Punctuation - Part 1

Along with capitalization, another grammar point that can be tricky to understand is punctuation.
  • When do you use a period?
  • a question mark?
  • a comma?
  • a semicolon?
... and many other forms of punctuation as well.

Punctuation is important because it helps your reader make sense of how you've organized your thoughts in your writing.

In this post, I want to talk about the punctuation we use at the end of sentences.
We use three forms of punctuation at the end of sentences:
  • period
  • question mark
  • exclamation point


We use a period to show the reader that the thought, the idea of the sentence is now concluded.

I like pizza.
Yesterday Maria bought a new TV.
Eric went to the shopping mall and met his friends there.

It can confuse your readers if you don't have a period at the end of your sentences.

Examples of sentences without periods:
Yesterday was a busy day for me I had a doctor's appointment I got an oil change for my car My cousins stopped by for a visit I had a phone call from my aunt who lives in Colorado

Note: We also use periods with some abbreviations and shortened name titles, such as:
   Mrs. Mason
   Dr. Wilson
   Last Feb. I went to the conference.
   He lives at 500 Main St. in Columbus, Ind.

Question Mark

We use a question mark instead of a period when the sentence is a question.

How much does that cost?
Where did Robert put the car keys?
Are you hungry?
How long have you lived here?

Note: For an embedded question, we use a period instead of a question mark if the question is embedded in a sentence.

Example: I was wondering how much it cost.

Exclamation Point

We use an exclamation point to show strong emotion, to show that we are very excited about the thought, the idea that we are expressing in the sentence.

That's great!
I am so proud of you!
I love this restaurant!
That is so unfortunate!
My vacation to Brazil starts tomorrow!
Nancy told me that she got the promotion!
I hate this music! Please turn it off!

Also, we often use exclamation points when using short phrases that convey a burst of emotions (called interjections), such as:
   No way!
   Careful! Watch out!


So now let's practice. Add a period, question mark, or exclamation point to these sentences. Check below for the answers.

  1. Did Timothy finish his work yet
  2. Nicholas already left for the meeting
  3. This place is so incredible
  4. Dr Stark teaches music at the high school
  5. Wow
  6. How many fish did you catch
  7. Have you met my cousin
  8. Unbelievable
  9. I have a cousin who lives in New York
  10. I got the job


  1. Did Timothy finish his work yet?
  2. Nicholas already left for the meeting.
  3. This place is so incredible!
  4. Dr. Stark teaches music at the high school.
  5. Wow!
  6. How many fish did you catch?
  7. Have you met my cousin?
  8. Unbelievable!
  9. I have a cousin who lives in New York.
  10. I got the job!

Read next: Punctuation - Part 2

I hope this post has been helpful for you. How did you do with the practice activity? Please comment below with any questions or comments you have about punctuation or writing skills in general.

Matthew Huseby, M.A.
My Langauge Success LLC

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