Quick Punctuation Rules (artykuł) | Khan Academy (2023)

Here are a few quick rules that can help when you’re working on questions about punctuation on the SAT Writing and Language Test.

The Semicolon ( ; )

On the SAT, the most common use of the semicolon ( ; ) is to connect two closely-related independent clauses.

The rarer use of the semicolon on the SAT is to separate items in a series. This only happens if the list is complex and the items in it have their own punctuation (such as commas).

What is an independent clause?

An independent clause is a string of words that expresses a complete thought and could stand alone as a well-formed sentence. It must have a subject and a verb.


  • Teddy loves stuffed bears.
  • His collection includes fifty-four specimens.

  • Alex cooks his brownies with lard.

  • They taste great.

Using semicolons to separate independent clauses

In the above examples, a semicolon may be placed between the two related independent clauses in each pair:

  • Teddy loves stuffed bears; his collection includes fifty-four specimens.

    (Video) Meet the Comma | Punctuation | Grammar | Khan Academy

  • Alex cooks his brownies with lard; they taste great!

Note in these examples how the second clause adds directly to what’s discussed in the first clause:

  • In the first example, the second clause adds a factual detail that helps demonstrate Teddy’s love for stuffed bears.
  • In the second example, the second clauseshares the writer’s impression of the results of Alex’s cooking.

The “Before and After Test” for semicolons

On the SAT, a semicolon may be used to join two closely-related independent clauses. If both the first and the second parts of a sentence could stand alone as their own sentences—and thesecond part adds to the first part—then a semicolon can be acceptable.

1) Check the part before the semicolon – could it be a solo sentence?

2) Check the part after the semicolon – could it be a solo sentence?

3) If the answers to 1 and 2 are YES, and the two parts are closely related, then the semicolon is good to go.

Top tip: A semicolon can’t be used to join an independent and a dependent clause. (Adependent clause is one that contains a subject and a verb but that doesn’t express a completethought and couldn’t stand alone as a well-formed sentence (e.g., because Teddy loves stuffed bears).


WARNING: When you try to connect two independent clauses using just a comma, you create an error known as a comma splice.

WRONG: Teddy loves stuffed bears, his collection includes fifty-four specimens.

WRONG: Alex cooks his brownies with lard, they taste great!


Option 1: Change the comma into a period ( . ) Two independent clauses can always stand alone as separate sentences (even if this isn’t always the best choice rhetorically). Remember to adjust capitalization as needed!

Option 2: Add a conjunction. A coordinating or subordinating conjunction can often be used to correct a comma splice: When a conjunction is present – such as, and, or, because, while or but – one of the two clauses is converted to a “dependent” or “subordinate” clause. (Don’t worry, you don’t need to know these terms on the SAT, but you do need to know your options for correcting a comma splice).

(Video) Dashes | Punctuation | Khan Academy

RIGHT: Teddy loves stuffed bears, and his collection includes fifty-four specimens.

RIGHT: Because Alex cooks his brownies with lard, they taste great.

Option 3: Use a semicolon in place of the comma. If the independent clauses are closely related, they can sometimes be joined with a semicolon.

RIGHT: Teddy loves stuffed bears; his collection includes fifty-four specimens.

RIGHT: Alex cooks his brownies with lard; they taste great.

The Colon ( : )

A colon ( : ) is sometimes used after a statement that introduces a list, a self-contained quotation, an explanation or an example.


RIGHT: The English language abounds with irregular verbs: drink, drank, drunk; break, broke, broken; swim, swam, swum; shrink, shrank, shrunken; fall, fell, fallen; blow, blew, blown.

RIGHT: The conscious brain controls only some of the body’s functions: while we can exert some control over our breathing rate, we have less control over our heart rate, and, except via lifestyle choices such as diet and exercise, we cannot consciously influence the processes of our digestive or immune systems at all.

RIGHT: Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address began with the following preamble: “Four score and seven years ago.”

However, a colon shouldn’t be used when the quotation is embedded in the sentence:

WRONG: Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address begins with: “Four score and seven years ago.”

TOP TIP: What comes before the colon must be (or contain) an independent clause: it must represent a complete thought and be able to function as a well-formed, standalonesentence.

(Video) Commas and introductory elements | Punctuation | Grammar | Khan Academy

WRONG: Snape advised them to: stay up all night, practice spells, and eat bonbons. (“Snape advised them to” is not a full sentence)

RIGHT: Snape advised them to stay up all night, practice spells, and eat bonbons.

RIGHT: Snape gave them the best advice he could muster: stay up all night, practice spells, and eat bonbons.

The Dash ( – )

One dash ( – ) = Colon ( : )

Just like the rule for colons, what comes before the single dash ( – ) must be an independent clause: it must be able to read as a complete sentence all on its own. (See what we did there? We could have used a long dash instead of that colon)

NOTE: The dash ( – ) is not to be confused with the hyphen ( - ), which has its own rules that are not tested on the SAT.


  • You were right—he did eat the whole thing.

  • Learning to ride a unicycle is easy—if you don’t mind a few bumps and bruises.

Two dashes ( – – ) = open/close parentheses ( )

Like a pair of commas or parentheses, a pair of dashes can be used to set off a phrase, clause, or series of phrases and clauses. In order for two dashes to be correct, the sentence that surrounds the clause that is being set off—be it a descriptive flourish or a prepositional aside—must be grammatically complete.

TOP TIP: When in doubt, take it out! Think of the two dashes, two commas or two parentheses as chopping tools that can slice out nonessential elements. Remove the element in question, and read the sentence again—if the sentence reads through without the element, then the double punctuation was OK!


  • Sitting at dinner that night, Finn— usually a talkative chaprefused to answer a single question about his day.

    (Video) Ellipses | Punctuation | Khan Academy

  • Learning to ride a unicycle– a time-consuming endeavoris easy if you don’t mind a few bumps and bruises.

TOP TIP: Pair them up Look out for pairs of mismatched punctuation, whether they be comma-dash, parenthesis-comma, or some other combination of comma, dash, and parenthesis. The punctuation should match.

WRONG: Learning to ride a unicycle, a time-consuming endeavor—is easy if you don’t mind a few bumps and bruises.

WRONG: Learning to ride a unicycle—a time-consuming endeavor, is easy if you don’t mind a few bumps and bruises.

TOP TIP: Less is often more! If the SAT gives you a choice between commas on both sides of a clause and commas on neither side of a clause, the chances are very good that the NO COMMA choice is correct.

TOP COMMA TIP: Exaggerate the pause If you’re wondering if a comma is correct, read the sentence through and emphasize the pause the comma creates – if it sounds really weird to your ear, it’s probably wrong.

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What are the rules of using punctuation? ›

Here are a few basic punctuation rules:
  • All Punctuations Must be Parallel. This means that when a main clause is interrupted with a comma or a dash, it must be interrupted with same punctuation marks at the beginning and at the end. ...
  • A Colon Must Appear at the End of a Clause. ...
  • Semicolons are Used for Equal Emphasis.
Sep 24, 2020

What are the 13 ways to punctuate? ›

They are: the period, question mark, exclamation point, comma, colon, semicolon, dash, hyphen, brackets, braces, parentheses, apostrophe, quotation mark, and ellipsis.

How many punctuation questions are on the SAT? ›

Excluding apostrophe questions, there are about 4-6 punctuation questions on the SAT. Most of the punctuation rules are fairly straightforward; if you spend the time to learn and understand these rules, you should be able to correctly answer the punctuation questions on SAT Writing.

What are the 14 common punctuation marks? ›

There are 14 punctuation mark names that are commonly used in English grammar that children tto learn and understand in primary education. They are the period, questionmark, exclamation point, comma, semicolon, colon, dash, hyphen, parentheses, brackets, braces, apostrophe, quotation marks, and ellipsis.

What is punctuation for beginners? ›

Punctuation is the name for the marks we use in writing. Punctuation marks are tools that have set functions. We use them to structure and organise our words, and to give sentences meaning and rhythm. Punctuation marks help readers to understand what the writer is trying to say.

What are 4 common punctuation marks? ›

The standard English punctuation is as follows: period, comma, apostrophe, quotation, question, exclamation, brackets, braces, parenthesis, dash, hyphen, ellipsis, colon, semicolon.

How can I improve my punctuation skills? ›

One of the easiest, most effective, and most enjoyable ways to improve your use of grammar and punctuation is to read. Every time you read, pay attention to grammar conventions.

What are the three main types of ending punctuation? ›

There are three types of end punctuation: periods, question marks, and exclamation points. Periods end complete sentences. Complete sentences are sentences that make simple statements and include a subject and a verb. Examples: Mark bought flowers for his girlfriend.

What are the three punctuation styles? ›

The three letter formats that are usually used are the block, the modified block and the simplified block.

Is a colon a half stop? ›

Semicolon vs Colon Symbols

Both a colon and semicolon show a pause in a sentence. However, they do this in different ways. A colon is used to introduce information like a quotation or list. A semicolon is used to separate two related independent clauses.

Is a 1600 SAT every question correct? ›

So your score for Evidence Based Reading and Writing section is 700. If you wish to get a perfect score of 1600 you cannot miss any question or mark it wrongly. Very occasionally SAT allows one wrong answer. The student needs to strive for perfection if he or she is aiming for perfect score of 1600.

What is an M dash in Writing? ›

An em dash is a punctuation mark that can be used to replace commas, parentheses, colons, and semicolons. In general, the em dash is seen as being more interruptive or striking than other punctuation, so it is often used stylistically to draw a reader's attention to a particular bit of information.

What is the most important punctuation? ›

You can write sentences and get your point across without anything but a period. It's the most important punctuation mark.

What is dot dot dot called? ›

It's time to stop calling them 'dot dot dot' . . . You see those dots? All three together constitute an ellipsis. The plural form of the word is ellipses, as in "a writer who uses a lot of ellipses." They also go by the following names: ellipsis points, points of ellipsis, suspension points.

What is the oldest punctuation mark? ›

The oldest known document using punctuation is the Mesha Stele (9th century BC). This employs points between the words and horizontal strokes between the sense section as punctuation.

What are 2 basic grammar rules? ›

What are the basic rules of grammar? Some basic rules of grammar include ensuring all sentences have a subject and a verb; placing adjectives directly before the noun they describe, or after it if separated by a verb; and using a comma to connect two ideas.

What are 123 rules in English grammar? ›

We should use the personal pronouns in the order of 231 for good results ( I mean, Second Person, Third Person, First Person). The order 123 (First Person, Second Person and Third Person) is also possible when we admit guilt. 2. A Pronoun in the nominative form should be compared with the same form of the pronoun.

What are the 4 types of grammar? ›

Kinds of grammar.
  • prescriptive.
  • descriptive.
  • transformational-generative.

Does a comma go before or after but? ›

While a comma is needed before “but” when it's being used to connect two independent clauses, no comma is needed before “but” if it's connecting an independent clause and a sentence fragment. A sentence fragment is a clause that's missing either a verb or a subject, or one that does not form a complete thought.

Do you put a comma before and? ›

In English, you must put a comma before “and” when it connects two independent clauses. A clause is independent when it could stand on its own as a sentence—it has its own subject and verb. Example: Comma before “and” connecting two independent clauses Jagmeet walks to school, and Rebecca takes the bus.

What is the easiest punctuation? ›

The infographic ranks each punctuation mark according to how many applications it has, and therefore, how difficult it is to learn. While the comma is the most difficult with 15 applications, the period is the easiest—its only job is to end a sentence (except when it ends an abbreviation: Mr., Mrs., Dr., etc.).

What is 3 dots called? ›

An ellipsis ( ... ) consists of three evenly spaced periods and is used to indicate the omission of words or suggest an incomplete thought.

What is uncommon punctuation? ›


It's also known as a triple asterisk. People have used asterisms to mark part of a text, or to indicate minor breaks (e.g. scene changes within a chapter in a novel). But this punctuation mark is rare these days, with a line of three or more asterisks more common.

What does dash mean in a sentence? ›

Dashes and parentheses indicate an “aside” to the point you are making in your sentence. Although sometimes considered interchangeable, each serves a specific purpose in your writing. Dashes interrupt your writing to insert an interjection or pause, while parentheses gently add information to your point.

How do you master punctuation marks? ›

Top ten punctuation tips
  1. Use apostrophes correctly. ...
  2. Know where to place quotation marks. ...
  3. Know how to punctuate with parentheses. ...
  4. Use a hyphen for compound adjectives. ...
  5. Distinguish between the colon and the semicolon. ...
  6. Avoid multiple punctuation at the end of a sentence.

Why do I struggle with grammar? ›

So why do so many people struggle with grammar? The answer is simple: experience. Students who struggle with grammar often don't have enough experience reading and writing. After all, grammar is a system of rules that governs a language.

How do you avoid punctuation errors? ›

Watch out for these errors in your cover letters, academic essays, professional emails, and more.
  1. Don't confuse "it's" and "its." ...
  2. Don't use an apostrophe to pluralize nouns. ...
  3. Don't write run-on sentences. ...
  4. Don't overuse commas. ...
  5. Don't use dashes and hyphens interchangeably. ...
  6. Don't use semicolons and commas interchangeably.
Aug 22, 2018

How should you end a sentence? ›

You have three options for punctuating the end of a sentence: a period, an exclamation mark, or a question mark. Each one sets a different tone for the whole sentence: that of a statement, an outcry, or a question, respectively.

What are the two styles of punctuation? ›

The two broad styles of punctuation in English are often called British (typically used in the UK, Ireland, and most of the Commonwealth of Nations) and American (also common in Canada and places with a strong American influence on local English, as in the Philippines).

What do you call a sentence that asks a question? ›

An interrogative sentence is a sentence that asks a question.

What punctuation is used before a list? ›

A colon is used to give emphasis, present dialogue, introduce lists or text, and clarify composition titles.

What is standard punctuation style example? ›

standard punctuation are stuffs like comma, semicolon, and colon. you use closed punctuation with abbreviations, introductory greetings, or a letter closing. an example would be: when you write “Dear Mr. Bob,” or sign a letter “Sincerely,” you'd use a comma after both phrases, different than open punctuation.

Do you use a colon or semicolon before a list? ›

Semicolons and colons look similar, but they have different functions. Another common mistake is using a semicolon where a colon should go. Semicolons separate items within a list, while a colon precedes and introduces a list.

What are two dots called? ›

The colon, :, is a punctuation mark consisting of two equally sized dots aligned vertically. A colon often precedes an explanation, a list, or a quoted sentence.

When should you not use a colon? ›

DO NOT use a colon if the complete statement is followed by a transitional word or phrase such as “namely”, “for example”, “for instance”, or “however”. In this case, use a semicolon (;) before the transitional word and a comma (,) after it.

What does a dot above a comma mean? ›

The semicolon is the colon's quirkier sibling. While the colon is simply two dots stacked : the semicolon is a dot hovering over a comma ; The semicolon does jobs that are also done by other punctuation marks, but puts its own spin on the task. Like a comma, it can separate elements in a series.

What was Mark Zuckerberg's SAT score? ›

How did your favorite celebrity do on the SAT?
CelebrityProfession/FieldSAT Score
Ben Affleckactor“nearly perfect”
Bill Gatestech entrepreneur1590
Will Smithactor1600
Mark ZuckerbergFacebook founder1600
8 more rows
Jan 10, 2020

What did Elon Musk score on SAT? ›

Elon Musk reacts to GPT-4 scoring 93% on SAT exams.

What SAT score is required for Harvard? ›

Harvard University's SAT scores for admitted students range from 1480 - 1580, with an average score of 1530. Although SAT scores are optional, we recommend that students aim for a good SAT score of at least 1530 to be competitive in the admissions process at Harvard University.

What is the longest hyphen? ›

An em dash (—), the longest “dash,” is used as a substitute for a comma, colon, semi-colon, or parentheses and emphasizes information.

What is the big dash symbol? ›

The dash (—), also called the em dash, is the long horizontal bar, much longer than a hyphen. Few keyboards have a dash, but a word processor can usually produce one in one way or another.

What is a long dash called? ›

So is the em dash (—), more often called the long dash, or sometimes just the dash.

What is rule 5 of comma rules? ›

COMMA RULE #5 – THE COMMA WITH NONESSENTIAL WORDS, PHRASES, AND CLAUSES: Separate with a comma any nonessential words or groups of words from the rest of the sentence. 1. Separate “interrupter” words like however, nevertheless, yes, no, of course, from the rest of the sentence.

What is comma rule 5 example? ›

5. Use a comma before a quotation when an introductory phrase with a word like say or reply precedes the quotation. Wilbur says, “It's not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer” (White 184).

What are the 4 common types of sentences what punctuation rules does each follow? ›

  • Declarative sentences make a statement. They tell us something. ...
  • Interrogative sentences ask a question. They ask us something. ...
  • Imperative sentences give a command. ...
  • Exclamative sentences express strong emotion/surprise—an exclamation—and they always end with an exclamation mark/point (!).

What is the comma rule 7? ›

7. USE COMMAS TO SET OFF DIRECT QUOTATIONS. Rule: A dialogue is a conversation between two or more people. If the speaker (not the listener) in the conversation is identified, his name, (or the noun or pronoun used to refer to the speaker), and the verb that refers to his speaking are enclosed within commas.

What is an example of comma rule 4? ›

4. Compound Sentences Use a comma to separate the independent clauses in a compound sentence: Example: The snow started to fall heavily, so all the schools and universities closed early. The comma is optional if both independent clauses are short and the meaning is clear.

What is the 21 rule of comma? ›

Rule 21. Use either a comma or a semicolon before introductory words such as namely, that is, i.e., for example, e.g., or for instance when they are followed by a series of items. Use a comma after the introductory word. Examples: You may be required to bring many items, e.g., sleeping bags, pans, and warm clothing.

What is an example of comma rule 3? ›

Rule 3b. In sentences where two independent clauses are joined by connectors such as and, or, but, etc., put a comma at the end of the first clause. Incorrect: He walked all the way home and he shut the door. Correct: He walked all the way home, and he shut the door.

What is the comma rule 2? ›

2. Use a comma after an introductory clause or phrase. Rule: Use a comma after an introductory clause or phrase. A comma tells readers that the introductory clause or phrase has come to a close and that the main part of the sentence is about to begin.

What is an example of comma rule 8? ›

A: Use a comma to separate two sentences joined by for, and, nor, but, or, yet, and so. (To remember this easily, memorize the mnemonic device, “fanboys.”) Example: I wanted to come to the party, but I had to work late.

What is the basic sentence pattern? ›

So, remember, this is the basic pattern of an English sentence: SUBJECT + VERB + OBJECT.

What are the rules for simple sentences? ›

Simple sentences are sentences containing one independent clause, with a subject and a predicate. Modifiers, compound subjects, and compound verbs/predicates can be used in simple sentences. The standard arrangement of a simple sentence is subject + verb + object, or SVO order.

What are 3 dots called? ›

An ellipsis ( ... ) consists of three evenly spaced periods and is used to indicate the omission of words or suggest an incomplete thought.

What is the most important punctuation mark? ›

The Full Stop [.]

a. This is the strongest punctuation mark, making the most definite pause (in reading aloud or silently) when used at the end of a sentence. As shown in the previous examples, it is used at the end of sentences unless they are questions, strong exclamations or strong commands.

What is a common sentence punctuation pattern? ›

Common Sentence Patterns with Appropriate Punctuation

Simple Sentence = Subject + Verb w/ possible additional information w/in the sentence. Pattern 2: Compound Sentence Using Connectors I scheduled an appointment at the writing center, and I can't wait until my session.


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