Punctuation Marks: Definition, Types, Uses and Examples


Punctuations are marks or symbols used to create and support meaning within a sentence or to break it up. Without punctuations, the words would only appear as a mash up of words, and it would be difficult to make meaning to any written words.

It is therefore important to know how to properly use punctuations to be able to make meaningful essays.

However, It is also important to note that punctuation marks are necessary to help the reader keep reading; when the punctuation marks are properly used it keeps the words flowing naturally, therefore making for ease of reading and understanding.

Well placed punctuation marks can be life-saving; they can bring a completely different meaning to a written page. For example; I told him you are an idiot, and I told him ‘you are an idiot.’ Both short sentences have the exact same word counts, and the exact same word arrangements, but the meanings are completely different. The properly placed quotation marks make all the difference. We will now address punctuation marks, one by the other, in order to show their importance.

Punctuation Marks: Definition, Types, Uses and Examples 1

Types of Punctuations and Their Uses

There are different types of punctuation marks, and they all help the writer and reader to make meaning of words. The punctuation marks all serve to dictate the speed, and fluency with which the words are read. Some examples are below:

1. Full Stop .

A full stop is the punctuation name for a mark that is used to show the end of a sentence. When a reader comes across a full stop, he is to stop, or break for a second or two, allowing himself and any listeners to know that a sentence has ended, and that any information contained before it, is to be processed separately.

Full stops are used to indicate that it is the end of a sentence, usually communicating a complete point or thought. It highlights a new sentence and it is about to begin as shown in this punctuation example:

  1. I have a new pair of shoes.
  2. I just got a new smartphone.

2. Comma ,

Comma is the punctuation name for a mark that is used in breaking down sentences, to combine two clauses or to show when to pause. This pause usually goes with a change of tone, which shows that while the information that has just been read is separated, it still relates to what is about to be read.


  1. Despite the fact I hate mathematics, I quite like learning about equations.
  2. There is no class today, but you have to be in school.

This shows how commas emphasize and tell the reader when to pause.

3. Question marks ?

Question mark is the punctuation name for a mark that shows that a question has been raised. It is a straightforward indicator that a response is expected. They simply indicate that the speaker is asking a question. They’re used at the end of every question or interrogative sentences.


  1. Have you eaten?
  2. When is your examination commencing?

4. Exclamation Mark !

Exclamation mark is the punctuation name for a mark that can change the meaning and tone of a sentence. They still end a sentence, but they can add emotion; whether it’s excitement, anger or nervousness.


  1. Look, it’s a cat!
  2. I’m so nervous about my SATs exams!
  3. I can’t believe you just said that!

These sentences convey very different emotions using an exclamation mark, so it can be confusing. Yet imagine they used a full stop instead; these emotions would be much harder to read and understand.

A sentence which needs an exclamation mark, is called an exclamatory sentence.

5. Colons :

Colon is the punctuation name for a mark that are ideal for connecting two clauses. They’re also great for introducing a list of three or more things.

For sentence

  1. Never go out in the sun without sunscreen: you’ll damage your skin.
  2. I’m visiting four cities this summer: Rome, Florence, Paris, and Seville.

6. Semicolons ;

Semicolons get a bad reputation for being difficult, but in truth, they’re super handy. You can use a semicolon to join 2 main or independent clauses which have equal importance.


(a) Sunday was hungry; he hasn’t eaten all day.

(b) I injured my leg; I went to play football.

7. Apostrophes ‘

Apostrophes are used to identify something that belongs to someone or to show a letter or multiple letters are missing from a word. Yet as simple as this sound, many adults often misplace or forget apostrophes, even putting them in a place they shouldn’t be. The following sentences show how to use an apostrophe for contractions, where letters are missing from.

  1. We weren’t meant to leave before 4 O’clock, so we can’t go yet.
  2. The student’s job was to make sure no one touched the pet rabbit’s breakfast.
  3. The girls’ toy truck had broken.

8. Dash —

A dash is the punctuation name for a mark that is used to separate words into statements, it also creates a break in sentences halfway between. There are two common types of dashes: en dash and em dash which vary in length. The en dash is twice as long as a hyphen and is most commonly used to signify a range between two words or numbers;

For example the date range 2021 — 2022

Meanwhile, the same dash can be used in place of a comma, parenthesis, or colon to enhance readability or emphasize the conclusion of a sentence.


  1. He gave the answer to her No!

9. Hyphen –

Hyphen is the punctuation mark that links words or parts of words together. It also shows that a word continues on the next line. You did not have to give space when using hyphens unlike when using dash.

Also, it is half as long as dash;


  1. Favor had a part-time job that enabled her to go to school also.
  2. Mother-in-law.

10. Parenthesis { } [ ]

A parenthesis is a word, phrase, or sentence that is inserted into writing as extra information using brackets, commas or dashes.


  1. James {who was terrified of heights} was going to ride the biggest rollercoaster in the theme park.

When a whole sentence is written inside a parenthesis then the full stop will be included inside the parenthesis;

Example –

  1. Please read this story, {You’ll be amazed.}

However, if the majority of a sentence is written outside the parentheses, then the full stop should also be used on the outside, for example,

  1. You are late {aren’t you?}

11. Bracket ( )

Brackets is the punctuation name for a mark that are curved symbols that look like ( ) and are used to separate non-essential or additional information from a sentence.


  1. She finally answered (after taking five minutes to think) that she didn’t understand the question.
  2. James (who was terrified of heights) was going to ride the biggest rollercoaster in the theme park
  3. Please read this story, (You’ll be amazed.)
  4. You are late (aren’t you?)

12. Quotation Marks “ ”

Quotation mark is the punctuation name for marks that are the primary type of punctuation used in quotes. These are inverted commas that are used as either single (‘ ’) or double (“ ”) sets. They are used either to mark the beginning and end of a title or quoted passage. When a reader comes in contact with quotation marks, he is expected to alter his voice, showing that the words being read are not his idea.

Other professional readers also say “Quote” or “in Quote” when reading a quote so that the listeners know that he is reading a quote. The reader is still expected to alter his voice further emphasizing that the ideas being read do not belong to him. Furthermore, when reading the words inside a quotation mark, one is expected to read word for word, exactly as they appear.


  1. Walking across the beach Mary said, “the weather is very sunny today.”
  2. “The women’s business meeting had been delayed.”

13. Ellipsis …

An ellipsis (plural ellipses) is a punctuation mark made up of 3 dots. Ellipses are commonly used to indicate the omission of words, lines or paragraphs from a quoted passage. Also to show the trailing off of thoughts or to create suspense.


  1. ‘Today…we are proud to announce our new product.’
  2. They will be teachers meeting during school hours…

14. Slash\/

The symbol () is called a backslash, while (/) is called a forward slash, which is also known as a virgule, a stroke or even an oblique dash. These are the two types of slash.

The backslash () is a typographical mark used merely for computer coding and file names. It is not a form of punctuation mark in English. We often use the backslash to separate computer folder names, especially in Windows systems.


  1. C:\Program Files
  2. D:\OFFICE\OFFICE 2010

The forward slash (/), often simply referred to as a slash (which is also known as a stroke, a virgule, or even an oblique dash), is a punctuation mark used in English. The slash can be used to separate dates, in fractions, in poems or lyrics.


(a)½ (a half/ one half)

(b) 12/07/2022, etc.

  1. Asterisks *

An asterisk is a punctuation mark you can use to note something in writing, or to stand in for something you probably omitted. It is also used to point out disclaimers and ungrammatical constructions as well as in company logos.


  1. E*TRADE
  2. *Two paintings is on the wall

16. Underscore_

The underscore sign is specifically used to show a space where a space is not allowed, such as in internet usernames, email addresses and some computer programs. It can also be called under-strike, under-bar, under-dash, underline. It can be used to create blank lines and also in emails.


  1. John Mikel Obi is _______________
  2. Please sign here: _________________
  3. Freeman_photos@gmail.com

As you must have seen from the post; punctuation marks can make all the difference in a written page, they guide the reader on the speed and fluency of the written words, which in turn helps the reader to gain the expected meaning, just as the writer must have intended it.