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Punctuation for Effect

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Team Digital

Basics on the topic Punctuation for Effect

Learn about what commas, dashes, ellipses and brackets do and how we use them in writing.

Transcript Punctuation for Effect

"It's time to eat Grandma..." "Are you... Are you sure Koko?!" "Yes! And dinner is a surprise..." While Pip tries to understand what Koko means, let's learn all about punctuation for effect. When we talk about effect, we are talking about the impact something might have upon another thing. To make writing more interesting and engaging for the reader, we use punctuation for effect. Writing includes many different types of punctuation, but today we will focus on: commas, dashes, ellipses and brackets. You may already know about commas, but let's review quickly. Commas effect sentences by adding a short pause. For example, you could write, ‘My favourite side dish, mashed potatoes, is on the menu tonight.' And 'Let's eat, Grandma.' These bits of extra information add a sense of fulfilment for the reader, since they know what you were talking about or who you were talking to. Now let's look at some punctuation you may not have used too much before: dashes, ellipses and brackets. Dashes can set off information that is important, like a name or date, and can add emotion through statements and information. Examples include 'My favourite chef is cooking dinner tonight - the amazing Koko!' and 'The dinner is to celebrate Grandma's birthday - she is nintey-five years old!' Next, we have ellipses. Ellipses are used to show that there is more to come, or to create suspense. We also use ellipses to indicate a pause, or to leave a sentence unfinished. For example, 'It's time to eat Grandma...' shows suspense, or 'I can't tell you what's for dinner... it's a surprise' indicates a pause. Finally, we have brackets. Brackets are used to add information that is not necessary to the main point of the sentence, but can also add further explantion to sentences. Examples include 'Let's eat, Grandma (it's already 5pm', or 'Let's eat, Grandma (no, we are not going to eat her)!' Can you write a sentence that uses a dash, ellipsis, or brackets for effect? Share your sentence in the comments! Now we know more about punctuation for effect, let's review! Punctuation can add effect to your sentences, by adding emotion, suspense, or additional information to your writing. Some of the punctuation we focused on today are commas, dashes, ellipses and brackets. Try and use these in your writing next time to see if you can add some effect for your readers! "Oh good! You meant 'Let's eat, Grandma'!" "What did you think I meant?" "Oh... never mind!"

Punctuation for Effect exercise

Would you like to apply the knowledge you’ve learnt? You can review and practice it with the tasks for the video Punctuation for Effect.
  • What does each punctuation mark do?


    Here is an example sentence with a comma:

    Terrified, Lily screamed for help.

    Here is an example sentence with a dash:

    After many years of dreaming, the old man realised it was time to finally revisit the land of his youth—Scotland.

    Here is an example sentence with ellipses:

    The story will continue...

    Here is an example sentence with brackets:

    I bought a gift for you (and two for me).

    • Commas add a short pause to a sentence.
    • Dashes add emotion through statements or information.
    • Ellipses show that there is more to come or create suspense. They can also show a sentence that is not finished.
    • Brackets add information that is not necessary to the main point of the sentence.
  • Put the punctuation in the correct place.


    Sentences with conjunctions like so, and, yet and but use commas before the word.

    Ellipses adds suspense to the sentence.

    A dash is used to add emotion or information to a sentence.


    A comma is used in this sentence to add a short pause.

    • I love dogs, but my brother loves cats.
    Ellipses are used in this sentence to show suspense.
    • We slowly walked into the dark cave...
    A dash is used in this sentence to add more information.
    • I saw Mrs. Smith - the teacher who lives on my street.

  • Which sentence should have brackets?


    Brackets highlight information that is not essential to the main topic.

    The subject or the verb of the sentence should not be in brackets.

    Check to see if the sentence would still make sense without the information in the brackets.


    My grandmother (who I barely knew) loved to create quilts.

    The brackets are used correctly in this sentence because they surround information that is less important or not essential to the main topic of the sentence.

  • Which commas are in the correct places?


    If you are talking to someone and not about them, you need to put a comma before their name.

    Commas come before conjunctions (and, so, but, yet).

    Commas come after words that indicate time like first, last, next, secondly.

    If extra information is added that gives the reader a sense of fulfillment, a comma is needed.


    Let's watch TV, grandpa.

    • In this sentence, they are asking grandpa to watch, not watching grandpa, so the comma goes before 'grandpa'.
    I really love chocolate ice cream, but she likes vanilla.
    • Commas go before conjunctions to add a pause.
    Next, we will go running.
    • Commas come after words that indicate time.
    His mother, a teacher, made him do his homework.
    • In this sentence, commas are needed because extra information is added to the sentence.

  • What is one reason punctuation is used in writing?


    What effect does punctuation have on your writing?

    Punctuation is sometimes used to add more information to writing.

    Punctuation makes writing more engaging.


    Punctuation can be used to add effect that makes writing more engaging and informative for readers.

  • Can you complete the sentences?


    Ellipses help to add suspense in a sentence.

    Dashes are often used to add extra information or emotion in a sentence.

    If you opened a container and did not know what was inside, would suspense be building as you opened it?

    Is the statement the wonderful Tommy adding emotion or extra information to the sentence I am watching the best football player in the league tonight?


    A dash is used in this sentence because the phrase adds emotion.

    • I am watching the best football player in the league tonight - the wonderful Tommy!
    In this sentence, the ellipses is creating suspense.
    • He carefully opened the container and discovered ... a pile of buttons!
    The ellipses adds a long pause into this sentence which creates suspense.
    • She paused, lost in thought ...
    The dash in this sentence adds more information and emotion to the sentence.
    • I plan all the trips - she has all the fun.