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Punctuation and IELTS – Part 2

by IDP IELTS — July 8th, 2020

In the first part, we discovered the importance of using punctuation correctly on a sample text. Punctuation and IELTS – Part 2 article will help us to understand better when and how to use punctuation marks.

Capital Letter 

Where you should use capital letters:

  • When starting a new sentence

“This is because the elderly population has played a very important role in our society and they are the reason for our existence.”

  • When writing abbreviations

“Developed countries such as the UK and the US play a key role in the direction the world’s economy takes.”


Where you should use comma:

  • When separating sorted items

Elderly people teach us values, traditions and how to deal with life experiences.

  • Before conjunctions

“Scientists have been warning us about the effects of climate change for years, yet many people have chosen not to listen.” 

  • After an introductory statement (including conjunctions, dependent clauses and discourse markers) 

“In my opinion, parents are responsible for teaching their children values like kindness and compassion.”

  • After the condition sentence that starts with if clause

“If all supermarkets charged a fee for the use of plastic bags, more people would be encouraged to bring their own reusable bags when shopping.”  

  • To separate information that is necessary and not necessary when providing additional information

“The graph shows the amount of time that schoolchildren, who are between the ages of 6 and 12, spend on different home activities.” 


Where you should use semicolon:

  • To link the independent sentence that shares the same main idea

“Immigration isn’t a black and white issue; it’s actually much more complicated than most people think.”

  • To separate comma-containing sorted objects

“The cities mentioned in the study include Paris, France; Athens, Greece; and Berlin, Germany.”


Where you should use colon:

  • When making definition

“The process of making plastic products can be divided into three main stages: the production of long molecules from raw materials, the transformation from molecules to mould and the handling of the finished product.”

  • When the second sentence describes the first sentence or to separate the two independent sentences described

“When faced with difficult situations, people always have two choices: run away or fight.”


Where you should use brackets:

  • When providing unnecessary information

“The graphs below compare the average monthly earnings of male and female graduates in three different countries (Egypt, Brazil and New Zealand).”

Other punctuation marks that are unlikely to be used in IELTS, but are important for your articles:

  • Question Mark (?): Used when asking questions directly.
  • Exclamation Mark (!): Used when expressing strong emotions such as surprise and excitement
  • Quotation Mark (“): Used when quoting someone else’s words.

Remember, one of the most effective ways to improve your use of punctuation is to read. Notice how to use it every time you read, especially when the writer is using punctuation less familiar to you. The more you do this, the more accurate you can use punctuation in IELTS.

Check out more tips and preparation materials

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