Perfect punctuation: the quiz

    Punctuation quiz
    Von Toby Skingsley

    Punctuation is essential for expressing yourself clearly. But how much do you really know about this sometimes trickyhier: schwierigtricky topic? Do you to know sth. from sth.etw. von etw. unterscheiden könnenknow your hyphens from your colons? Where do you apply that apostrophe? And which situations do — and don’t — to call for sth.hier: etw. verlangen, benötigencall for a comma? Test your knowledge on this and more in our fun punctuation quiz.

    When you've finished the quiz, you'll find explanations to some of the questions at the bottom of the page.

    Lets — or should that be let’s? — go!

    Perfect punctuation — the quiz



    Finished? We've provided some background to the answers below:

    Question 4:

    You certainly need to add a comma before words like “who”, “which” and “whose” if you are adding extra information (a non-defining clause). However, for defining clauses, which indicate which person, thing or place we are talking about, no comma is needed.

    Often, the use of commas changes the meaning.

    1. The criminals, who were arrested last month, are in prison.
    2. The criminals who were arrested last month are in prison.

    In example 1, all the criminals have been arrested and are in prison. This sentence contains a non-defining clause with commas.
    In example 2, only those criminals arrested last month are in prison. There are other criminals who are still on the runauf der Fluchton the run. This example contains a defining clause, so no comma is needed.


    Question 5:

    Full point and period are correct. The word “period” is used in US English. 

    By the way, “solidusSchrägstrichsolidus” is another word for a forward slash /. And a backward slash? A “reverse solidusumgekehrter Schrägstrichreverse solidus”!


    Question 6:

    A question tag (such as “isn’t it?”, “aren’t we?” and “didn’t they?”) turns a sentence into a question. Question tags are separated by a comma. 

    • It’s a nice day today, isn’t it?


    Question 7:

    With plurals that end in an “s”, you only need to add an apostrophe.

    • My parents’ cat is always to cause troublefür Unruhe sorgencausing trouble.

    If the plural doesn’t end in an “s” — which is the case with irregular plurals like “children”, “men” and “women” — add an apostrophe and an “s”.

    • The women’s clothes department is on the first floor.


    Question 8:

    “It’s” is short for “it is” or “it has”. 

    • It’s a diamond ring!

    • It’s been raining for over an hour.

    “Its” (without an apostrophe) is a possessive, like “his” or “her”. 

    • We learned so much about the castle and its history.


    Question 9:

    Round brackets ( ) are also called “parentheses”.
    Braces are the curly brackets { } often used in maths, computing and other specialist fields. Angle brackets < > are also used in maths and computing.


    Question 10:

    An ellipsisAuslassungspunkteellipsis is used to show that something is missing. It is often applied when shortening something that someone has written or said.

    • He walked to town and, after chatting with Harry for what seemed like hours, finally arrived at the supermarket and bought some snacks for later.

    • He walked to town and … bought some snacks for later.

    An ellipsis can also be used for dramatic effect.

    • Then, the door to the haunted houseGeisterhaushaunted house began to open …


    We hope you’ve enjoyed our punctuation quiz. For more information and tips on punctuation in English, read our language feature “Perfect punctuation” in issue 11/17 of Spotlight magazine