Commas, Periods/Full Stops, Question Marks (or Nothing)

There I was strolling my eyes across the pages of RoughWaterJohn’s blog when I came across his question on  punctuation:

Oh, and another thing. :-) How do you know when to put commas, periods, question marks (or nothing) at the end of a line?


One of his crew’s comments…:

If you’re asking regarding a formal definition, then the answer is this: The commas should go where there is a natural “rest” or “pause”.

Some people use a comma at the end of each line (a formal device often used in poetry) but that is totally up to the author whether or not to use them that way.

Periods go at the end of a sentence, or when the thought (or line) is completely finished.

Question marks, too, go at the very end of a question/sentence/line – you have to decide if you’re asking a question or making a statement – if it’s a question, use the question mark.

Does your sentence/line start with “Who/What/Why/Where/When/How”? Chances are (but not always), if it does, you’re asking a question.

If it’s a statement, use a period when you’re done. Again, using a comma or nothing to break up each line is just personal preference of the author. You’ll see many examples of both.

Is that clear as mud? lol :)


…lead me to share my own:

Just to share my thoughts on punctuation:

1. Never forget that we writers of poetry have the right to bend the rules
(Cap’n you be likin’ this one!)  It’s called “poetic license”:

“The liberty taken by an artist or a writer in deviating from conventional form or fact to achieve a desired effect.”
(Taken from

2. Try reading your words aloud or having them read aloud. The points where you hesitate, pause or ponder during the reading is a clear indication that either it’s not penned correctly (and in that case, it’s back to the drawing board) or that it’s a place for a line break or it’s where you need some sort of punctuation mark.

3. There’s more to marking pause than just commas, question marks and the likes.
There’s also “…” as well as hyphens, en dashes and em dashes.

For a quick idea of the dashes: hypen’s the shortest, en comes next followed by em.

(Check this out for more info:

4. These be nothing but Em postin’ a bit of ‘er fodder4writing ;-D


About emanita01

I am a Franco-american woman who hails from Massachusetts. I live in France near the Swiss border, only minutes away from Geneva. I am a member of the Geneva Writers Group and the Association La Forge, a literary group based in France. I write stories, poems and am currently working on a couple of plays, a one-woman show and actively learning how to perform stand-up comedy.
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One Response to Commas, Periods/Full Stops, Question Marks (or Nothing)

  1. Pingback: Just a Little Grammar FYI… « Perfectly Prompted!

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