Sample Grammar and Punctuation Rules with Examples

Goodman School of Business

Sample Grammar and Punctuation Rules with Examples

The following English grammar information is edited from the University of Victoria Upper Intermediate Study Zone.


“Parts of speech” are the basic types of words that English has. Most grammar books say that there are eight parts of speech: nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, pronouns, conjunctions, prepositions, and interjections. There is one more type to add: articles.

It is important to be able to recognize and identify the different types of words in English so that you can understand grammar explanations and use the right word form in the right place. Here is a brief explanation of what the parts of speech are:


A noun is a naming word. It names a person, place, thing, idea, living creature, quality, or action.

Examples: cowboy, theatre, box, thought, tree, kindness, arrival


A verb is a word which describes an action (doing something) or a state (being something).

Examples: walk, talk, think, believe, live, like, want


An adjective is a word that describes a noun. It tells you something about the noun.

Examples: big, yellow, thin, amazing, beautiful, quick, important


An adverb is a word which usually describes a verb. It tells you how something is done. It may also tell you when or where something happened.

Examples: slowly, intelligently, well, yesterday, tomorrow, here, everywhere


A pronoun is used instead of a noun, to avoid repeating the noun.

Examples: I, you, he, she, it, we, they


A conjunction joins two words, phrases or sentences together.

Examples: but, so, and, because, or


A preposition usually comes before a noun, pronoun or noun phrase. It joins the noun to some other part of the sentence.

Examples: on, in, by, with, under, through, at


An interjection is an unusual kind of word, because it often stands alone. Interjections are words which express emotion or surprise, and they are usually followed by exclamation marks.

Examples: Ouch!, Hello!, Hurray!, Oh no!, Ha!


An article, sometimes called a determiner, is used to introduce a noun.

Examples: the, a, an


The following English language punctuation information is edited from the Purdue Online Writing Lab and the University of Sydney, UTS, Business School: Guide to Writing Assignments.

Sample Rules for Using Commas

  1. Use commas to separate independent clauses when they are joined by any of these seven coordinating conjunctions: and, but, for, or, nor, so, yet.

    The game was over, but the crowd refused to leave.
    The student explained her question, yet the instructor still didn't seem to understand.
    Yesterday was her brother's birthday, so she took him out to dinner.

  2. Use commas after introductory a) clauses, b) phrases, or c) words that come before the main clause.

a. Common starter words for introductory clauses that should be followed by a comma include after, although, as, because, if, since, when, while.

While I was eating, the cat scratched at the door.
Because her alarm clock was broken, she was late for class.
If you are ill, you ought to see a doctor.
When the snow stops falling, we'll shovel the driveway.

More rules for using commas

Sample Rules for Using Semicolons

  1. You can use a semicolon to join two independent clauses. Joining two independent clauses this way implies that the two clauses are related and/or equal, or perhaps that one restates the other.
    Seinfeld was definitely my favourite television show during the 1990s; in fact, it is my favourite television show of all time.

    Mary and I are going to ABC Industries in Winnipeg next week; we’ll make sure to meet up with Terry Jones, Lisa Mandel, and rest of the Innovations Team.

  2. Use semicolons between items in a list that already involve commas.
    I have lived in Calgary, Alberta; Denver, Colorado; and Houston, Texas.

    The sweaters we purchase-ordered today were purple, blue, and green; yellow, white, and red; and pink, black, and grey.

  3. Use a semicolon in place of a period to separate two sentences where the conjunction has been left out.
    Call me tomorrow; I will give you my answer then.
    I have paid my dues; therefore, I expect all the privileges listed in the contract.

More rules for using semicolons and colons

Sample Rules for Using Colons

  1. Use a colon after an independent clause when introducing a list.
    The catering facility offers the following entrees: fried catfish, grilled chicken, pan-seared salmon, and sirloin steak.
  2. Use a colon after an independent clause when introducing a quotation.
    My teacher’s remark on my final essay was very complimentary: “This essay coherently analyzes marketing trends of the past fiscal year.”
  3. Use a colon between two independent clauses when you want to emphasize the second clause.
    I don’t understand why that store does so well: everything there is so expensive.

Ten Keys to Successful Business Writing

  1. Always recognize that your written words not only reflect your expertise, but also your diligence and commitment.
  2. Good business writing requires keeping sentences brief. Long sentences are most often signs of an undisciplined mind.
  3. Always spell the names of persons, places, and things correctly. There is almost no room for error in business-writing.
  4. Diligently check your spelling. The use of spell-check programs is almost always inadequate by itself.
  5. Use punctuation marks appropriately. Most common errors in business writing have to do with commas, semicolons, and colons. Use of the many courses, workshops, coaches, and other resources listed on this website will enhance your business-writing skill-set.
  6. An executive summary should reflect your careful reflection of the main points of the full document/material.
  7. An executive summary should be readable within two minutes or less. If more detail is absolutely necessary, consider a three to five page “Addendum to the Executive Summary.”
  8. Use bulleted lists sparingly. Make certain their meaning has some substance and can be understood by the reader.
  9. If your written words don’t sound right when read aloud, there is almost always something wrong with the grammar or punctuation.
  10. It has been said that “a document which bears your name is your real calling card. It reflects what you really offer, what you value, and your true level of commitment.” This holds true of anything you write. For the people reading it your words, and how you use them, signals who you are. Keep this saying in mind when writing an academic paper, sending an email or letter, writing a resume, or creating a business report.
Students studying in the library