The Full Stop and Comma

Punctuation is the right use of stops in a sentence.

The following are the principal punctuation marks in English.

Full stop (.)
Comma (,)
Semicolon (;)
Colon (:)
Interrogation mark (?)
Exclamation mark (!)
Inverted commas or Quotation marks (”)

The full stop

The full stop represents the longest pause. It is used:

a) at the end of an assertive or imperative sentence.

  • She is a good girl.
  • It is snowing.
  • Put it down.
  • Come here.

b) after abbreviations and initials

  • M.A.
  • Ph.D
  • M.P.
  • Ltd.
  • Dr.
  • Mr.

Note that full stops are not normally used after abbreviations in modern British English. However, full stops are common in American English.


The comma represents the shortest pause in a sentence. It is used:

a) to separate three or more words of the same parts of speech.

  • I want to buy a pencil, a sharpener, an eraser and a notebook.
  • He is efficient, hardworking and honest.

b) to mark off phrases in apposition.

  • Alice, my brother’s daughter, is a doctor.

c) to separate words or phrases inserted into the body of a sentence.

  • They, too, have expressed their interest in the offer.
  • The police did not, however, succeed in arresting the culprit.

d) to separate a subordinate clause that comes before the main clause.


  • If it rains, we will cancel the trip.
  • We will cancel the trip if it rains.
  • When the bell rings, we will go to the class.
  • We will go to the class when the bell rings.