IELTS Punctuation Marks

Most of the candidates do not focus on punctuation marks while writing their essays. That is the biggest mistake. You should know that punctuation marks play a crucial role in making sentences more meaningful. Here we have listed down commonly used punctuation marks and their use in the IELTS writing test.

Using Comma

You shall use commas when you want to separate a list of similar items.


It is necessary that you should make your writing clear, understandable, and precise. 

You need to use words that are clear, accurate, and simple. 

She was friendly, inquisitive, talkative, and intelligent.

Using a comma before AND

In British English use of a comma before AND is unacceptable.

  • They bought one dozen apples, oranges, and bananas (incorrect)
  • They bought one dozen apples, oranges and bananas (correct).

However, American English does use a comma. It is placed before AND in order to separate the items in the list.

She packed her bag, and didn’t care to talk to his friends. (American English)

We also use commas with the goal to separate a list of the words or phrase that mark where the voice would pause slightly 

  • They have, indeed, done their best but still didn’t get through.
  • They can’t assure you of it. However, you will receive the reports tomorrow. 
  • Martha, our teacher, will teach you from tomorrow. 

How to separate clauses with commas?

It is not recommended that you use commas for main clauses with the same subject which are separated by the words such as or, and, and but.

But, if the main clauses have different subjects then you can use a comma to separate the clauses.


  • Their family was amicable and supportive and they invited us to the party (same subject). 
  • Cricketers are known to earn more money than writers but they also deserve it (same subject)
  • It was an expensive car, but he decided to buy it for his daughter (different clauses)  

Separate tags with commas


  • She will learn the piano, won’t she?
  • She doesn’t like chocolates, does she?
  • They are heroes, aren’t they?

Separate yes-no responses with commas


  • Yes, that was great. Thanks a lot.
  • No, you don’t have to come. I will manage.

Separate discourse markers, interjection, and vocatives with commas


  • Well, what is your opinion about it? Discourse marker
  • Wow, that was awesome (interjection)
  • Open the door for the children, Martha, can you? Thanks (vocative)  

Using semicolon to separate lists


  • Three students are selected for the prize: John, Eliza and Marshall. 

We use colons when we want to indicate a subtitle.


  •  Life in China: From Past to Present 
  • London Railway Project: The Story Untold

You can use a colon to introduce direct speech

  • Then she said: “I do want to invite you to the party.”

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