Punctuation marks in English
The most common punctuation marks in English are periods, question marks, commas, colons, semicolons, exclamation points, and quotation marks. And just like in Spanish, punctuation plays an important role in both writing and speaking. Orally, it allows you to catch your breath and when writing, it makes reading easier.
ÍNDICE DE CONTENIDOS
In this article, we highlight the punctuation rules that must be respected in English so as not to incur strange interpretations or misunderstandings.
Punctuation: capital letters and periods
As in Spanish, in English capital letters are used to indicate the beginning of a sentence and periods to also indicate the end of a sentence. In addition, in English capital letters are used for the following proper names:
- People’s names (including titles).
- Nationalities and languages.
- The days of the week and the months of the year.
- The holidays.
- Geographic areas.
- Dr. David James is the consultant at Leeds City Hospital.
El Dr. David James es consultor del Leeds City Hospital.
- What plans do you have for the Chinese New Year?
¿Qué planes tiene para el Año Nuevo chino?
In addition to being placed at the end of sentences, periods are also used to write a person’s initials:
Example: GW Dwyer or David A. Johnston
Finally, they are used after abbreviations like etc. (etc.), Dr. (doctor), or Prof. (teacher).
Attention: the translation of “point” in English is “ period ” in the United States, but “ full stop ” is “ full stop ” in the United Kingdom.
Punctuation: question marks and exclamation marks
Here, the rule is the same as in Spanish. In English, we use question marks to indicate that a question is being asked.
- How many times have you boiled that food?
¿Cuántas veces has hervido esa comida?
We use exclamation marks when we want to indicate surprise, amazement, amazement, joy, regret, or any other sign of expression. Sometimes, in informal writing, the English use more than one exclamation point.
Hurry !!! We’ll miss the bus !!!
¡De prisa, vamos a perder el autobús!
Punctuation: The comma
Commas are used to separate a list of words or phrases:
They were more friendly, more talkative, and more open than the last time we met them.
(Fueron más amables, más conversadores, más abiertos que la última vez que los vimos).
Commas in English are also used after certain logical connectors and adverbs come still, moreover, therefore (as yet, in addition, therefore) when they appear at the beginning of a sentence.
Moreover, people write stupid things on the Internet.
Además, la gente escribe cosas estúpidas en Internet.
In addition, other adverbs (too, instead, then, so…) (también, en cambio, entonces, entonces…) can be preceded or followed by a comma. However, this is not mandatory.
I want to go, too!
¡Yo también quiero ir!
Warning: you will notice that the space that is not separated before double punctuation marks or end-of-sentence marks does not exist in English.
Punctuation: The colon
Colons in English have relatively the same uses as in Spanish. They allow you to start an enumeration, quote a description, a definition or an explanation.
We need a teacher who is: patient, interesting, and enthusiastic.
Necesitamos un profesor que sea: paciente, interesante y entusiasta.
The semicolon can replace link words like meta, and, or or. Thus, it allows to link several sentence fragments between them.
I went to the cinema; I was told the movie was bad.
Fui al cine. Me dijeron que la película era mala.
The long dash is called “dash” and the short dash is called “hyphen” in English. It can be long or short. Whatever its size, its main function is to isolate a part of a sentence.
You think it’s easy – it’s not.
Cree que es fácil, no lo es.
The long dash has other functions. First, mark a break in a sentence; then it can be used to indicate who the author of a quote is.
Three can keep a secret if two of them are dead. – Benjamin Franklin
Tres pueden guardar un secreto, si dos de ellos están muertos. – Benjamin Franklin
Warning : If you use long hyphens to isolate a part of a sentence, you must not put a space, neither before nor after. On the other hand, you will have to put a space before and after if you opt for short dashes . Learn more about English scripts.
As in many languages, citations are used primarily to enter an appointment.
I won’t be home until late ”he said.
“No estaré en casa hasta tarde”, dijo
They also mark distance or irony.
On the internet we can read that it is the “best restaurant in town” but I was very disappointed.
En Internet podemos leer que es el “mejor restaurante de la ciudad”, pero me decepcionó mucho.
In English, the date is usually indicated in the following order: day, month, year. We use points to express dates. Slashes or hyphens are also frequently used.
Date of birth: 1.8.1985.
Fecha de nacimiento: 1.8.1985.