I’ve gone to The Dark Side: I took a PowerShell class. I’ve started writing new scripts and replacing old VBscripts. Was it scary? Terrifying. Learning a new language – programming or speaking – is never easy. Do I know everything? Not even close. I know how to get help (get-help – get it? harharhar…), and who to ask for help.

One of the biggest obstacles for me was figuring out the punctuation and syntax in PowerShell. How do I comment out a line? Why (), [] and {}? What does it all mean?

I made myself this PowerShell Punctuation Cheat Sheet. Hopefully it helps you out too!

Symbol Name Function Example
# Pound or Hash Declare comment line.
$ Dollar sign Declare a variable. $Name
= Equal Assigns value to variable. $Name="Jes"
| Pipe Take info from first cmdlet; pass to second. Get-Childitem | Get-Member
Hyphen Joins verbs-nouns.
Used for parameters, modifiers, filters.
Get-Process -name s*
" Double-quote Use around text. Variables will show the value. $a=100
"The value of a is $a" will output as:
The value of a is 100
' Single-quote Treats text as literal. $a=100
'The value of a is $a' will output as:
The value of a is $a
` Escape/grave accent The escape character. Use to take the next character literally. "The value is `$10" will output as:
The value is $10
It won't treat it as a variable.
() Parentheses Provide arguments.
(2 +1)*4
[] Brackets Access elements of array.
In -like comparisons.
Set variable type.
-like [ab]*
{} Curly brackets Enclose block of code. Get-Wmiobject -list | where {$_.name -match "win32*"}
, Comma Separate items in a list.
; Semi-colon Run multiple commands on same line. $Name="Jes"; $Name
+ Plus Concatenate.

There are four main commands to remember for PowerShell. Using these four commands, you can figure out nearly anything.

Command Function Example
Get-Help Get help with a cmdlet. Provides name, syntax, links and more. Get-Help Get-Date
Get-Command Provides information about all available cmdlets. Get-Command Format-List
Get-Member Get the properties and methods of an objects. Get-Process | Get-Member
Get-PSDrive Lists all the PowerShell drives in the current session – FileSystem, Functions, Alias, etc. Get-PSDrive

Note: I have not included the percent symbol (%) or the question mark (?) on purpose. They are most commonly used as aliases for other commands, and that is beyond the scope of this post.