AMP | Kids is proud to announce an ongoing partnership with The Mini Page, now in its 50th year of providing engaging and fun learning opportunities to young readers across the country. This feature was originally syndicated in newspapers the week of September 20 – September 26, 2019. It is distributed digitally here with permission from Andrews McMeel Syndication. Enjoy and share with the young learners in your life!

Have you ever had trouble figuring out what somebody’s writing meant? Maybe that was because the writer didn’t use proper punctuation (PUNK-chuh-WAY-shun). Punctuation marks, such as commas and periods, help us understand written language. In honor of National Punctuation Day, Sept. 24, The Mini Page offers a review of proper punctuation.

Punctuation’s origins

Since the beginning of writing, people have used different marks to add more information to written words. For example, ancient Greeks had a system of dots to tell actors how much breath to take before a word or a phrase in a speech.

After the printing press was invented almost 600 years ago, people started making more rules about punctuation. Readers needed to know where one idea ended and a new one began. Today, technology is changing the rules again. Some people leave out capital letters and punctuation in emails and text messages. Others use a lot of exclamation points and question marks when texting and emailing.

Punctuation is important

Even though rules may be changing for text messaging and emailing, the rules have not changed for regular writing. If you are writing school papers, letters or a book, commas and other punctuation marks are still needed. Punctuation marks help the reader figure out your message in texts and emails too. Use the punctuation rules that fit what you’re writing.

Commas change meaning

If you put a punctuation mark in the wrong place, it can completely change the meaning of the sentence.

For example, compare these two sentences. How does the comma change the meaning?

Call me, Tom!

Call me Tom!

The confusing apostrophe

Apostrophes are used to show words are possessive, as in “the cat’s paws,” (one cat) or “the dogs’ leashes” (two or more dogs). Apostrophes are also used to show letters have been taken out of a word, as in “don’t” instead of “do not.” Apostrophes are NOT used to make words plural.

At the end

The period, question mark and exclamation point all come at the end of a sentence. They tell the reader about the writer’s tone of voice. The period shows the writer is making a simple statement. “Ali did her homework as soon as she got home.”

The question mark is exactly what it sounds like: It shows someone is asking a question. “Ali, have you done your homework yet?”

The exclamation point shows somebody is surprised or excited. “Yahoo! I am all done with my homework!”

Use a colon when the second part of the sentence explains the first part. “Becky couldn’t speak: She was so shy.”

Use a semicolon to link two thoughts together. “I remember Becky when she was little; now she’s so grown-up.”


On the Web:

At the library:

  • Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss

  • Let’s Eat Grandma! by Karina Law

Teachers: For standards-based activities to accompany this feature, visit Andrews McMeel Syndication. And follow The Mini Page on Facebook!



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