Punctuation is the use of symbols in English sentences. These symbols include the period (.), question mark (?), exclaimation (!), comma (,), colon (:), semi-colon (;), apostrophe ('), quotation mark ("), dash (-), em-dash (—), and parenthesis (()). Understanding how to properly punctuate sentences is essential for general, academic (EAP), and professional writing.
Feel free to review these pages before doing the exercises:
- Avoiding Comma-Splices
- How to Use a Colon
- How to Use a Semi-colon
- Emphasizing Information in Writing: Parentheses, Commas, & Em-dashes
Let the exercise begin. If no punctuation is needed, leave the blank option selected.
Intermediate Punctuation Exercises
- Although she was hungry she didn't want to eat.
- I don't know who did it
- My father loves cooking Tennis is my favorite hobby.
- Barack Obama was born in
- Let's go out for dinner, shall we
- In the car she finished the rest of her homework.
- I ordered some pizza a glass of wine.
- When the dependent (subordinate) clause starts a sentence, put a comma at the end of the clause (before the independent clause begins). Read this for help with clauses.
- The sentence begins with "I", so this is a statement.
- These are two independent clauses. Put a period between them. You should not use a semi-colon here as the sentences are not closely related in topic.
- Use a comma between a city and a country's name.
- Use a question mark at the end of a tag question.
- "In the car on the way to school" is a prepositional phrase. You should put a comma after it so the reader can clearly see that "she" is the subject of the sentence.
- Don't use a comma when a list only has two items.
Upper-Intermediate Punctuation Exercises - Group 1
- The dog ran outside Then it started barking.
- He won a million dollars. In other words, he won
- The boy shouted, "I want some ice cream
- The phone rang while I was eating.
- "This is the best day of my life said Jim.
- You can eat there however, I wouldn't recommend it.
- These are two independent clauses. You cannot join them with a comma (doing so would create a comma splice). To join them, you'd need a conjunction like "and". Because there is no conjunction, the clauses should remain separate with a period.
- At the end of a sentence, put the final punctuation mark (an exclamation mark here) before the final quotation mark.
- Do not use any punctuation here because the dependent clause ("while I was eating.") is at the end of the sentence.
- Keep the punctuation inside the quotation mark.
- You must use a semi-colon here. There is no conjunction ("however" is an adverb) so you cannot use a comma here (if you do, you create a comma splice). You cannot use a period because "however" is not capitalized.
Upper-Intermediate Punctuation Exercises - Group 2
Note: Select the blank option if no punctuation is needed.
- Please bring the following items a hat, sunscreen, a bathing suit, and a towel.
- She ordered a pizza, chicken wings, and a salad.
- Ottawa is in the province of Ontario.
- We went to Chris apartment and then to my parents house.
- My mother is a
- Brian picked me up in his car and then we drove to the beach.
- was a day I'll never forget.
- She's coming to the meetingI think.
- Use a colon after a complete sentence ("Please bring the following items" is an independent clause) to introduce a list. Help here.
- Do not use any punctuation here. You cannot use a colon because "She ordered" is not a complete sentence. Do not put any punctuation between a verb and its object(s).
- The phrase "the capital of Canada" is extra information. Use commas, parentheses, or em-dashes to introduce extra information. Help here.
- "Chris" is a singular noun, so add an apostrophe + s to it to change it into possessive form. "Parents" is a plural noun ending in 's', so only add an apostrophe to it to change it to possessive form.
- The phrase "63 years old" becomes an adjective to describe the noun "woman", so it must be changed to singular form (years > year) and hyphenated.
- The phrase 'an old Volkswagen' is extra information describing the car. Use commas, parentheses, or em-dashes to add extra information.
- Using the month-date-year format, a comma is required after the year.
- Ellipses have three periods, and no spaces before or after.
Advanced Punctuation Exercises
- My coach was rightI wasn't prepared which is why I didn't do well.
- Expert Joanne Smith explains the cause of the problem Many people are too lazy to recycle.
- The website was created in 2011.
- "I don't know whyI cannot find a satisfying job."
- The bookdoes not discuss social media.
- The countries we visited had delicious restaurants.
- The company plans to expand to three countries:
- My pet lizard enjoys sleeping. favorite hobby.
- You can use a colon or em-dash here to introduce the reason why your coach was right. You should not use a comma because "I wasn't prepared" is not extra information; rather, it provides the reason why you believe your coach was right. At the end of the sentence, use a comma before 'which' to introduce a non-defining adjective clause.
- After a complete sentence, use a colon to introduce an explanation/reason for the previous sentence. Note that the sentence after the colon can either begin with a capital letter because it also is a complete sentence.
- No punctuation is required because the clause is a defining adjective clause.
- Again, keep the punctuation within the quotation mark.
- This is a good example of the use of an em-dash to emphasize extra information. If you use an em-dash in the middle of a sentence, you need to use one at the beginning of the clause and one at the end.
- These countries are extra information in the sentence, so they are offset by commas.
- When a list already contains commas, a semi-colon can be used to help avoid confusion.
- It is = "It's". Then use "its" to indicate possessive.
Did you find a mistake? Do you have a question? Leave a comment below.
- Exercises created by Matthew Barton (copyright) of EnglishCurrent.com