Periods, commas, quotation marks... the list goes on and on. It might be a little frightening at first for aspiring young writers to be faced with all these different forms of punctuation. At Voice K, we want to make learning and writing as painless as possible. So I put together a list of different punctuation exercises and examples to put your mind at ease.
Let’s start with the basics:
Basic Capitalization Rules
To capitalize a letter means to make it an upper-case letter. Capitalization is a very important part of grammar and punctuation.
- The first letter of a sentence always needs to be in capital.
- The first letter of a proper noun (name of a person , place, days of the week, months of the year, holidays) always needs to be in capital. For example:
a. My name is Elena.
b. My favourite day is Friday.
c. Last year, I went to England for the summer.
d. I wonder what I am getting for Christmas this year.
- The first letter of each word in a title has to be capitalized. For example:
a. My favourite book is Warriors by Erin Hunters
- The first letter of a quote should be capitalized.
a. He said, "I love ice cream!"
However, if you divide a sentence in two, the second part would not be capitalized. For example:
b. "But no," said the mother, "that is not true."
The T in "that" is not capitalized because it is not the beginning of the sentence that she is saying.
The Period (.)
Also known as a full stop, a period marks the end of a sentence. It is the most common form of punctuation that is used to conclude a sentence. Here are some examples:
- I took a walk through the forest.
- It was snowing this evening.
Exclamation Mark (!)
Similar to a period, the exclamation mark is also used to conclude a sentence. However, it is only used when the sentence is said in an urgent, surprised, or excited tone. When you want to express an urgent or strong emotion, you use an exclamation mark. Here are some examples:
- Watch out!
- I love chocolate!
You can also end those same sentences with a period.
- Watch out.
- I love chocolate.
But as you can see, it doesn't have the same tone as it would if you had placed an exclamation mark. It sounds calm and dull. The exclamation mark shows that you are feeling a strong emotion.
Question Mark (?)
A question mark is used at the end of a direct question. It is only used when asking a question. For example:
- How are you?
- What is your favourite animal?
Be careful not to confuse direct questions with indirect questions. An indirect question is a statement, thus you would not put a question mark at the end of it.
- He asked if he could borrow my pencil.
- I wonder if the library has the book I want.
These are indirect questions.
The Comma (,)
A comma indicates a pause between parts of a sentence. There are several ways to use a comma
- Use a comma to separate three or more items in a sentence.
a. Rather than saying “I have been to Italy and France and Slovenia”, you would say “I have been to Italy, France and Slovenia.”
b. Rather than saying “I have a cat and dog and parrot and hamster”, you would say “I have a cat, dog, parrot and hamster.”
- Use a comma to separate two adjectives (words that describe something) in a sentence.
a. Rather than saying “It was a cute and fluffy cat”, you would say “It was a cute, fluffy cat.”
b. Rather than saying “The sweet and red apple was hand-picked from a tree”, you would say “The sweet, red apple was hand-picked from a tree.”
- When you are introducing a person, for example My older brother and you want to introduce their name, you have to use a comma before and after their name.
a. My older brother, Vincent, is 19 years old.
b. My dog, Koga, likes to play outside.
Likewise, when you introduce someone's name and you want to describe them, you have to use a comma before and after the description.
a. Vincent, my older brother, is 19 years old.
b. Koga, my dog, likes to play outside.
- Use a comma to separate the day of the month from the year
a. I was born on October 25th, 2001
- Use a comma when you start the sentence with a word that indicates time, such as “Today” or “Last week”. Separate the time from the sentence. For example:
a. Today, I went to the doctor.
b. Next week, I am going to Wonderland.
c. Whenever I come back home, my dog greets me at the door.
- Always put a comma before a quotation, unless you are starting the sentence with a quote.
a. She said, "I love animals!"
Quotation Marks (“ ”)
Quotation marks are put around dialogue, or things that people say. For example:
- He said, “I love to play soccer with my friends.”
All end punctuation goes before the closing quotation mark. For example, “I love to play soccer with my friends”. is wrong because the period is after the closing quotation mark.
Now that you have a better understanding of the different punctuation marks, try this exercise to see how well you remember what you've learned.
Correct the following sentences
- I went swimming with my friends today
- I can't wait until christmas!
- I play the guitar and drums and flute.
- Today I met my friend Matt at the mall
- When I gave my sister a present, she said thank you!
- My best friend Tyler loves wolves.
- When I grow up I want to be a journalist.
- my friend caroline is in the same class as me
- What's your name
- Today, I saw an adorable and brown dog
- Watch out, you almost hit me
- Why is the grass green and the sky blue
- I went swimming with my friends today.
- I can't wait until Christmas!
- I play the guitar, drums and flute.
- Today, I met my friend, Matt, at the mall
- When I gave my sister a present, she said, "Thank you!"
- My best friend, Tyler, loves wolves.
- When I grow up, I want to be a journalist.
- My friend, Caroline, is in the same class as me.
- What's your name?
- Today, I saw an adorable, brown dog.
- Watch out, you almost hit me!
- Why is the grass green and the sky blue?