Punctuation exists to order writing into logical blocks, and to enable a person to read a written text out loud with the appropriate stress, intonation and pauses.


1.   Here are the names of some of the different punctuation marks in English.


. = full stop (period)               , = comma                   ' = apostrophe                         - = hyphen


! = exclamation mark             ? = question mark       ; = semi-colon                        : = colon


(    ) = (in) brackets (in parentheses)             [ ] = square brackets               { } = curly brackets


— = dash                    / = slash          \ = back-slash              & = ampersand           * = asterisk


‘Hi!’ = single quotation marks (single quotes)  "Hi!" = double quotation marks (double quotes)


'Je ne sais quoi'  = inverted commas    _     = underscore                  # = hash          ¶ = paragraph mark


Apostrophes are used to show contractions and possession e.g. I'm John's sister.


Hyphens are sometimes used after prefixes and between most compound adjectives and some compound nouns


Semi-colons are often used instead of full stops where sentences are grammatically independent but the meaning is closely connected.


e.g. Some people work best in the mornings; others do better in the evenings.


They can also be used to separate items (especially of phrases) in a list.


Colons can be used before explanations, lists, to introduce quotations and in titles to separate a main heading from a sub-division.


e.g. Punctuation: colon


A dash is often used in informal writing to add afterthoughts or instead of colons and semi-colons.


e.g. "There are three things I can never remember — names, faces, and I've forgotten the other!"


Inverted commas, which sometimes have the same form as single quotes, are often used when we talk about a word, or when we use it in an unusual way. They are also used when using foreign words.


e.g. His attitude was a ‘wall’ between him and his friends. or "How do you say 'Je ne sais quoi' in English?"


Both single and double quotation marks can be used to quote speech but the mark used for an apostrophe will change accordingly.


e.g. “HIs attitude was a 'wall',” she said.       or         'His attitude was a "wall",' she said.


For a quotation within a quotation, we use the kind of marks that we are not using for the main quotation.


e.g. "Good heavens," thought Jane. "What shall I do if he says 'Yes' to me?"

2.     Numerical punctuation.


+ = plus           - = minus (subtracted from)   x = times (multiplied by)       ÷ = divided by


= = equals       > = greater than          < = less than               ≥ = greater than or equal to    ≠ = not equal to


There are differences in numerical punctuation conventions between different countries.


In English a decimal point is used for decimals        e.g. 13.0492 = thirteen point zero, four, nine, two.


0.61                 = nought point six, one (UK), zero point six, one (USA).


Whole numbers above 999 are separated by a COMMA and compound numbers are hyphenated.


23,572             = twenty-three thousand, five hundred and seventy-two.


A decimal point (a colon in USA English) is usually used to show the time.


21.30               = half past nine at night.


3.     Capital letters.


Capital letters must be written in the same way as they appear when typed and be wholly above the line on the page e.g.:


A B C  D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


The use capital letters in words varies between different languages.


In English the following groups of words must start with a CAPITAL LETTER.


Days of the week.       e.g. Monday, Tuesday etc.


Months                        e.g. September, July etc. (seasons do not usually have a capital).

                                    July/99 is incorrect in English. It should be "July '98"


Planets                                    e.g. Jupiter, Mars etc. (no capitals for: the earth, the sun or the moon).


Nationality words       e.g. I live in Brazil, I'm Brazilian and I speak Portuguese.


Professional titles       e.g. There's Colonel Sanders: he's just been promoted to general.


Points of the compass only have a capital letter when they are used in place names


e.g. If you go south from Italy, you will arrive in North Africa.


Academic subjects only start with a capital letter when referring to a specific course or language course


e.g. I studied law and French at university.  I'd like to apply for the International Law course at London University.


4.     The Internet


In an e-mail or web address, @ is pronounced like the preposition 'at' in English, ' . ' is pronounced 'dot'


e.g. Written = vivqrio@domain.com.br    Spoken = "v-i-v-q-r-i-o-'at'-d-o-m-a-i-n-'dot'-'com'-'dot'-b-r"