Punctuations add silent intonation to your work. By observing a comma, a full stop, an exclamation mark, or a question mark, your reader can pause, stop, stress, or ask a question. Punctuations make your writing more precise and clear, especially when used properly.

More so, while we use sentences as the basic building components, punctuations clarify the idea and indicate how the sentences should be read. For this reason, all sentences must start with a capital letter and end with a full stop, an exclamation, or a question sign, depending on the context.

Nevertheless, here are some punctuation marks and the correct way to use them in your writing:

Full Stop (.)

  • Used at the conclusion of sentences.
  • Used with acronyms: St., Govt., etc.
  • Used in punctuated abbreviation in a sentence. For example, work begins at 9 a.m.
  • Additionally, when quoting from an author’s work without including the entire statement, you can use an ellipsis (…) to indicate that some words are missing from the quote.

Semicolon (;)

  • Used to divide two closely connected independent clauses without a conjunction.
  • Used to break up two clauses connected by transition words like although, nevertheless, and therefore.

Colon (:)

  • Used to clarify or demonstrate what comes after a sentence.

How to cook Afang soup is as follows: Slice your water leaf.

  • Used to introduce a list or series of examples.

Three directives are given:    1. Pull up the gear.

2. Reverse the car.

3. Drive out of the premises.

  • Used to set titles apart from subtitles.

Sabiwriters: The Story of Africa’s Award-Winning Writing Agency

  • Used to start quotations that are four lines or longer (block quotes).
  • Used in formal correspondence following a salutation

Dash (–)

  • Used to replace colon.

It is available in four colours –  red, white, blue, and yellow.

  • Used to introduce a notion into a sentence.

Chizim – my favourite writer – won best in writing

  • Used to add more details or information to some word, phrase, or clause in a sentence.

The things Chidimma excels in, like writing, speaking, and teaching – seem out of my league.

Parentheses ( )

  • You use parentheses to provide clarification or explain.

The possibility (he might be sacked) never gets to Olumide.

  • Used to encapsulate acronyms or abbreviations of spelt-out forms or the other way around.

Kehinde frequently provides advice to Nigeria Football Association (NFA).

  • Used to cite content within a text.

Kunle’s articles have been published in several journals (Journal of Humanities, 2022).

Hyphen (-)

  • Used to link compound nouns.

My brothers-in-law are coming to visit.

  • Used to join complex verbs.

Ensure you double-space that letter.

  • Used to fuse compound adjectives when they come before the noun.

The up-to-date copy is in the drive.

  • Used to show that a hyphenated compound’s first and subsequent words are suspended.

The low- and high-performance lever differed from one another.

  • Used to divide spelt-out fractions into their numerator and denominator.


  • Used to separate a word with more than two syllables at the end of a line.

Comma (,)

  • A comma is used to break out two phrases linked by a conjunction.

Olaitun likes to play golf, but she has other hobbies as well.

  • Used to distinguish opening clauses and phrases from the body of a sentence.
  • Used to divide items in a sequence.

Adedamola is an excellent dancer, poet, singer, and orator.

  • Used to break out clauses and phrases that don’t belong in the main clause.
  • Used to break apart a succession of adjectives.

This is a straightforward, uncomplicated technique.

  • Used to distinguish transitional words from the body of the sentence.

In addition, she is consistently productive.

  • Used to emphasise the names of those being spoken to in a sentence.

Well, Uduak, you’ve made it.

  • Used to distinguish items in dates, addresses, and places.

On June 30th, 2022, Onyinye released her debut book.

In conclusion, knowing how to use the correct punctuation in the right place is a cardinal rule for good writing. Therefore, you must learn to use these punctuation marks effectively if you want to build a sustainable writing career.

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