Let’s talk about punctuation

Welcome to another Clive’s English Corner post!

Today’s grammar point is:


For ESL learners, punctuation sometimes is quite puzzling because rules might be slightly different from your native language’s, but the rules in English are actually quite clear-cut. Today, let’s focus on two of the most important punctuation signs and some of their use cases.


Period or Full stop(.)

This is one of the easiest signs to use. We use it to end a sentence or paragraph. However, the same symbol might be named differently depending on the context or topic that you are using it in.     

Point(numbers) Use the name “point” when we are discussing figures. For example, “it went up five point five percent.”


Dot(internet/visual context) This is an obvious case because you most likely have heard this when someone provided an email address. For instance, “my email is johndoe-at(@)-server-dot-com”. Also, when someone discusses a painting and sees “colored dots”, or when a girl wears a “polka-dot” dress.    


Polka-dot print


It is safe to say that it is a very important punctuation sign, but it can easily be misused and overused. However, if you stick to the most common uses, you will avoid comma splices.

  • Use commas to separate items in a series. Also, do not forget to include an “Oxford comma” before “and” and the last item in the series. This will prevent you from incurring in ambiguity. For example, it is not the same to say: “I like pizza, burgers, and mac and cheese”, than to say: “I like pizza, burgers and mac and cheese”. The first sentence separates “burgers” from “mac and cheese” whereas the second one just slaps them together.
  • When you want to write two complete and related ideas(independent clauses) together, use a comma before coordinate conjunctions(“for”, “and”, “nor”, “but”, “or”, “yet”, and “so”). Some simple example sentences could be: 
  1. I like pizza a lot, but I do not like lasagna.
  2. Maria plays tennis, and she likes English.
  •  In this use case, we use a comma to separate an independent clause from a dependent clause. You can recognize a dependent clause easily because it cannot communicate a complete idea by itself, and it starts with words such as: if, unless, although, though, when, while, because, due to, etc. It is important to note that we will use the comma only if the first sentence is the dependent clause; otherwise, the comma is not necessary. Let’s look at some examples:
  1.   If Maria plays tennis today, she will not play volleyball.
  2.  Although the weather was great, we did not go to the beach.
  •  Whenever you want to offer some extra information about the subject of the sentence, you can use a comma before and after the noun’s description(adjective clause). For instance:
  1. The New York Times, one of the biggest news publications in the USA, makes mistakes in their stories from time to time.

That is all for now! Focus on mastering these punctuation signs. Remember to practice these rules by writing your own sentences and paragraphs, and you will find yourself using them effortlessly and accurately.


3 Comments Add yours

  1. Jason D says:

    Very clear explanations and examples. English is my first language and I still learned something!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Jason D says:

    Very clear explanations and examples. English is my first language and I still learned something!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow! I really Appreciate your comment. Thank you!


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