It's Important

Ending Punctuation

Periods, question marks, and exclamation points are three important punctuation marks. We know that all sentences begin with a capital letter and end with a punctuation mark. These three punctuation marks (period, question mark, exclamation point) are used to end sentences.

Periods are used for declarative and imperative sentences. A declarative sentence makes a statement. I think worms are gross. is a declarative sentence because it is making a statement. An imperative sentence gives a command or makes a request. Don't eat worms. is an imperative sentence because it is giving a command.

Can you guess what question marks are used for? I hope you said "for asking questions"! Question marks are used for interrogative sentences. Interrogative sentences ask questions. Why are you eating those worms? and How many worms have you eaten? are interrogative sentences because they ask questions; therefore, both sentences should end with question marks.

Exclamation points are used for exclamatory sentences. Exclamatory sentences show strong emotion or feelings. My little brother ate 10 worms! is an exclamatory sentence because I am shocked (a strong emotion) at how many worms my little brother ate. Exclamation points can also be used to set apart interjections. Wow! I can't believe my brother ate so many worms! is an example of an exclamation point being used with an interjection (Wow!).

The punctuation song
Listen to this song for a better understanding of periods, question marks, and exclamation points.


A comma can be used for many things. Check out some of the most common comma rules below. For more, view the punctuation lesson in Study Island.

Comma Rules:

1. Use commas before and after a quotation in a sentence.

My mom asked, "Have you cleaned your room yet?"

2. Use a comma after common introductory words in a sentence like however, clearly, well, for example, for instance.

It looks like a tornado came through my room. Clearly, I have not done what my mother has asked.

3. Use a comma + a conjunction (and, but, for, nor, yet, or, so) to connect two independent clauses (sentences that could stand on their own).

I want to go to Jessica's birthday party, but I have to clean my room first.

4. Use a comma in complex sentences that follow a DC, IC pattern (dependent clause, independent clause).

When Mom asked me to clean my room, I decided to read a book instead.

5. Use a comma to set off nonessential clauses and phrases following a proper noun.

Julia Frehner, the woman who I call Mom, asked me to clean my room.

6. Use a comma to separate a city and state.

My messy bedroom is located in Las Vegas, Nevada.

7. Use commas to separate items in a series/list of three or more.

To clean my room, I need to pick up my toys, put away my shoes, and make my bed.

8. Use commas to separate two adjectives that modify a single noun.

A clean, beautiful room is something my mom dreams about.

9. Use a comma to separate parts of dates.

I could see my room being clean by Thursday, March 24, 2016.

10. Use a comma to set off mild interjections.

Yes, I would love for you to help me clean my room.

Comma story - Terisa Folaron
Check out this video for more information on how commas are used with subordinates and conjunctions.

Quotation Marks

Most of the time quotation marks are used in writing to show a direct quotation (the exact words a person said), but quotation marks should be used for the titles of poems, short stories, and songs, as well.

Quotation Mark Rules:

1. Periods and commas always go inside quotation marks.

After Dad said, "I do not drink coffee," he went to the kitchen to get a glass of water.

2. The placement of question marks with quotes depends on the sentence. If a question is in quotation marks, the question mark should be placed inside the quote.

He asked, "Why do I have to go to the dentist?" (The question mark is inside the quotation marks because the quotation is asking a question.)

Should I tell him, "You have to go to the dentist today"? (The question mark is outside the quotation marks because the sentence is an interrogative sentence, but the quote is an imperative sentence.)

3. When you have a question outside AND inside a quote, use only one question mark and place it inside the quotation mark.

Did your brother just ask, "When is dinner?"

4. Use single quotation marks for quotes within quotes.

Cathy replied, "I think he said, 'We will be at school tomorrow.'"

5. Use quotation marks to set off a direct quotation, not an indirect one (only put quotes around what was actually said).

"Please tell me the truth," Ashton said.

He said that he needs me to tell him the truth.

6. Use quotation marks around titles of poems, short stories, and songs.

Dennis read Gil Harper's story "The Minuteman".

My favorite poem is "Smart" by Shel Silverstein.

"Blurred Lines" is the top song on the Billboard 100 music chart this week.

Quotation Marks Song - Educational Music Video


Apostrophes look similar to commas; however, apostrophes are up high, and commas are down low. An apostrophe can be used in one of two ways: to form a contraction or to form possessive nouns.

A contraction is a combination of two short words, usually a pronoun and a verb such as "you are". The apostrophe replaces the removed letters. For example the contraction for you are is you're. Notice, the letter a was removed from are, so an apostrophe is placed in its spot. The contraction for we have is we've. The apostrophe takes the place of the missing letters h and a. Click here for a list of commonly used contractions.

Possessive nouns show ownership. Apostrophes allow us to differentiate between a possessive noun and a plural noun. For example, when using the apostrophe in the word dog's, we are showing that the dog owns something, such as the dog's bone. The word dogs (without the apostrophe) shows that there is more than one dog, such as I have four dogs.

Underlines and Italics

Underlined text and italicized text (slanted) are used to show titles of books, newspapers, magazines, movies, TV shows, plays, or artwork.

Roald Dahl wrote the book James and the Giant Peach. or Roald Dahl wrote the book James and the Giant Peach.

The crossword puzzles in The New York Times are very challenging. or The crossword puzzles in The New York Times are very challenging.

Mary Poppins is my favorite movie. or Mary Poppins is my favorite movie.

Punctuation Games