Driffield Junior School

  1. Learning
  2. English
  3. Punctuation

Punctuation

Punctuation is very important. It helps us to understand what we read by separating sentences, phrases and clauses to clarify meaning. It can also show us what type of sentence we have read. During their time at our school, children will learn a wide range of punctuation. By year 6, children should be using punctuation confidently, accurately and within a range of writing. Children will continually revisit and learn new punctuation within and across year groups.

Full stop:

This is one of the first and most important piece of punctuation that children learn. Full stops are used to indicate the end of a sentence, that the point has been made and that the writer is then going to move on to another new sentence.

I cannot wait to play football at break time.

The children lined up for assembly.

Please hand the scissors out.

Capital Letter:

Capital letters are also one of the first pieces of punctuation taught. Capital letters go hand in hand with full stops as each new sentence should always begin with a capital letter:

Jessie picked up the shopping list. She made sure she had gathered enough shopping bags.

Capital letters should also be used to indicate proper nouns (check the 'Word Class' section to recap these if you've forgotten).

Driffield Junior School, Mrs Laird and Tesco are all proper nouns that have to be written with a capital letter.

Commas:

Commas are a tricky piece of punctuation because they can be used in a variety of ways. Commas do not show a pause. Below are the different ways commas can be used correctly.

Commas for lists:

When we are listing items, we use a comma to break up the items in the list. Before the last and second to last item, we use a conjunction ('and' or 'or' usually) to show that this is the last item in the list.

Make sure you have your sleeping bag, pyjamas, tent and a teddy bear.

Commas for fronted adverbials:

When we use adverbs and adverbials at the beginning of a sentence, we call them fronted adverbials (because they are at the front of the sentence). However, we use a comma to separate the fronted adverbial from the main clause because it is extra to the sentence. Without the fronted adverbial, the sentence will still make sense on its own.

Before break time, all the children handed in their books.

Yesterday, the weather was beautiful so we had a BBQ.

Quietly, I tip-toed along the corridor.

Commas in clauses:

We know that subordinate clauses have to be paired with a main clause to make sense. But, when we put the subordinate clause at the beginning, we separate it from the main clause using a comma. We do not need a comma if the main clause is first.

If you finish within the time, help yourself to a challenge.

When the time is up, you must put down your pencil.

Commas for parenthesis:

Parenthesis is where we add extra information to a sentence. A relative clause is a type of parenthesis. Because parenthesis is extra to the sentence, the sentence will still make sense without it - this a good way we can check we have punctuated it correctly. Look how the commas separate the extra information from the main clause below:

Jenna ,a nine-year old pupil, jumped for joy as she raced past the finish line.

Using public transport, such as buses and trains, can reduce traffic.

Parenthesis can also be punctuated with dashes and brackets. Learn more about this below.

Question marks:

This punctuation is used to indicated that a sentence is a question.

Are you hungry?

Did you have a nice time?

That book was really interesting to read, wasn't it?

Exclamation marks:

Exclamation marks show that a sentence is an exclamation (remember that exclamations only begin with 'what' or 'how').

How lovely of you to attend!

What a glorious day!

Sometimes in books, authors use exclamation marks to show that someone is shouting or is very angry:

ARGHHHH!

Hurry up!

Dashes and brackets:

As mentioned above, dashes and brackets are used to indicated parentheses (extra information). They are used within a main clause to show that whatever is in the dashes, commas or brackets is extra to the sentence and when this is removed, the sentence will still make sense without it.

Jamie (who had just started school) loved the outside area.

Driffield - the capital of the Yorkshire Wolds - is a market town.

We tend to use dashes in more informal pieces of writing (look at the 'Writing' section to learn more about formal and informal writing).

Colons:

Colons look like two full stops with one above the other and can be used in two ways. The first way they can be used is to introduce a list. However, before the colon, the sentence must be a main clause (make sense on its own) and the colon should never be placed after a verb.

Hannah had many fruit items on her shopping list: bananas, apples, pineapples and strawberries.

Here the colon has been used correctly because the part before the colon is a main clause and 'list' is not a verb here.

Hannah had many fruit items on her shopping list such as: bananas, apples, pineapples and strawberries. X

Here the colon is not used correctly because the part before the colon does not make sense on its own. 'Such as' is not needed.

Another way in which colons can be used is to separate 2 main clauses where the second clause explains the first. Both sentences should make sense on their own.

The boys lost their rugby match: they had not now shown good teamwork.

Henry was ecstatic with his results: he has revised nearly every night.

Semi colons:

A semi colon is a full stop on top of a comma. Like a colon, they can be used in two ways. The first way is to separate two main clauses that are linked in idea (they are both about the same thing).

The puppy was so excited; it had large brown ears.

Both of these sentences are linked in idea (about the puppy) so can be joined with a semi-colon. We do not use a capital letter for the second sentence because we have not used a full stop after the first main clause.

The second way we can use a semi colon is to separate items in a list when the items are more than one word. If the items were just one word, we would use a comma.

Children are required to bring a four-main tent; an individual sleeping bag for themselves; a change of clothes for the following day and a spare set of clothes.

This helps to add more information to the list instead of just using one word.

Hyphens:

Hyphens look like a dash but should be written as a smaller line. They are used to join words together that have a combined meaning.

well-known, man-eating, sugar-free and mother-in-law

They can also be used for double barrelled names:

Anne-Marie and Jonathon White-Smith

Hyphens can also be used when writing numbers:

ninety-nine, forty-five and thirty-six

Inverted commas:

This punctuation is used for speech only (they used be to called speech marks). We use inverted commas to show that some words are being spoke. There are many rules for using inverted commas accurately and we should use these to check our writing:

1) Inverted commas only placed around what is being said.

2) Speech always begins with a capital letter.

3) If someone different is talking, we must start a new line.

4) Punctuation is needed at the end of the speech but must be within the inverted commas.

See if you can check these rules on the speech below.

"I am so excited for the party," squealed Jennifer with excitement.

Sarah replied happily, "I know! I think it will be the best party of the year."