Many students encounter difficulties when trying to punctuate their essays correctly, especially those for whom English is a second language. In this series of exercises, the vocabulary for the various punctuation marks will be checked, then their function will be explored. Finally, there will be some texts to punctuate in the correct way.
- To check that the vocabulary to refer to punctuation is fully understood
- To raise awareness of the correct function of various punctuation marks
- To provide an opportunity to practise using punctuation marks correctly
Activity 1: The names and functions of the punctuation marks
Let’s begin by making sure you are familiar with the names we use to refer to the various punctuation marks and with the functions they perform in a piece of text.
Follow the link to two matching exercises: the first matching the symbols to the words and the second matching the punctuation marks to the functions they perform in a text: Punctuation Marks Exercises
Activity 2 : Capital letters and commas
In this section, we focus on the use of capital letters and commas.
Read the instructions for the two short activities below.
Part 1: Put a tick if you need to use capital letters for the categories of words in the column below. Alternatively, put a cross if it is not necessary to capitalise the words referred to.
geographical names e.g. rivers, cities, countries etc.
nationalities and languages
seasons in the year
personal names and titles
religions and religious festivals
names of companies and organisations
when beginning sentences and when quoting direct speech
Part 2: Put a tick if you need to put commas in the instances described in the column below. Alternatively, put a cross if it is not necessary to insert commas in these places.
to separate different items in a list
to separate non-defining relative clauses (which add extra, non-essential information e.g. “which was annoying”)
before direct quotations
when joining two independent clauses with the linking words: “but”, “or” and “so”
before the words “however” or “furthermore” when they connect two independent clauses
to separate the subject from a verb
before or after adverbial clauses of time (which tell you when the action took place e.g. “recently”)
Activity 3 : Inserting the correct punctuation
In this section, we focus on the use of punctuation marks.
Rewrite the following short texts, putting in the correct punctuation marks as you do so.
Exercise 1. Punctuate this text by typing into the box.
Exercise 2. Punctuate this text by typing into the box.
Would you like to review the main points?
© William Tweddle, Queen Mary, University of London, 2010, photo used under the terms of an attributive CC license: courtesy of dbdbrobot