still enjoys a daily gin and tonic.

 

Question marks   ?   ?   ?                                                                                                                    

  • indicate a question is being asked
  • take the place of a full stop

For example:      Why do you keep texting me the same message?

                             Could we please drop in at Jacob’s house?

 

Exclamation marks   !   !   !                                                                                                                

  • indicate a loud voice (anger, surprise, warning)
  • take the place of a full stop

For example:      “Get out of my sight!

                        “Fire!  Run!

 

Speech marks (sometimes called quotation marks)    “             ”                                                    

  • sit either side of whatever is spoken
  • sit either side of quoted material

For example:      My mother always said, Don’t wash your hair and then go outside.  You’ll catch a cold”.

                       What do you think of Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code?

 

Note:       In New Zealand, the full stops, question marks and exclamation marks sit outside the speech (quotation) marks.

 

Semicolons   ;   ;   ;                                                                                                                             

  • indicate a long pause separating two related clauses

For example:      My mother stays up late every night; she is afraid that she will miss out on something.

 

Colons   :   :   :                                                                                                                                     

  • show a list is coming next

For example:      Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy now itemizes:

                                  Creating

                                  Evaluating

                                  Analysing

                                  Applying

                                  Understanding

                                  Remembering

 

Apostrophes   ’  ’  ’                                                                                                                             

  • indicate ownership – the fireman’s hat

                                  the student’s backpack

                                  the men’s room

                                  six weeks’ time

 

  • indicate missing letter(s) –  We mustn’t laugh

                                           I’d like to see Elton John

 

 

Further Learning Centre Handouts related to this topic:

 

Punctuation Instructions last updated 4/07/11