Copyright

What is Punctuation? - Rules & Signs Video

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: Finding Meaning in Visual Media: Strategies & Examples

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
 Replay
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:03 What Is Punctuation?
  • 0:17 Rules for Commonly…
  • 2:04 More Punctuation Rules
  • 5:13 Lesson Summary
Save Save Save

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Log in or Sign up

Timeline
Autoplay
Autoplay
Speed Speed

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Mary Firestone
In this lesson, we'll find out what punctuation is. We'll then learn some rules for using the most common punctuation marks as well as review sample sentences utilizing the punctuation rules.

What Is Punctuation?

Punctuation marks are symbols or signs that indicate where pauses, stops, questions, omissions, introductions, and other forms of expression occur in our writing.

Rules for Commonly Used Punctuation

Let's take a look at some rules for the most common punctuation marks in American English:

Period

Use periods ( . ) at the end of sentences to indicate a full stop, like in the sentence:

  • I like your hat.

Use periods to create abbreviations. For example:

  • Mister is abbreviated Mr. - like in Mr. Johnson

Comma

Use a comma ( , ) after introductory phrases, in lists to separate three or more items in a series, and as an indicator marking independent and dependent clauses.

In the sentence:

  • Washing a car is hard work, but the reward is well worth it.

the comma is separating clauses. In the sentence:

  • To do a good job, you'll need soap, water, wash cloths, and window cleaner.

the first comma is separating the introductory phrase from the rest of the sentence, while the final three commas are separating the individually listed items.

Use a comma to separate the names of cities and states, and between a date and a year:

  • Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • April 4, 2013

For example, notice the comma between Minneapolis and Minnesota and the comma between the date (April 4) and the year (2013). However, if you are just using the month and the year (like in April 2013), no comma is used.

Question Mark

Use question marks ( ? ) when asking a direct question, a specific question being asked but not for an indirect question, the restatement of a question previously asked. For example:

  • Where are you going?

is a direct question being asked and thus uses a question mark. However, the sentence:

  • He asked me where I was going.

is restating what someone else said and is thus an indirect question, making it a sentence needing a period, not a question mark.

More Punctuation Rules

Semicolon

Use a semicolon ( ; ) to separate independent clauses, to separate items in a series when there's additional punctuation, and when there's a transitional phrase (for example: as a result, even so, in fact) between independent clauses.

In this sentence:

  • Members came from Fargo, North Dakota; Juno, Alaska; Albany, New York; Miami, Florida; and Newport, Rhode Island.

The semicolons are separating a series of items that have additional punctuation. In the sentence:

  • More people are adopting dogs; in fact, the local shelter is empty.

the semicolon is used directly after the first independent clause.

Exclamation Point

Use exclamation points ( ! ) for emphasis, for commands, or to show extreme emotion. For example, the exclamation point is used in the sentence:

  • Stop that right now!

because it is a command. While in the sentence:

  • Wow! That's a great song.

the exclamation point is being used for emphasis.

Single Quotation Mark

Use single quotation marks (' ') to highlight a phrase or word, like in the sentence:

  • He was completely honest, telling us 'the good, the bad, and the ugly.'

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about Study.com
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account
Support