Punctuation and their functions

Punctuation adds clarity and precision to writing. The examiner expects you to use various punctuation marks correctly in your writing. Similarly, you will be expected to identify the function of specific punctuation marks as used in the given texts.

  • Brackets – Used to give additional information that stands out. Eg. Eg. John and Jane (who are brother and sister) both have red hair.
  • Capital Letters (The whole word) – Are used to lay emphasis.

Eg. It was dead in the night as I walked home. ALONE.

  • Colon : Introduce a list; used to expand on information; used to emphasis a point.


  • This is what I will buy from the shops: chocolate, milk, and bacon.
  • We had to cancel the party: too many people were sick.
  • I’m studying two subjects at the University: English and Philosophy.
  • Commas – They are used in lists; indicate extra einformation; they are used to separate main and subordinate clauses.


  • My favourite sports are footballrugbyswimmingboxing and golf.
  • John ,the boy who joined our class this term, has been very hardworking.
  • As the year came to an end, he realised the days were getting shorter.
  • Dash – It is to insert additional information.

Eg. My best friend  whom I’ve known since I was a kid  is moving away.

  • Ellipsis – Are used to make the reader continue reading; the intentional omission of words; a pause in speech; an unfinished thought; a sentence that trails into silence.


  • “It’s not easy to explain. It’s not…” Her voice trailed away as emotion welled up within her.
  • She began to count, “One, two, three, four” until she got to 10, then went to find him.
  • Exclamation Mark – Used to excite the senses and show something is surprising or forceful.

Example: Sit down and shut your mouth! Now!

  • Semicolon – It can join two clauses to substitute a conjunction; a super comma to separate items in a list; to separate information in a sentence.


  • I had a huge meal; however, I am already hungry again
  • Our school is known for many things: the quality of the teaching, especially in English; the healthy and appealing food; the intelligence and helpfulness of the students.
  • Tara is a good speaker; she speaks very clearly.
  • Speech marks – Used to show dialogue.

“You need to be more careful next time!” exclaimed Pia as she warned her sister.

  • Apostrophe: used in contractions to show omission; used to show possession.


  • Ive seen that movie several times.
  • Saras dog bit the neighbor.