Punctuation Marks with Symbols, Explanations, and Examples

(this page includes a presentation of the punctuation marks or symbols that are in general use in English writing)

apostrophe (s) (noun), apostrophes (pl)
Symbolized as or ', the text character that marks the possessive form of a noun; for example, John’s book, or a place where one or more letters have been removed from a word or phrase; such as, isn’t or don't.
asterisk (s) (noun), asterisks (pl)
Shown as *, used in manuscripts to mark passages or a hand printed, star-shaped figure, used primarily to indicate an omission, a reference to a footnote, a sound, or an affix (prefix, suffix).
bracket (s) (noun), brackets (pl)
One of a pair of symbols or together, [ ], they are used in writing or mathematics for showing that the piece of information or set of numbers between them can be considered separately.
caret (s) (noun), carets (pl)
A special mark, ^, that is used to indicate that something should be inserted; usually, when correcting texts to show where punctuation is missing ^.
colon (s) (noun), colons (pl)
A punctuation mark :, which is used after a word introducing a quotation, an explanation, an example, or a series; and that is often presented after the salutation in a business letter; such as,
Dear Mr. Jones:
comma (s) (noun), commas (pl)
A common mark , that is presented as an indication of a separation of ideas or of elements within the structure of a sentence; including, a pause between parts of a sentence or between elements in a list.
dash (s) (noun), dashes (pl)
A grammatical dash , shown between parts of a compound word or between the syllables of a word when the word is divided at the end of a line of text.

Some people refer to the - as a hyphen or a minus sign.

ellipsis (s) (noun), ellipses (pl)
A mark, or a series of marks, . . . or , that are used in writing or printing to indicate an omission or an absence of letters or words.
exclamation mark (s) (noun), exclamation marks (pl)
A symbol, !, indicating excitement, surprise, or shock.
hyphen (s) (noun), hyphens (pl)
A mark, -, that is used between the parts of a compound word, a name, or between the syllables of a word; especially, when it is divided at the end of a line of text.
parenthesis (s) (noun), parentheses (pl)
Either of a pair of brackets ( ); especially, round brackets, and (used to enclose parenthetical material in a text).
period (s) (noun), periods (pl)
A punctuation, ., which is placed at the end of a declarative sentence to indicate a full stop or after abbreviations.
question mark (s) (noun), question marks (pl)
This ? is used at the end of a sentence to indicate a question.
quotation mark (s) (noun), quotation marks (pl)
This symbol " consists of either of a pair of punctuation marks used to mark the beginning and the end of a passage by another person and repeated word for word, and it also indicates meanings and the unusual or doubtful status of a word.

They appear in the form of double quotation marks (" ") and single quotation marks (' '). The single quotation marks usually indicate a quotation within a normal quotation.

semicolon (s) (noun) , semicolons (pl)
This punctuation mark ; connects independent clauses and indicates a closer relationship between clauses than a period does and is followed by an initial lower-case letter unless there is a proper noun existing after the semicolon.

For a list of the available marks of punctuation and additional information about them, go to the Index of Punctuation Marks unit .