IELTS Punctuations Rules

IELTS Writing test is scored on the basis of Grammar, Spelling, Vocabulary, Coherence, Sentential range, Organization and Punctuation.

No matter how it seems in size and importance, quite a lot of marks are lost for the lack of correct or inappropriate punctuation marks.

In this article, let us look at the IELTS Punctuations Rules for grammar, and get rid of some misnomers surrounding it.

Let us discuss punctuation marks one at a time, depending on their order of importance.

IELTS Punctuations Rules

1. Full stop (UK English)/ Period (American English)

A full stop, otherwise known as period in US English is a symbol (.) which is used

a) To end sentences.

For example,

Sally woke up early and made a tea for herself.

Rama killed Ravana.

b) For abbreviations. Whenever a shortened form of a word is written in English, it needs to be followed by a full stop.

For example,

Dr. Watson is the best surgeon in the city.

Cheese, butter, etc. are used to fry vegetables.

Rev. D. Patrick has retired.

2. Comma

Symbolized by (,), a comma is used in various contexts like

a) Separating clauses.

For example,

Unlike the other day, the sun is shining today.

The girl, who was seen crying for her parents, has reunited with them.

b) After sentence initial adverbs

Occasionally, she would drink a few pegs of alcohol.

Usually, it’s a busy street.

c) When listing more than two things in a sentence.

For example,

I need sprouts, sausages, eggs and coffee for breakfast.

The country needs social, political, financial and environmental reform.

d) When using multiple adjectives to modify a noun.

For example,

The quick, brown fox jumped over the wall.

It was a bright, sunny day.

e) While using numbers more than 3 digits.


For example, 3,98,764

f) While quoting someone, use a comma before the quotation marks.

For example,

He asked anxiously, “Aren’t we getting late?

The butcher exclaimed, “This is too much workload

g) Always use a comma and a conjunction when joining two independent clauses.

It was raining, but I reached on time.

For example,

Can you come, or should I go?

h) While adding adjuncts. Adjuncts are optional additional information and are to be preceded and followed by commas.

For example,

Ramesh, who is a good painter, is coming to town today.

My friend, whom I last met 10 years, is going to get married.

i) While writing an address

54/1, Baker’s Street

202, Green House, Ameerpet

3. Apostrophe

Although the prescriptive grammar books gives you 14 rules in terms of using the apostrophe, it is one of the most simple punctuation to use. Symbolized with (‘), the apostrophe is used in the following situations:

a) To show ownership or possession.

For example,

This is Sam’s car.

I am wearing my mother’s watch.

I envy senators’ lives.

Note: To show possession, use the apostrophe after the word if the word ends with s (singular or plural) and use and ‘s in case it ends with any other letter. That is one simple rule covering 4 different rules that you learnt in school.

b) Contractions. Whenever you want to eliminate a letter from informal written English, just replace it with the apostrophe.

For example,

Isn’t it very warm today?

I’m afraid I can’t reach on time.

4. Question mark

A question mark, symbolized by (?) is used to ask a question. In other words, it is used at the end of interrogative sentences.

For example,

What is your name?

Why don’t we catch up over a coffee today?

5. Semicolon

One of the most underrated and underused punctuation is the semicolon. The semicolon, symbolized with (;) can be to join two closely related sentences together, but we seldom use it.

For example,

I watched a movie; it had an amazing storyline.

I have an exam tomorrow; I can’t party tonight.

6. Colon

Colons, symbolized by (:) are majorly used to introduce item(s).

For example,

a) Introducing single item

The highest revenue earning movie ever made in India: Bahubali.

His greatest dream: To visit Vienna.

b) Introducing a list of items

The following factors are responsible for language learning: attitude, right training, age and motivation.

Tea is made up of the following: water, tea leaves, milk and sugar.

7.Exclamation mark

Symbolized by (!), any expression of emotion is followed by an exclamation mark.

For example, Yaayyy! We won the match!

Are you for real!

8. Quotation mark

The quotation mark is symbolized by (“”) and is used in the following two contexts:

a) Quoting someone’s speech as it is.

For example, Jerry asked, “Why haven’t you started yet?”

The sergeant said, “We are not supposed to disclose any details of an ongoing case.”

b) Referring to a title.

I was “Merchant of Venice” yesterday.

Please watch the “Criminal Minds”; it is amazing.

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  • mahi
    Posted at 06:10h, 05 April Reply

    these very informative and useful tips

  • Roan
    Posted at 06:13h, 05 April Reply

    Thank you so much for these amazing tips. I have had a lot of problems in drilling the punctuation into my head.

  • ashok
    Posted at 06:18h, 05 April Reply

    I really like the way of writing

  • Amil
    Posted at 06:19h, 05 April Reply

    Thank you so much for sharing this essential information

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