Here are some common rules for using punctuation in your writing. Of course, this is not a complete list. If you have further questions, check a grammar book or ask your teacher.
– the first word of every sentence.
– days of the week (Tuesday) and months of the year (April).
– the first letter (only) of the names of people and places (Bangkok, Ayaka Seo).
– the main words of a title, but not articles [a, an, the) or prepositions (words like to, of, for) or conjunctions [and, but), unless they are the first word in the title:
The Three Things I Do in the Morning
Full stop ( . )
A full stop comes at the end of a statement:
An electronic dictionary is more convenient than a paper one.
Comma ( , ) Use a comma to separate a series of three or more items:
I take a dictionary, a notebook and some paper to class every day.
Use a comma before words like and, but, or, so, and yet to separate two parts of a sentence that each have a subject and a verb.
She needed some work experience, so she got a part-time job.
He did not study at all, but he still got 87% in the test.
Use a comma after an introductory word or expression, such as However, Therefore, and In conclusion:
However, the high price of electric cars means that most people cannot afford one.
Quotation marks (‘ ‘)
Use quotation marks when you type or write the title of a book or film:
‘Hamlet’ was written by Shakespeare.
When you use a word processor, you can use italics instead:
Hamlet was written by Shakespeare.
Use quotation marks to show the exact words someone said or wrote:
The teacher announced, ‘We’re going to have an exam next week.’ Shakespeare wrote, ‘All the world’s a stage’.
Do not use quotation marks if you’re reporting
what another person said:
The teacher said that we should study hard this week.
Note: That, as used in the sentence above, usually indicates that the remark is not a direct quotation.
Punctuation when using quotation marks
If you are using expressions like he said or the girl remarked after the quotation, then use a comma and not a full stop at the end of the quoted sentence:
‘We’re going to have an exam next week,’ announced the teacher.
Use a full stop if the quoted sentence comes at the end:
The professor announced, ‘We’re going to have an exam next week.’
Notice how a comma is used after announced, above, to introduce the quotation.
Full stops and commas are placed inside quotation marks. Exclamation marks and question marks may come inside or outside, depending on whether they are part of the quotation or part of the surrounding sentence:
‘Do you know who wrote Hamlet?’ asked the teacher.
Do you know who said ‘All the world’s a stage’?
Quotation marks and capitalization
Capitalise the first letter of the word that begins a quotation. However, if an expression like she said interrupts the quotation and divides the sentence, then do not capitalise the first word of the part that finishes the quotation:
‘Next week’, said the teacher, ‘we are going to have an exam.’
The comma after week separates the quotation from the rest of the sentence.
Use a capital letter only if the second part is a new, complete sentence:
‘We’ll have an exam next week,’ explained the teacher. ‘It will take thirty minutes.’
Advice for academic writing
The following are not usually used in academic writing, although they are fine in informal situations, such as letters to your friends.
– Brackets that give information which is not part of your main sentence: