Punctuation
Year 7 Sentence Starters
Icons key:
For more detailed instructions, see the Getting Started presentation
Flash activity. These activities are not editable.
Extension activities
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Web addresses
Teacher’s notes included in the Notes Page
Accompanying worksheet
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Contents
Apostrophes to show contractions
Apostrophes to show possession
Possessive pronouns
Apostrophes to show unusual plurals
Apostrophes activities
Colons
Semicolons
Punctuation which adds information
Brackets
Dashes
Commas
Speech Marks
Punctuation activities
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The importance of good punctuation
I really want to be a novelist when
I’m older. My teacher said that I
need to improve my ‘clarity of
expression’ to become a good
writer.
Well, I might become a sports
journalist when I’m older. My
teacher told me that I need to
use different types of punctuation
for style but I find it very difficult.
Megan and Tom can improve their writing by varying
their punctuation to write clearly and stylishly.
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Apostrophes to show contractions
Apostrophes to show
contractions
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Apostrophes
Apostrophes (’) are the most commonly misused punctuation
mark. They have three main uses. They show:
1. contractions
2. possession
3. unusual plurals
Contractions are shortened forms of words which have
letters missing. The apostrophe is used in place of the
missing letters, e.g.
It’s is short for It is.
We’ll is short for we will or we shall.
Can’t is short for cannot.
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Contractions
We use contractions a lot when we are speaking aloud
because they save time and sound informal.
Fill in the grid below with as many contractions as you can.
contraction
original words
It’s
It is
Contractions should be avoided in formal writing though,
such as in essays and letters, as they sound too chatty.
However, some writers use them when they write down the
direct speech of a character or person.
Why do you think some writers use contractions
in direct speeches?
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Apostrophes to show possession
Apostrophes to show
possession
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Possession
Apostrophes are also used to show possession: who or what
owns something, e.g.
This is Max’s book means This book belongs to Max.
Adding an apostrophe and an s after a
person, place or thing shows that he/she/it are
the owner of the other noun in the sentence.
Here are some more examples:
1. Megan’s pet tarantula is called Mogg.
2. Mogg’s owner is called Megan.
3. All of the bus’s seats are full.
Now write down five of your own sentences
using apostrophes to show possession.
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Possession
To show possession we normally add an apostrophe and an s
after the word.
We don’t add the extra s, however, if the word is a plural
noun because it already ends in an s, and it would become
too difficult to pronounce, e.g.
1. The toilets’ hand-driers are broken.
2. You only have two weeks’ holiday.
3. Those plants’ leaves are brown.
Try to write five sentences using apostrophes
to show possession for plural nouns.
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Possessive pronouns
Possessive pronouns
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Possessive pronouns
The exception to the apostrophe rule are these possessive
pronouns which show possession without apostrophes:
yours
not you’s
his
not he’s
hers
not she’s
its
not it’s
ours
not our’s
theirs
not their’s
whose
not who’s
Why do you think possessive plurals are written
differently? What could they be confused with?
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Possessive pronouns
Here are some examples of the possessive pronouns which
do not need apostrophes.
1. His new car is better than mine.
2. The bird flapped its wings.
3. Is my drawing better than hers?
4. Are these books the same as yours?
5. Shall we use your plates or ours?
6. Ben prefers our home to theirs.
7. Whose chocolate bar is this?
Now try to write your own example for each one.
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Apostrophes to show unusual plurals
Apostrophes to show
unusual plurals
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Unusual plurals
The final use of apostrophes is to show unusual plurals, such
as number, letters and symbols, which would be unreadable
otherwise, e.g.
1. There is one c and two s’s in the word necessary.
2. Continental 7’s are scored with horizontal lines.
3. You must mind your p’s and q’s around strangers.
4. Your mobile phone number is easy to remember
because there are three 0’s in it.
5. My postcode has two B’s in it.
Write five sentences which include numbers and
letters that are pluralized with apostrophes.
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Apostrophe activities
Apostrophe activities
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Its/it’s quiz
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Apostrophes activity
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Colons
Colons
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Colons
A colon (:) shows that the words which follow it are an
explanation or an example of what is written before it, e.g.
A hamburger is made up of three layers: the bottom
half of the bun, the burger and the top half of the bun.
A colon is usually placed after a complete sentence but it
can be followed by many or few words, e.g.
The environment is facing a huge threat: global warming.
Colons are placed directly after the last word of the main
idea and they are followed by one space only. They are
never followed by either a hyphen (-) or a dash (–).
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Colons
Here are some more examples of sentences with colons:
1. Tom watched a football match on Saturday:
Chelsea versus Arsenal.
2. The fire destroyed many things in the house:
the furniture, the carpets and the curtains.
3. I just bought a new car: a Land Rover.
4. There are seven colours in the rainbow: red,
orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet.
5. Megan went shopping and bought some fruit:
two apples, some cherries and a melon.
Write down five sentences using colons to either
explain points, add details or give examples.
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Semicolons
Semicolons
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Semicolons
A semicolon (;) joins two complete sentences into one.
This is because some sentences are too closely related to be
separated by a full stop but they are missing a connecting
word, such as and or but, e.g.
Eating chocolate in moderation is fine;
eating chocolate to excess is bad.
The semicolon joins the separate statements about chocolate
into one sentence which acts like a warning: eating a little
chocolate is fine but beware of eating a lot because it is bad.
It suggests that the first event is related to the second event.
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Semicolons
Here are some more examples of sentences with semicolons:
1. Megan was angry; Tom was not listening.
2. It was the best year; it was the worst year.
3. Max felt hot; the sun was blazing.
4. I don’t like cabbage; I don’t like carrots.
5. I found the film long; Tim found the film short.
What does the semicolon imply in each sentence?
What would happen if the semicolons were replaced
with colons or full stops?
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Colons and semicolons
Colons and semicolons are good to use in your writing as they
are stylish. They can change the meanings of the same set of
words, e.g.
Lei is happy:
happy;
happy. Max is sad.
1. Using a full stop separates the events into unrelated
events: Lei happens to be happy and Max happens to be sad.
2. Using a colon changes the two events into one event with an
explanation: Lei is (quite cruelly) happy because Max is sad.
3. The semicolon links the two events. Lei, therefore, may be
happy that Max is sad, or Max may be sad that Lei is happy.
Try to write five sentences using semicolons to
link two sentences together.
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Apostrophes, colons and semicolons
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Punctuation which adds information
Punctuation which adds
information
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Sentences with extra information
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Brackets
Brackets
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Round brackets
I want to be able to mildly distract
my readers with extra information
about the sports players…
Brackets allow you to add extra information to a sentence,
which is useful but not necessary or to add your opinion, e.g.
‘Charlie Johnson (aged 21 years) has
(unfortunately) played for Charlton for
three seasons.’
The sentence still makes sense without the information in the
brackets, e.g.
‘Charlie Johnson has played for Charlton for three years.’
TIP: Brackets add extra details to a sentence
and are only a mild distraction.
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Using round brackets
Try to work out where to use brackets in these examples:
1. Tom went to watch a football match (Liverpool versus
Chelsea ) on Saturday.
2. Speaking foreign languages (I believe) is a useful
skill.
3. Watching too much TV (over two hours per day ) is
bad for your eyesight.
4. Megan went to the hairdresser’s (on Tuesday) to have
her hair cut.
5. My parents ( Jack and Linda) are very strict.
Did you draw your brackets in these places?
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Dashes
Dashes
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Pairs of dashes
I want to be able to distract my
readers with dramatic background
information on my characters…
Pairs of dashes allow writers to strongly interrupt the flow of
a sentence to provide their readers with useful information,
e.g.
‘The countess glared at the maid – who had stolen the
heart of her husband – and threw a silver hairbrush at her.’
The extra information is placed between the dashes for
emphasis, but the sentence should also make sense alone.
TIP: Dashes add extra details to a sentence,
deliberately causing a major distraction and
disrupting the flow.
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Using pairs of dashes
Try to work out where to use dashes in these examples:
1. Lei glared at Max who had beaten her in a quiz
and then childishly stuck her tongue out at him.
2. The lions stalked the antelope deliberately terrifying it
before killing and eating it.
3. The farmer’s sheepdog, Rusty clearly his most loyal
friend followed the farmer wherever he went.
4. Pesticides are used to help crops grow regardless of
their negative effects large and quickly.
5. Peter and Sue had a beautiful baby weighing 11
pounds last week.
Did you put your dashes in these places?
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Commas
Commas
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Pairs of commas
Megan, do you know how to use
punctuation to add some information
that won’t disrupt the flow?
Oh yes, I remember, you need
to use pairs of commas…
Sometimes, we want to add information to make our writing
clearer, without distracting the reader from the sentence, e.g.
John, who hated cola, bought a lemonade in the café.
TIP: Pairs of commas add extra details to a
sentence without ruining the flow.
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Using pairs of commas
Try to work out where to use pairs of commas in these
examples:
1. Mexico, assumed by many to be a South American
country, is in North America.
2. Saint Patrick , also patron saint of excluded people , is
the patron saint of Ireland.
3. The Moon, although it floats in space like the Earth, is
not a planet.
4. Bulls, despite the fact that they will attack a red cloak ,
are colour-blind.
5. A tomato , although a fruit, is usually eaten on a salad.
Did you put your commas in these places?
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Punctuation game
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Speech marks
Speech marks
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Direct speech
Before writing my novel, I need to
know how to write down the speeches
of my characters.
And I need to know how to report the
speeches of sportsmen and women
after I interview them.
To report direct speech (the exact words that a person or
character has spoken aloud) you must use speech marks.
Speech marks look like “ ” or ‘ ’.
Speech marks surround the words of direct speech to show
that those words are different from the rest of the writing.
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Speech marks
To add some direct speech in a larger sentence, introduce it
with a comma and enclose it in speech marks, e.g.
John turned to Jane and said, “You love me.”
If the direct speech forms a complete sentence, it must start
with a capital letter and finish with a full stop – inside of the
speech marks.
However, if the speech is only part of a sentence, it must
start in lower case and finish with a comma – inside of the
speech marks, e.g.
John turned to Jane and said, “sorry,”
looking uncomfortable.
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Speech marks
It is also possible to interrupt a speech so that you can add
a description about the speech or speaker, e.g.
John turned to Jane and said, “You love me,”
looking uncomfortable, “but I can’t marry you.”
Commas are used to introduce each part of the direct
speech. The full stop only comes at the very end once the
sentence is complete.
Direct speeches only begin with capital letters if they form
complete sentences, if they begin with proper nouns or the
pronoun ‘I’, or they start a sentence, e.g.
“I think,” said Jane looking murderous,
“you are a pig.”
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Speech marks activity
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Using speech marks
Try to work out where to put speech marks in the sentences:
1. Tom said to Megan,“May I borrow your CD please?”
2. Megan said,“yes,” smiling at Tom.
3. I turned to Amy and said,“Amy,”as I gazed at her new
dress,“you look pretty.”
4. “Jack, you smell,” said Jill,“take a shower.”
5. Paul said to Dan,“Do I,” looking smug,“annoy you?”
Did you put your speech marks in these places?
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Punctuation activities
Punctuation activity and
summary
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Follow on activity
Write down some sentences which Tom could use in a
sports article and Megan could use in a novel.
Include some apostrophes, colons, semicolons, brackets,
dashes, pairs of commas and some direct speech in speech
marks.
Now rewrite the sentences without punctuation!
Swap your sentences with a partner and ask them to add the
correct punctuation.
If they used different punctuation to you, discuss why each
choice was made (you might both be right!).
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Punctuation summary
To sum up how these forms of use punctuation:
apostrophes are used to represent the missing letters in
contractions (can’t) and to show possession
colons help you to provide and explanation or example in
one sentence
semicolons link two complete sentences to imply cause
and effect
brackets, dashes and pairs of commas all add extra
information to sentences; their content is handy to know
but is not vital
wrap speech marks around direct speech.
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Punctuation - Prestwich Arts College