Periods, Question Marks, and Exclamation Points

Periods, Question Marks, Exclamation Points

In this lesson, you'll learn about the punctuation used to end sentences. In the English language, all sentences end in a period, question mark, or exclamation point. The uses of each of these are discussed below.


All sentences in English end in either a period, question mark, or exclamation point. This lesson goes over each of these.

The Period

The two major uses of the period "." are to mark the end of certain types of sentences and to indicate an abbreviation. Sentences that are statements, commands, instructions, or wishes end in a period.

Tammy bought a new sofa.
Sam has two cats.
Turn on the light.
Add 1 cup of water.
I think that is a good idea.

Indirect questions should also be marked by a period.

Before she went on vacation, she asked me if I would look after her dog.
I asked them if they would pay for my expenses.

Most abbreviations require the use of a period.

Mr., Ms., Mrs., Dr., Prof., Co., Inc., Corp.

Periods are often omitted from organizational names. Periods are also omitted from abbreviations of states and provinces.


Periods are not used in titles or headings. If a sentence already ends in a period because of an abbreviation, do not add another one.

Mary has a Ph.D.
Larry works at Skynet Corp.

The Question Mark

The question mark is used after direct questions.

Will my order be ready by Tuesday?
Will you be able to help me tomorrow?
Where are you going?

A question mark is also used when a question is being directly quoted.

She then asked, “What is your name?”
“Where does it hurt?”, asked the doctor.

The Exclamation Point

An exclamation point is used at the end of a sentence instead of a period in order to indicate emphasis or strong emotion.

Stop interrupting me!
Be careful with that axe!
Look out!

An exclamation point is also used after an interjection (a word or phrases that indicate strong emotion or surprise).

Oh dear! I forgot to lock the door.
Please! I need your help!

Note: An exclamation point is also called an exclamation mark.


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