Knowing punctuation rules is not only necessary for your English exam, but you will need to use them for every other subject’s exam as well. Here are some basic punctuation rules that every student must know:
Rule 1: Periods
Use periods at the end of every sentence. Exclamation points (!) can replace periods if you are emphasizing excitement. Reading essays, letters, etc… from solved past papers of the English board exam will give you a clear idea of how to structure sentences and where to appropriately place periods.
Rule 2: Commas
Commas are used to break up long sentences. They are also used when listing items. (e.g. Adam bought apples, grapes, pears, and bananas at the shop). Make sure to include commas when writing long sentences in essays on your English board exam.
Rule 3: Capitalization of Nouns
Always capitalize nouns! This includes a person, place, or thing. Names should always be capitalized, no matter where it appears in the sentence (e.g. It is important for Ali to capitalize nouns in his sentences).
Rule 4: Apostrophes
Apostrophes are used to show possession. (e.g. “He was holding Sara’s books”, the apostrophe indicates that the books belong to Sara).
Rule 5: Contractions
Apostrophes are also used to represent omission a letter, to create contractions. For example, instead of writing “do not”, you can use an apostrophe to write “don’t”. On the English board exam, it is better to write the full word, but you can use contractions as long as the apostrophe is appropriately placed.
Rule 6: Plural
Do not use an apostrophe when turning a word into plural. For example, the plural of book should be written as “books”, not “book’s”. This is a common punctuation rule that students forget when writing their English board exams.
Rule 7: Parentheses
Parentheses, also known as brackets, can be used to show additional information that is not directly essential for the meaning of the sentence. (e.g. parentheses is used here to show that this is additional information, but not exactly needed to understand the meaning of the sentence.)
Rule 8: Quotation Marks
Use quotation marks when writing down an individual’s exact words. Quotation marks should also be used when stating a law (e.g. “Learning punctuation is easy,” Ali said). On your English board exam, use quotation marks when you are quoting a stanza, line from a story, etc… This use of quotation marks can also be seen in solved past papers.
Rule 9: Question Marks
Question marks (?) should only be used after direct questions. Do not use question marks after an indirect question (e.g. “can you please sit?” requires a question mark. “He asked me to sit,” is an indirect question so it does not require a question mark.
Rule 10: Colon
A colon (:) is used to introduce a list, quotation, or extra information. (e.g. “You are required to pack the following items: books, notebooks, pencils, and a ruler.” The colon appears before the list begins). In the solved past papers for the English board exam, you will see this punctuation rule used after each heading.
These are very common punctuation rules that are often overlooked by students, which leads to the loss of marks on not only the English board exam but on the board exams for other subjects as well. So be sure to practice using these punctuation rules to improve your English writing skills!