Three Punctuation Marks for the End of a Sentence

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Punctuation is essential to make writing easy to understand. When used correctly, it shows the reader when sentences start and finish and what part of the sentence contains the most important information. Punctuation that is used incorrectly or sloppily, however, can confuse meaning.

The addition of a comma in the following sentence, for example, makes a huge difference:

  • ‘Let’s eat grandma!’ he said.
  • Let’s eat, grandma!’ he said.

Click here to learn more about how to use commas (and avoid implying that you’re partial to cannibalism).

If you browse our archive, you’ll see that we’ve shared tips on how to use many of the more-complicated punctuation marks. Today, we’re going back to basics. Here are three ways to end a sentence:


This punctuation mark is called a full stop in British English and a period in American English. It’s the most common way to end a sentence and indicates to the reader that they should pause.

A full stop has four main uses:

  • to indicate the end of a sentence
    She walked the dog twice a day.

  • to indicate the end of a group of words that don’t form a full sentence but are used to add emphasis to the sentence before (usually found in informal or creative writing)
    The house was quiet. Too quiet.

  • to indicate that a word has been abbreviated (though not all abbreviations are marked like this)
    Christmas falls on Dec. 25th.
    The party begins at 7p.m.

    If an abbreviation with a full stop is the last word in a sentence, you don’t need to add another full stop to mark the end of your sentence.

  • to mark the different parts of websites and email addresses


This punctuation mark is called a question mark and is used to mark the end of a question.

For example:

  • Have you seen the latest episode?
  • What time is it?
  • How often do you practise your spelling?

If a question is reported, a question mark isn’t needed.

For example:

  • She asked if I’d seen the latest episode.
  • He asked what the time was.
  • The teacher wanted to know how long the students spent practising their spelling.


This punctuation mark is called an exclamation mark in British English and an exclamation point in American English. It has three main uses:

  • in an exclamation
    Watch out!

  • in direct speech to indicate that something has been said loudly
    ‘Quiet!’ the teacher shouted.

  • in a piece of writing to indicate that the writer finds something funny or unusual
    While she loved all vegetables, her favourite was brussels sprouts!

    Many writers, however, prefer not to use exclamation marks to emphasise points in this way, saving them only for moment where something is actually exclaimed.

As many people and business rely on written communication, exclamation marks are widely used in informal writing (like emails and text message) to help express tone. In formal writing, however, they should be used sparingly.

05 Nov 2018
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"I would like to thank you so much for this great website. I have always been ashamed of my spelling but after a few lessons I am already better. It is filling in all the gaps. Thanks."

Student, France