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Punctuation Grammar Rules: Grammar Review Study Guide

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Updated on Aug 25, 2011

Exercises for this concept can be found at Punctuation Grammar Rules: Grammar Review Practice Exercises.

Periods

Periods signify the end of a declarative sentence (a statement of fact) or an imperative sentence (a command or request is stated). For example:

      Declarative:   There is a test on the Westward Expansion on Tuesday.
      Imperative:   Study hard if you want to do well.

Periods also follow most abbreviations (Mr., Mrs., lb., oz., A.M., P.M., Mon., Tue., Jan. Feb., etc.), except for abbreviations that use all capital letters (NASA, CIA, FBI, YMCA, etc.) and abbreviations for states (DE, NJ, CA, KN, MO, etc.). Periods must also follow a person's initials (John F. Kennedy, T.S. Eliot, etc.).

Inside Track

When a sentence ends with an abbreviation that has a period, do NOT add another period at the end. Instead, leave the abbreviation's period as the endmark. If the sentence is an exclamatory sentence or question, you MUST place the exclamation mark or question mark at the end, after the abbreviation's period.

Correct: I was supposed to meet you at 4 P.M.!
  Was I supposed to meet you at 4 P.M.?
Incorrect: I will meet you at 4 P.M.

Question Marks—Go Ahead and Ask

Question marks are used after a question (an interrogatory sentence).

    This is a difficult rule, isn't it?

Don't get indirect questions mixed up with questions. Sometimes a sentence sounds like it has a question in it, but it's really just a statement reporting a question:

      I was wondering if Lucas, Sean, and I could get together to study tonight at my house.
      I asked whether I could get together with my friends to study.

The statements I was wondering and I asked are just that—statements. Hence, they end with periods.

Exclamation Marks—Turn Up the Volume

Exclamations signify strong feelings or emotion. When a sentence is exclamatory, use an exclamation mark to end it; this includes an imperative sentence, which gives an authoritative or earnest command.

Exclamatory Sentences: Hey! This is pretty simple! I can't believe it!
  Look at the size of that dog! I'm glad I don't feed it!
Imperative Sentences: Stop! I mean it!
  Be quiet now! This is important!
Fuel For Thought

Be careful not to overuse the exclamation mark in your writing. For emphasis, people tend to end their sentences with not only one, but sometimes two, three, or more. Yikes!!!!!!!

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