Punctuate

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!

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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: 

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/by-the-dots/

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14 thoughts on “Punctuate

    1. Well, yes, it can be a question; however, (note the use of a semicolon, subordinating conjuntion and comma) in this case it was meant to be an exclamation, which is entirely the writer’s privilege 🙂 I decided not to use an exclamation mark because it would have confused the point I was making about periods and commas. I can keep coming up with perfectly logical excuses. . .

  1. I was once called Queen Semicolon of the Church Newsletter.” I learned quickly! My cousin puts quotation marks around words in her greeting card messages that have no rhyme or reason. I’ve come to think of them as cat-pounces. There’s no rhyme or reason to those, either, except to the cat.

  2. Love your article! Especially the line, 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.” Somebody ought to make a cartoon using that line. (!!! 🙂 )

    I would take the same inference out ofsenators and their “wives” as you do. Sounds like the reporter is being tongue-in-cheek there.

    Of course, being a Canadian and thus following the English system, I can wiggle around the “all punctuation goes inside the quotation marks” rule because we have a few exceptions. Especially when it comes to “air quotes”. But if the writer’s a Yank or is submitting to a US publication, this is indeed so.

    1. Well, not really. Commas and periods always go inside the quotes. Question marks and exclamation points can go either way, depending upon how they are used. Example: Did you say, “I hate English”? is correct. So is “I hate English!”

      Just to confuse the matter 🙂

  3. Ronnie

    Probably my one and only true pet peeve in this area is multiple exclamation points! Putting multiples does not make your point stronger, it just makes you look childish, like dotting your it’s with little hearts.

  4. Ronnie

    Probably my one and only true pet peeve in this area is multiple exclamation points! Putting multiples does not make your point stronger, it just makes you look childish, like dotting your i’s with little hearts.

  5. Thanks for the information. That whole interrobang business would have bugged me all night (and you noticed I didn’t say would OF…oops. Ruined it with all those dots, didn’t I?) >implied smirkiness<

    1. I occured to me after I posted that not everyone may have heard of this proposed new punctuation mark. I’ll be interested to see if it ever shows up on our keyboards.

      It’s really been fun to see what you all are doing with punctuation today 🙂

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