By the Dots
We all have strange relationships with punctuation — do you overuse exclamation marks? Do you avoid semicolons like the plague? What type of punctuation could you never live without? Tell us all about your punctuation quirks!
Come on. I was an English teacher for years. I love punctuation, and I don’t have any favorites. Every mark is useful. So can I tell you what I dislike? It’ll be more fun!
I dislike excessive exclamation points !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! One is enough. Two is overkill. More than that is just silly.
Improper use of commas drives me nuts. I used to tell my students, “I think you all just throw a handful of commas at your paper, hoping a couple of them will land in the right places.” Seriously. There are rules for commas. I finally developed a system by which the students were required to look up the rule for every circled grammatical error in a paper. It was amazing how quickly their punctuation improved. When you have to look up the same rule fifty-eleven times, you get to know it pretty well.
Quotation marks. Here’s an example a friend sent me, knowing that we share the same humor. A newspaper article stated: The senators and their “wives” attended the function. Really? Using the quotes would indicate that the women weren’t, in actual fact, their wives. Why on earth did the writer do that? And why didn’t a proofreader catch it?
Dashes. Way too many in some writers’ work. I remember reading a silly book years ago by a famous romance writer who loved pink. Her silly heroine was always speaking in wispy, dash-filled sentences. “Oh, Fabian—-I mean—-you–you’re just so—-fabulous!” Blech. Dumb. If she was really that breathless, she must have been asthamatic. Someone please send her an inhaler.
I never read another one of those formula stories.
Apostrophe’s. Apostrophes.’ Periods, by the way, always go inside the apostrophe or the quotation mark. Always. No exceptions. Look. “Isn’t it a beautiful day”. Just doesn’t look right. “Isn’t it a beautiful day.” Much better. And it’s “apostrophes.” No apostrophe. You don’t need an apostrophe to make something plural. Ever. Only to make it possessive, or to create a contraction.
So which is correct: The cat licked it’s paw. The cat licked its’ paw. The cat licked its paw.
Right, the third one. The first would be “the cat licked it is paw.” The second just doesn’t make sense, because “its” is already possessive. You don’t need the apostrophe.
And I can see that your eyes are crossing from “shear” boredom—-so sorry——I dont want to bore you out of “you’re” skulls 🙂
P.S. An interrobang is a combined exclamation/question mark: