Punctuation Rules & Examples

 To use this section as a test,
dictate the sentences for the player to write.


(1st grade)

1.  Period at the end of a telling sentence.

I like apples.
Put the book on the table.
This is my brother.


2.  Question mark at the end of an asking sentence (question).

Did you want to go?
Is this your hat?
What is your name?

  3.  Comma in writing dates. Put a comma between the day of the month and the year.

The date was March 15, 1980.
He was born June 3, 1949.
The old letter was dated April 5, 1805.

(2nd grade)

4.  Put a comma after the greeting when you are writing a letter.

Dear Mr. Smith,
     Your box arrived today.

Dear Nancy,
     Why haven't you written?

Dear Bob,
     Guess what happened to me?

  5.  Put a comma after the close in a friendly letter.

Your friend,
     John Bates

Yours truly,
     Mary Grimes

Sincerely yours,
     Don Peters

  6.  If a title of respect is abbreviated, place a period after it.

Mr. and Mrs. Smith went to see Dr. Jones.
Miss Taylor said hello to Rev. Campbell.
She said her name as Ms. Blake.


7.  Put a comma between the city and state if they are right next to each other in a line or sentence.

I live in Cupertino, California.
The letter was from Reno, Nevada.
He was born in Chicago, Illinois.

  8.  Put an exclamation point at the end of a sentence in which you want to show unusual emotion.

Watch out!
I was really excited about it!
I needed help fast!
Then I heard a terrifying scream!


  9.  Use a colon (:) to separate hours and minutes when writing the time.

It was 2:30 in the morning.
Be here at 5:15 p.m. sharp.
I need to get up at 6:45 a.m. tomorrow.

(3rd grade)

10.  Use an apostrophe to show where letters have been left out of a contraction.

I'm not ready yet.
She isn't going.
He won't do it.


11.  Put a period after each initial.

H.R. Brown was the name on the door.
We will now hear from Mary S. Carter.
The winner is J. Robert Benford.

  12.  Put a period after each abbreviation.

The house on Madison Ave. was remodeled.
He won it last Aug. 3rd on his birthday.
The factory in Detroit, Mich. was huge.

(4th grade)

13.  Place quotation marks around direct quotations.

Peter said, "Set it on the table."
Mary answered, "I don't like to race."
Jim asked, "May I have one?"

  14.  If a period, question mark, or exclamation point comes at the end of a direct quotation, place it inside the end quotation mark.

(See examples for #13.)

  15.  Use a comma to separate the day of the week from the month if they are next to each other in a line or sentence.

He left for Texas on Monday, June 5.
Our next meeting will be Thursday, March 4.
On Tuesday, May 4th, we will start.


16.  Use an apostrophe to show ownership or possession.
This is called a possessive.
('s for singular and s' for plural)
(If the plural does not end in s, add an apostrophe and an s.)

It was Bob's bicycle.
The children's picnic was fun.
The boys' baseball team won again.

  17.  Place quotation marks around a title that appears in a sentence or a list. (Book titles may be underlined instead of using quotation marks.)

I really enjoyed reading "Cinderella" last week.
I really enjoyed reading Cinderella last week.
"Treasure Island" is my favorite book.
"A Rainy Day" was the title of the poem.


18.  When you speak to a person in a sentence and call him by name, separate the name from the rest of the sentence by one or two commas.

I am sure, John, that it will work.
Bill, what do you think?
It will, Jane, be fun.


19.  When yes or no is used at the beginning of a sentence that answers a question, place a comma after the yes or no.

Yes, I will give it to you.
No, I don't think so.
Yes, it is nice.


20.  Use a comma to separate words or groups of words in a series.


I want milk, cereal, and fruit for breakfast.
We played, worked, and slept.
It was a warm, pleasant day.

    21.  When a date is given in a sentence, place a comma after the year unless the date comes at the end of the sentence.

It was on March 4, 1959, that we last saw each other.
Before September 23, 1949, not a single person owned one.
On July 4, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was signed.

(5th grade)

  22.  When writing dialogue, show change of speaker by starting a new line and indenting for each change.

"You are much too young to hunt bear," his father told him.

"But I am brave and strong," pleaded the son.

"We have to be very quiet now," whispered Jack to his hunting partner.

"Are you sure the deer is still in there?" answered Tom.

"It was a long time ago, but I still remember clearly what happened," the old man said firmly.

"In that case please tell us all about it," the young student replied.


    23.  Separate a direct quotation from the words that tell who said it with a comma. Use a question mark or exclamation point instead of a comma when appropriate.

(See examples for #22.)

    24.  Put a colon (:) after the greeting in a business letter.

Dear Mr. Brown:
I would like to order a new supply of paint.

Dear Ms. Baker:
There may have been an error in the last shipment.

Dear Mrs. Arlington:
I would like to set up an appointment.


    25.  Identify direct and indirect quotations.

Mary asked, "Did anyone see my purse?"    (Direct)
Mary asked whether anyone saw her purse. (Indirect)

Paul said he left his coat inside. (Indirect)
Paul said, "I left my coat inside." (Direct)

He answered, "I don't know." (Direct)
His answer was that he didn't know. (Indirect)


    26.  Use a comma or commas to separate introductory phrases or clauses.

In the first place, he had no business being there.
If you hear him, send him to me at once.
After some delay, the game started again.

    27.  Use a hyphen in breaking a word at the end of a line.

The cost of the new win-
dow was $5.

Make sure you take your um-

He was a very hand-
some cat.


(6th grade)


  28.  When a state, county or country is named in a sentence after a city is named, place a comma after the city and after the county, state, or country unless it is at the end of a sentence.

I lived in Denver, Colorado, for three years.
The amusement park in Santa Clara, California, is my favorite.
The trip to London, England, was really special.

    29.  Use commas to separate extra explanations in a sentence.

John, the cowboy, was tired.
Mr. Smith, our neighbor, is really nice.
That box, the one you bought yesterday, was just right.

    30.  Use a comma when joining two independent clauses joined by a coordinating conjunction.

He didn't go to the game, but he did go swimming.
I thought he knew, but I found out later he didn't.
It rained for a week, but even that wasn't enough.

(7th grade)

  31.  Use a semicolon (;) when joining two closely related independent clauses without a coordinating conjunction.

John ordered apple pie; Jim ordered a banana split.
This book is for the teacher; the other one is yours.
It began to rain hard; we were really soaked.

    32.  Use a colon (:) to introduce a series of words or phrases.

The boys chosen were: Bob, John, Mike, and David.
His favorite foods included: cereal, milk, bacon, and fruit.
The nations sending representatives were: Bulgaria, Spain, Belgium, and France.