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Examples :: Language :: Examples of Punctuation Marks

Examples of Punctuation Marks

Punctuation marks are the equivalent of conversational pauses or tools for grammatical 'sign posts' in text.

Punctuation marks include:

Apostrophes [ ' ]

Apostrophes are used for several purposes:

  • To denote shortened words.
  • In some cases to designate use of a plural in words ending with 's'.
  • Apostrophes are also used to as a form of the possessive tense, indicating ownership of an object or other subject in a sentence.

Examples of apostrophes

  • Shortened words: It's his breath that's the problem. (It is his breath that is the problem)
  • Plurals: Cats' abilities to land on their feet are legendary. (Note that this is also related to the possessive form and in context with the sense of the sentence 'A cat's ability to land on its feet is legendary.')
  • Possessive: John's mobile phone was in Mary's briefcase on Alan's desk.'

Commas [ , ] Commas are used as separators and abbreviations of the word 'and' in groups of nouns or other subjects. They may be structured to reflect conversational punctuation or alter the form of a sentence into a better-organized and more expressive form.

Example of commas

'If, however, you want better quality in your use of language, commas, periods, question marks and other types of punctuation are the simplest options.'

Period or Full Stop [ . ]

The period or full stop is used to end a sentence. This reflects the conversational or textual sense of a statement, and organizes the use of language into sentence forms. In some cases, extended period marks are used to denote a conversation trailing off, or an open ended sentence.

Example of period or full stops

  • Conversational form: 'I wouldn't say he was stupid. I think he may even be able to tie his own shoes, if given encouragement and time.'
  • Textual form: It's unclear whether any official action is being taken regarding representations from community groups. The Ministry for Vague Pronouncements declined to comment on the issue.
  • Extended period marks: I wouldn't say that.... Would I...?

Question Mark or Interrogative marks [ ? ]

Question marks are used to signify questions. Where questions would be obvious in conversational usage, that's not always the case in text, where question marks can also be highly rhetorical or related to usage and context. In the literary form, question marks are often used to create or change a context, or identify an issue in a literary subject.

Examples of question marks

  • Conversational form: Is this train going to Paris? I thought it was going to Reykjavik?
  • Textual form: To question something means what?
  • Literary form: Can a social disease also refer to a sick society?

Exclamation Mark [ ! ]

The exclamation mark is used to emphasize an expression, denoting additional stress on a particular point within the subject. In text, it can also be used to be used to express surprise or other emotions in relation to a previous statement.

Conversational form: Look at that!

Text form:

Person A: I won't be here when you get back. I'm going to Moscow to become an expert on carrots.

Person B: !!!!!!!

Dash [ - ]

The dash is used as a pause between passages of text or specific words. It may be used as an emphasis, a break in narrative, or simply to associate a former statement with a following statement. In conversation, it denotes a short break in speech.

Conversational form: I don't know how to tell you this- I'm not really Sir Walter Raleigh- I'm an insurance sales executive called Doris from Catford.

Text form: Abbreviations- Shortened forms of words

Hyphen [ abcd-efgh]

A hyphen looks like a dash, but it's quite different, and is always directly between two words only. Hyphenation is quite common in frequently used expressions and names. In conversation, hyphenation can really only be attributed to names, not expressions.

Conversational form: Mr. and Mrs. Highly-Debatable are coming to our reception!

Textual form: It's an open-ended question whether hyphens can be well-established in normal sentences in texts without anyone noticing.

Brackets or Parentheses [ ( ) ]

Brackets or parentheses are used to separate a statement in text. They usually relate to an additional issue relevant to the text, but which is outside the narrative of the main text.

Examples of brackets or parentheses

The cat sat on the mat. (Some experts have inferred that it was looking for spiritual guidance and counseling, but in this text we're mainly concerned with its actions, not its moral failures.)

Quotes or Quotation Marks [ ' ' ]

Quotation marks are used to refer to a specific instance of a word in a context, or to quote directly from another text. In conversation, quotation can be directly mentioned in statements, or implied. Quotes may be referred to as 'quote/unquote recital of information...' or 'quote -recital of information- unquote...'

Examples of quotation marks

Conversational form (implied): You always say 'I' as if you sound like you're expecting to be saluted.

Conversational form (stated): So to quote you directly, 'This is meaningless.' To quote myself, again, "So why are we talking about it?'

Conversational form (stated): Well, if we're quote 'stable in our relationship' unquote, why are you hiding in the attic?

Semi colon [ ; ]

The semicolon is a textual alternative to a break in sentences, indicating that the narrative continues. The pause is a qualification to the use of language.

Examples of semi colon

Yes; they're coming to ask you for your support.

No; this isn't a bus stop, it's a way of life.

Colon [ : ]

The colon is a break in text usually used to create a listing or separate a statement or information from the main narrative text. In conversation, the colon is implied.

Examples of colon


The alternatives are:

  1. Emigrate.
  2. Hide.
  3. Change your name and pretend to be someone else.

Conversational form:

Theory: All sandwiches left in plastic wrappers for weeks encourage the development of new life.

Observation: Correct.