Punctuation marks-comma, colon apostrophe, semicolon, quotation marks


Commas are another very important type of punctuation. Commas tell the reader where to pause. Commas also separate phrases, ideas, and items in a list. Commas help avoid confusion.

Commas can be used in a number of ways, including to separate elements of a sentence, or to separate items in a list.

They’re used after a subordinate clause at the start of a sentence:

After the play, we went for dinner.

They’re also used to separate items in a list:

Peter found a pen, a paper, and a chair.

Commas can also be used within large numbers to make them easier to read:

I had N1,500 to spend on a holiday.

Note that commas aren’t used when giving a year in numerals: it’s 2019 not 2,019.


A colon can be used to introduce an example or series of items, or to join two independent clauses (where the second clause explains the first). It can also be used to introduce a quotation, though it isn’t always the best choice of punctuation mark for that.

For the school trip, please bring:

A water bottle

A hat

Some spending money

Tola: There was no point staying after Sally had gone.


The semicolon (sometimes written as semi-colon) is used to join together two independent clauses that could otherwise stand as independent sentences. Both these examples are grammatically correct:

My friends caught the bus without me. I was left standing around on my own.

My friends caught the bus without me; I was left standing around on my own.

Semicolons can also be used in place of commas in a list that has commas within the list items. For instance:

I plan to visit: Adeola, where I’ll see the Mr. Adejimi; Mrs Ogbaola, where I’ll see Jessy; and Mrs Bankole, where I’ll see Ogo.

Apostrophe (’)

An apostrophe indicates possession and the exclusion of letters in contractions.
Contractions merge two words together. e.g. I’ll/I will, won’t/will not etc


They’re going to Canada.

I’m not going.

Robert’s watch

Someone’s glasses

Quotation Marks (‘…’/“… … ..”)

Quotation marks are used for enclosing direct quotations of written or spoken words of others, or dialogue said by characters in fiction.

They are also called quote marks or just quotes for short. The first of the pair is the opening or open quote. It curves to the right: “ ‘. The second one is the closing or close quote. It curves to the left: ’ ”.


Have you seen the music video for the song “Halleluia”?

“Play with aggression” shouted the coach.

Your exact words were “get out of my room.”

Inbox me. What is the major difference between an approsphe and a quotation mark?

Practice Questions

  1. All of the people at the school, including the teachers and ___ were glad when summer break came.

a. students:
b. students,
c. students;
d. students

  1. Sit up straight _

a. ;
b. ?
c. .
d. :

  1. They asked what time the department store would open _

a. ?
b. .
c. ,
d. ;

  1. Who do you think will win the contest _

a. .
b. !
c. ?
d. ,