The Punctuation Practise Page

PUNCTUATION  ADVICE & PRACTISE

The colon  :  can be used in a number of ways, including:

  • before a list of words or phrases
  • in the 24 hour clock
  • to signal to the reader that something important is coming.

In addition, it makes the comment after the colon more forceful.

 Practise Task 1a

Add colons where appropriate and explain why they are there.

  1.  Here are the winning Bingo numbers 36, 66, 72, 77, 81, 86 and 90.
  2.  In the 24 hour clock 3pm is 1500 hours.
  3.  I have one thing to say to you drop dead.
  4.  The potion contained some exotic ingredients snails’ eyes, bats’ tongues and garlic.
  5.  The train leaves at 1900 hours, so please don’t be late.
  6.  The vorpal sword went snicker snack off flew the Jabberwocky’s head.
  7. These are the colours of the flag of France blue, white and red.
  8. An 11-year-old boy sneaked on board the 1415 flight for Rome.
  9. There is one thing that mankind cannot live without hope.
  10. 10. As Tiny Tim was heard to say God bless us all.

Practise Task 1b

Rewrite these sentences using a colon to make them more stylish.

  1.      I really can’t stand cold rice pudding.

2.    The one country I would really love to visit is Mexico.

3.    You have no choice but to accept the referee’s decision.

4.    Climate change is the most serious threat to mankind’s survival.

5.    The song says that love and marriage go together like a horse and carriage.

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The semi-colon  ;  links two statements that are connected in some way.

Here are some examples:

It was raining cats and dogs; everyone got soaked to the skin.

It was a dark and stormy night; the wind howled like wolves.

I avoid rice pudding; dairy products don’t agree with me.

Things to note…

  • the semi-colon separates two complete sentences;
  • the second sentence has a strong relation to the first sentence;
  • the semi-colon is be used in the place of a connective;
  • do not use a capital letter after a semi-colon unless it would have one anyway; for example ‘I’ or a proper noun such as a name.

Practise Task 2

Add semi-colons where appropriate and explain why they are there.

  1. We missed the last bus we had to walk all the way home.
  2. Dogs are pack animals cats are solitary creatures.
  3. Grammar is very important it improves communication.
  4. A smile is the shortest distance between friends smile a lot.
  5. I thought semi-colons were difficult they’re actually quite easy!
  6. Amber wore a white dress for the wedding Archie wore his kilt.
  7. You said robbing the bank would be easy why are we in prison then?
  8. I beg your pardon I didn’t promise you a rose garden.
  9. Suzie stayed out in the sun too long she looks like a greasy chip.
  10. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing get a little knowledge live dangerously.

Warning!

Some students are so thrilled by semi-colons they splatter them all over their writing. Do not do this!  Use only two or three in any piece of writing. If you use too many, it can look a bit odd.

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The dash  –  Use a dash to a show a sudden break or shift in your train of thought. Use the dash to show something has suddenly occurred to you. Here are some examples:

  •  Only an idiot would go into that lion’s cage   –   so in you go!
  • I think – no, I’m sure – I’m right.
  • Look at the time – we’d better get a move on.

 Practise Task 3

Complete these sentences by adding a remark after the dash.

  1. I kicked the wall with my big toe –
  2. I’m not sure if this dress suits me –
  3. If at first you don’t succeed –

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The hyphen –  looks exactly like a dash but we use it to join the parts of compound words. A compound word is a word made up two or more words.  These examples make it easy to understand.

  1. ‘Hands up!! This is a hold-up.’
  2. I love eighteenth-century architecture.
  3. Susan is my sister-in-law and Andy is my brother-in-law.
  4. Maria shot her husband in self-defence while he was sleeping.
  5. Mum’s a little over-weight and dad’s a little under-weight.

Practise Task 4

Put in the hyphens where they are needed.

  1. Don’t drive down there. It’s a one way street.
  2. Going to Italy was a last minute decision.
  3. I love treacle coated apples.
  4. The BBC gives us up to the minute news.
  5. Don’t listen to all that gossip and tittle tattle.

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Brackets (round)

We use round brackets (also known as parentheses) in much the same way as we use dashes. The information in brackets is slightly apart from the rest of the sentence. They are useful when the writer (you) wants to make a little comment to the reader. We can also use them to enclose a small piece of information explaining what we are writing about. Here are some examples:

  1. Many people (but not me) think dogs make better pets than cats.
  2. Oliver Twist was written by Charles Dickens (1812-70).
  3. WJS (Whitstable Junior School) is located near the library in Whitstable.
  4. Freddy is absent again (tummy upset this time).
  5. “You will succeed (98 and ¾ percent guaranteed),” said Dr. Seuss.

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Ellipsis    isthree dots in a row, and we can use them in three ways.

  1. to create a feeling  of suspense.   And the winner is …
  2. to show that a sentence has been left unfinished because it has simply trailed off.  Watch this space …
  3. to show that part of a quotation has been left out.

The teacher told us, “Collect your books, tidy your desks … go home.”

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What is expected…

Level 1

full stops  –  capital letters at the start of a sentence

Level 2

full stops – question marks – capital letters

Level 3

.     ?     ,     !     capital letters

Level 4

.     ?     ,     !     capital letters   “     “    apostrophes

Level 5 .     ?     ,     !     capital letters   “     “    apostrophes

dash   hyphen  brackets   colon  semi-colon  ellipsis

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11 Responses
  1. Joseph says:

    Practise Task 1a

    1. Here are the winning Bingo numbers: 36, 66, 72, 77, 81, 86 and 90.
    2. In the 24 hour clock 3pm is: 1500 hours.
    3. I have one thing to say to you: drop dead.
    4. The potion contained some exotic ingredients: snails’ eyes, bats’ tongues and garlic.
    5. The train leaves at: 1900 hours, so please don’t be late.
    6. The vorpal sword went snicker snack: off flew the Jabberwocky’s head.
    7.These are the colours of the flag of France: blue, white and red.
    8.An 11-year-old boy sneaked on board the: 1415 flight for Rome.
    9.There is one thing that mankind cannot live without: hope.
    10.As Tiny Tim was heard to say: God bless us all.

    Practise Task 1b

    1. I really can’t stand cold rice pudding: it doesn’t agree with me.

    2. The one country I would really love to visit is Mexico: I really want to eat a tortilla on the beach.

    3. You have no choice but to accept the referee’s decision : it is actually a really good one.

    4. Climate change is the most serious threat to mankind’s survival: ther polar ice caps are melting so rivers are bursting.

    5. The song says that love and marriage go together like a horse and carriage: it is a very good comparison.

  2. Alex M says:

    1.‘Hands up!! -This is a hold-up.’
    2.I love eighteenth-century architecture.
    3.Susan is my sister-in-law and Andy is my brother-in-law.
    4.Maria shot her husband in self-defence while he was sleeping.
    5.Mum’s a little over-weight and dad’s a little under-weight

  3. holly says:

    I have got some sentences were you will have to fing the adverbs.
    1.I was walking home from school and i saw some people running very quickly and some people very slowly.
    2.I had brought some sweets and i loved them that much that i ate them very slowly.
    3.I was walking to the park and a butterfly flew past me and its wings were beautifully patterend.
    4.In my playhouse the was a massive spider that scurried across the floor quickly.

  4. Alex M says:

    Thanks Mr H these will help me with my spag. 😀

  5. Alex M says:

    PRACTISE TASK A
    1 . Here are the winning Bingo numbers: 36, 66, 72, 77, 81, 86 and 90.
    2. In the 24 hour clock 3pm is 15:00 hours.
    3. I have one thing to say to you: drop dead.
    4. The potion contained some exotic ingredients: snails’ eyes, bats’ tongues and garlic.
    5. The train leaves at 19:00 hours, so please don’t be late.
    6. The vorpal sword went snicker snack: off flew the Jabberwocky’s head.
    7.These are the colours of the flag of France: blue, white and red.
    8.An 11-year-old boy sneaked on board the: 1415 flight for Rome.
    9.There is one thing that mankind cannot live without: hope.
    10.10. As Tiny Tim was heard to say: God bless us all

  6. Ben says:

    1.We missed the last bus; we had to walk all the way home.
    2.Dogs are pack animals; cats are solitary creatures.
    3.Grammar is very important; it improves communication.
    4.A smile is the shortest distance;between friends smile a lot.
    5.I thought semi-colons were difficult; they’re actually quite easy!
    6.Amber wore a white dress for the wedding; Archie wore his kilt.
    7.You said robbing the bank would be easy; why are we in prison then?
    8.I beg your pardon; I didn’t promise you a rose garden.
    9.Suzie stayed out in the sun too long; she looks like a greasy chip.
    10.A little knowledge is a dangerous thing; get a little knowledge live dangerously.

  7. Joseph says:

    PRACTISE TASK 2( semicolon)

    1.We missed the last bus; we had to walk all the way home.
    2.Dogs are pack animals; cats are solitary creatures.
    3.Grammar is very important; it improves communication.
    4.A smile is the shortest distance between friends; smile a lot.
    5.I thought semi-colons were difficult; they’re actually quite easy!
    6.Amber wore a white dress for the wedding; Archie wore his kilt.
    7.You said robbing the bank would be easy; why are we in prison then?
    8.I beg your pardon; I didn’t promise you a rose garden.
    9.Suzie stayed out in the sun too long; she looks like a greasy chip.
    10.A little knowledge is a dangerous thing; get a little knowledge live dangerously.

  8. Alex H says:

    Elipsis sentece:

    Thank you everybody for taking part in the sports day but the person that should be the mosty proud of themselves is…
    And that is the end. Oh, Alex Hodgkiss of course. Ha! 🙂

  9. Ellie W says:

    Hi Mr Holder, I will have a go at some of these!

  10. Mitchell says:

    The cat is fat: he eats loads of meat.
    What’s that?
    BANG!
    I went to the shop; I didn’t get anything.
    An old man (who is 64) likes turtles!
    “I like lamb,” said Alex.
    -As silent as an assassin, the stars -on their mission- guarded time and space.-
    If I went to the shop, I could get some sweets.
    Hi there.
    Don’t do that!

    By Mitchell H

  11. Mitchell says:

    Thanks for putting these on Mr Holder!

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