Punctuation Definition Example

Capital Letters

The first word of a sentence begins with a capital letter.

Proper nouns also start with a capital letter.

The first word of direct speech starts with a capital letter.

Bill lives in Johannesburg.”

They asked, “Can we leave early today?

Full Stop ( . )

A full stop at the end of a sentence.

A full stop is also used with abbreviations.

Mark and Adam walk to the shops.


Comma ( , )

A comma is a pause within a sentence.

A comma is used between items in a list.

List of names.



Let’s eat, Grandma.

I went to the shop to buy eggs, milk, sugar, rice and butter.

Mpho, Muhammad, John and Roger play cricket together.

Miss Johnson, who is the school principal, will present the award during assembly.

Semicolon ( ; )

It is a long pause which separates two main clauses when there is no conjunction. It was a cold day; I had to wrap up warmly.

I like the car; it’s the same as my Uncle’s.

Colon ( : )

A colon is used after a complete sentence to introduce an idea, explanation or a list of items.



It is also used before a quote.

Jerry has many skills: running, jumping, fighting, and sewing.

John has all the ingredients: mince, milk, potatoes and onions.

A famous man once said: “I have nothing to declare except my genius!”

Question Mark (?)

A question mark is used at the end of a question. He finished on time, didn’t he?

What is your name?

Exclamation Mark ( ! )

An exclamation mark at the end of a sentence that expresses a strong feeling. Don’t do that! Be careful!

Inverted Commas (“ ”)

Inverted commas (or speech marks) are also known as quotation marks.

To show the beginning and end of spoken words, i.e., direct speech.

If the spoken words are placed before the verb, they are always followed by a comma, question mark or exclamation mark, but never a full stop.

John said, “I am so happy.”

“Why is door open?” she asked.

“Are you going to read ‘Spud’ this term?” he asked.

“‘Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it’ said Confusius,” she said to conclude her speech.

Apostrophe (‘)

An apostrophe is used to shorten words called a contraction.

The apostrophe replaces the letter or letters that have been removed.

do not – don’t

were not – weren’t

An apostrophe is also used to show possession.

The before the s is used when the noun is singular (one person).

If the noun is in the plural (more than one person), the is placed after the s.

If there is one plural then there is no apostrophe.

My Dad’s shoe is missing.

Jack’s coat is blue.

The boys’ moms are watching the soccer.

The girls’ toys are everywhere.

The girls are watching cricket.

author avatar
William Anderson (Schoolworkhelper Editorial Team)
William completed his Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts in 2013. He current serves as a lecturer, tutor and freelance writer. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, walking his dog and parasailing. Article last reviewed: 2022 | St. Rosemary Institution © 2010-2024 | Creative Commons 4.0

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