Punctual for National Punctuation Day
May I have your attention, please?
This is big. Huge, in fact. It’s National Punctuation Day, and copy editors and grammar nerds across our country are urging you to get it together by properly punctuating your text messages and emails so we can read them better. There are other ways to celebrate this most important holiday, and I have included some tips (borrowed from www.nationaldaycalendar.com).
- Spend the day critiquing others’ mistakes. Or, carefully correct your own.
- Determine which of your contracts for insurance, warranties, or service have a misplaced comma that might be to your benefit.
- To avoid punctuation altogether, just complete crossword puzzles all day. They don’t use any punctuation.
- Write an error-free email and send it to everyone you know. Better yet, write an email with a single error and challenge your friends to find it.
- Open up a debate about the Oxford comma online. It may get as heated as a political debate.
- Try using every type of punctuation throughout the day.
Let’s go over some basics. The semicolon, for instance. It is used to join two independent clauses without using a conjunction like and.
Example: Lisa loves to correct grammar; she’s known for her snarky remarks when one has a grammatical error.
See how those two independent clauses (meaning subject and verb) were joined, and no conjunction was used? Isn’t it beautiful?
Colons are trickier for people. Grammarly defines the need for the colon as “an element or series of elements that illustrates or amplifies the information that preceded the colon. While a semicolon normally joins two independent clauses to signal a close connection between them, a colon does the job of directing you to the information following it.” That’s a wordy way of saying, “only use a colon if you have a list that follows.” When a colon appears in a sentence, it usually gives the indication of “as follows,” “which is/are,” or “thus.”
Example: Lisa has some grammar pet peeves: unnecessary apostrophes, misplaced modifiers and the it’s/its debacle.
Quotation marks. Sheesh, you people and the quotation marks. Let me just say it as peacefully as I can. DON’T USE THEM UNLESS YOU ARE QUOTING SOMEONE OR SOMETHING.
Example: Lisa loves it when we call those Hogs; she loves the “woo pig sooie” that is yelled throughout the stadium.
Commas. That’s another one where you people think that everytime a comma is used an angel gets its wings. Never put one between a subject and verb. Here are the Eight Commandments of Comma use:
- Use a comma to separate independent clauses.
- Use a comma after an introductory clause or phrase.
- Use a comma between all items in a series.
- Use commas to set off nonrestrictive clauses.
- Use a comma to set off appositives.
- Use a comma to indicate direct address.
- Use commas to set off direct quotations.
And finally, exclamation marks. Total pet peeve. Don’t use them unless you are yelling. The end! (tee hee) And for sure, don’t use more than one.
Lisa Fischer is the copy editor of all publications that are published here at AY Media Group. If you find an error in this, please contact her directly.