Punctuation for Effect – Tone and Emphasis


Punctuation for Effect – Tone and Emphasis provides students a great foundation for how end punctuation and commas can affect a sentence. Students will learn about exclamation marks and question marks, as well as commas. They will discover that using different punctuation at the end of the sentence can completely change its meaning. They will also learn how commas can affect sentences in similar ways.

You can use the “Objects for Lesson” section to find alternative ideas or suggestions for your lesson. In this lesson, the section offers an interactive activity online that involves punctuation marks. You can use in as a supplemental activity during one of your class sessions.

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What our Punctuation for Effect – Tone and Emphasis lesson plan includes

Lesson Objectives and Overview: Punctuation for Effect – Tone and Emphasis teaches students how to use punctuation marks to achieve different results. They will learn about using question marks, exclamation marks, and commas to affect sentences in different ways. Students will review sentence types in this lesson, but the focus will remain on end punctuation.

Three pages of content outline the four types of sentences. The lesson defines each one and gives an example to illustrate the concept. Next, it explains how changing the punctuation mark at the end of a sentence and affect its tone or emphasis. For instance, an exclamation mark implies a very different message than a period. The lesson describes how reading a sentence out loud can help you determine what punctuation you should use.

Next, the lesson describes commas and the role they play in affecting the tone of a sentence. It specifically explains how missing commas can change the meaning of a sentence entirely. For instance, one example shows that a sentence could be about time travelers if there isn’t a comma in a specific place. You can practice this exercise with some examples of your own.


The activity lists 21 sentence strips. You will give each student three sentence strips. Have them end the sentence with a period, a question mark, and an exclamation mark. Then have them read the statements aloud. The students will then hold up the strip with the correct punctuation. At this point, you will remind them that some sentences can have more than one end punctuation mark depending on its tone.


For the practice portion, students will read 11 sentences. They will explain how the sentences can have different punctuation marks. Then they will describe how changing the punctuation mark affects the tone of the sentence.


The homework assignment requires students to read 10 sentences that contain commas. They will remove the commas and re-read the sentence. On the line below each statement, they will write how the sentence’s message changed when they removed the commas.

Additional information


5th Grade


Language Arts

State Educational Standards


Lessons are aligned to meet the education objectives and goals of most states. For more information on your state objectives, contact your local Board of Education or Department of Education in your state.