In writing, punctuation is important because it makes our piece meaningful and allows the reader follow the thoughts of the writer. Punctuation is the use of special marks or signs to divide a writing into sentences, clauses, phrases etc. It also distinguishes statement from commands or from exclamatory remarks or from questions.


  1. FULL STOP (.)

This marks the end of a sentence. It is also used to indicate abbreviations (initials, degrees, titles) e. g Rev., Prof., B.sc, B.A, Ide O. I, etc. However, the full stop should not be used for acronyms which are abbreviations for professional, business or governmental organization such as INEC, NBA, UFO, etc.


This is used after a question which demands a reply. What is your name?

It is also used after a command that is put in the form of a question. Get out, will you?

It is used after a rhetorical question.

Note: do not use the question mark after an indirect question. Do not use full stop after a question mark.


This mark is used to show emotions, indicate great emphasis and also used after a forceful command. Examples

What a shame!

Go and get the key now!

  1. COLON:

It is used to introduce listing, explanation or enumeration.

It is also used to introduce a formal quotation.

The colon separates chapters from verses in Bible references; separates a title from a subtitle of a book.


This is used when a writer continues a line of thought in a sentence and wants to indicate a pause that is longer than the comma.

It is used to link closely related clauses when the conjunction is omitted.

  1. COMMA:

It is used after a formal salutation or complimentary close. Dear Sir, Yours faithfully, etc.

A comma is used to show a pause in a statement.

It is also used to separate words that are used in opposition to a noun e.g. Nigeria, the giant of Africa, is rich in natural resources.


It is used to pluralize items, words and numbers.

It is also used to indicate ownership or possession

It also indicates a missing letter or letters.


Quotation marks can be single or double. Single quotation mark are British oriented while double quotation marks are used by the American.

It is used to indicate a quotation.

It is used to indicate the exact words of the speaker.

To emphasize a word used I special or technical sense.

  1. HYPHEN (-)

A compound word used as an adjective is linked by the hyphen e.g. a three-hour lecture.

The hyphen is used to join some prefixes to the main words e.g. ex-president, anti-climax etc.

  1. DASH (_)

A dash is longer than a hyphen and perform different functions.

It is used to introduce an enumeration.

It is used to mark a parenthesis: to indicate a pause or break in a speaker’s line of thought.

It comes after a repeated word.

A good use of the punctuation marks helps a writer’s piece to be meaningful, sensible to follow and accurately pass on its intended message.


Capitalization is the appropriate use of the capital letters in a writing. The English letters come in big and small forms or upper and lower case. The proper use of the uppercase gives a writing a wholesome look and is evidence of a good writer.

  • The capital letter is used to begin a sentence.
  • The capital letter begins a proper noun.
  • The capital letter begins words in titles, position and rank.
  • It begins lines of poetry.
  • The first personal pronoun “I” is always written in capital letters.
  • The direct speech is written in capital letters.
  • Pronouns which refer to God are written in capital letters.
  • Capital letter is used to highlight expression which requires emphasis in a writing.

In essay writing, punctuation and capitalization fall under the category of Mechanics and a good write up must obey the proper use of both concepts in writing.


Punctuate the following sentences

  1. What time is it asked the traveler
  2. My father exclaimed what a lovely view
  3. Oh cried the boy I have hurt my finger
  4. The soldier said Get on your knees
  5. Caro shoes blocked the passage


Correct and use the capital letter in the following sentences when necessary:

Tabu looked up from his book to see what had made the noise. He noticed his sister, Masya swinging from an Iroko tree and glimpsed a snake on its branches. It was a python. Tabu rushed out only to see the snake slither into the bush.


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