Punctuation marks on a page are similar to signs on a road. They guide you and direct you.

1. A period ( . ) ends a declarative or imperative sentence.

I live in Pasadena. They don't live in Pasadena.

Listen to me. Don't drink and drive. Please come here. Eat your vegetables.

2. A question mark ( ? ) ends an interrogative sentence.

Do you live in Pasadena? Don't you like chocolate ice cream?

3. An exclamation mark ( ! ) ends an exclamatory sentence (a sentence that contains a lot of emotion).

Help! Stop! Don't call me again!

4. A comma ( , ) separates items in a list.

I like coffee, soda, milk, and tea. Sara, Maria, Robert and Steven will eat lunch.

5. A semicolon separates equal parts of a sentence.

Mary is at home; Bob is at school.

Give me a hamburger, with onions and lettuce; a coke, with a straw; and fries, with ketchup.

6. A colon ( : ) usually precedes a list.

Bring these things with you: a book, a pencil, and a dictionary.

7. A dash ( ) usually indicates a break in thought.

I'll have a hot dog with mustard no, make that ketchup.

8. A hyphen ( - ) separates syllables to make a word easier to read.

co-ordinate re-elect pray-er

A hyphen also separates syllables when it's necessary to continue a word on the following line.

9. Parentheses ( ) or a pair of dashes contain extra information.

John (my brother) is coming to the party.

John my brother is coming to the party.

10. An ellipsis (...) shows that information is missing or deleted.

"To be or not...the question." ("To be or not to be. That is the question.")

11. Quotation marks (" ") enclose the exact words of a person.

Maria said, "Where are the keys?"

12. An apostrophe ( ' ) is a substitute for a letter or letters (in a contraction).

isn't = is not can't = cannot don't = do not I'll = I will I'm = I am He's sick. = He is sick.

Bob's rich. = Bob is rich. What's new? = What is new? They've worked. = They have worked.

'99 = 1999

An apostrophe also shows possession.

This is Sara's book. (Don't say: This is the book of Sara.) Where is the dog's dish?