Exercises (See how you do.):

  1. Comma 1
  2. Capitalization and Punctuation Exercise 1
  3. Capitalization and Punctuation Exercise 2

Capitalization Rules

Capitalize the first word of every sentence.

  • The class will end at 3 pm.

Capitalize the names of people, including titles.

  • Mr. Brown is my English professor.

Always capitalize the pronoun I.

  • Masood and I are meeting after class.

Capitalize family words if they are used with a name, but do not capitalize family words used without a name.

  • I spoke with Uncle Scott last night.My uncle is a scientist.

Capitalize the names of the days of the week, months of the year, and holidays, but do not capitalize the names of seasons.

  • We will have an exam on Wednesday, October 25.
  • Eid Al Fitr is an important time for Muslims.
  • In Montreal, fall is a really nice time of year.

Capitalize names of languages, nationalities, races, and religions.

  • I speak Korean quite well.
  • There are a lot of Iranians studying English.
  • I don’t care if my classmates are African, Caucasian, Asian, or any other race. We are all equal.

Capitalize the names of countries, states, provinces, counties, cities, and towns.

  • Canada      British Columbia     Vancouver

Capitalize the specific names of oceans, lakes, rivers, islands, mountains, deserts, beaches, etc.

  • the Red Sea     Lake Superior     the Han River     the Hawaiian Islands
  • the Rocky Mountains     the Sahara Desert     Jumeirah Beach

Capitalize geographic words that refer to specific areas, but do not capitalize geographic words if they do not refer to specific geographic areas.

  • the Middle East     South Asia     the Northeast     the southern part of my country     north of the university

Capitalize specific names of companies, but do not capitalize words that tell about general types of companies.

  • My father works for the Bank of Canada.
  • I went to the bank to get some money.

Capitalize specific names of courses, but do not capitalize the names of subjects of study.

  • I love mathematics.
  • Next semester, I will take Calculus 101 with Prof. Jones.

Punctuation At the End of a Sentence

It is possible to end a sentence with one of three punctuation marks

  • period ( . )
  • question mark ( ? )
  • exclamation mark ( ! )

The period ( . ) marks the end of a complete sentence.

  • A good education will help you in the future.
  • You should try to eat a complete breakfast every day.

If the sentence is a question, it must end with a question mark ( ? ).

Questions can begin with a question word:

  • Who told you to leave?
  • What are you going to do with that money?
  • Where did you go on vacation?
  • When is your next exam?
  • Why did you steal that book?
  • How do you get to the McGrudy’s Bookstore from here?

Questions can also use question word order:

  • Did you finish your homework?
  • Are you going to the library?

HOWEVER, not all sentences with who, what, where, when, why, or how are questions. These words also often found in noun clauses. The sentences below end with a period.

  • I don’t know (something).
  • I don’t know what you want.
  • She didn’t understand where the professor wanted her to sit.
  • Mr. Brown told us when the exam would take place.
  • We didn’t think about how we would get there.

An exclamation mark ( ! ) is used for emphasis. It shows excitement or surprise. It is not a good idea to use exclamation marks in formal/academic writing.

  • Hey! What are you doing?
  • Stop! Look out!

Commas – Use commas to show a brief pause between ideas inside a sentence.

Use a comma after introductory phrases.

  • First, we took the bus to Richmond.
  • Most important, you should be honest with your friends.

Use commas to list three or more things with and or or.

  • We have quite a few classes, including English 2, Chemistry 101, and Psychology 205.
  • Masood sent dinner invitations to Sami, Khalid, and Maryam.

Use a comma before a coordinating conjunction joining main clauses in a compound sentence.

  • I finished my English homework, and I started studying for my Chemistry exam.
  • My sister asked my mother a question, but she wasn’t listening.

Use a comma when a subordinate clause starts a sentence.

  • Because we had studied all night, we did well on the exam.
  • After my father finished playing golf, he went out for dinner with his golf partners.

Use commas to separate a phrase (an appositive) that describes a person or thing.

  • Min Soo, a very strong man, helped carry the refrigerator.
  • My girlfriend, a freshman at college, is beautiful.

Use a comma with dates and years, geographic locations, and numbers.

  • Zayed University is in Dubai, UAE.
  • The next semester begins on February 27, 2008.
  • My new car cost Dh50,000.

Use a comma with transitions.

  • Teachers like their students to have many skills, for example, organization and good handwriting.
  • However, many students do not have these skills.

Use a comma with reporting verbs and quotations.

  • The teacher asked, “Do you have any questions?”
  • My father said, “You should be home by midnight.”