Punctuate the Point with Proper Punctuation!

punctuation

Source: Google Images/grammarly.com

Clothes may make the man but proper punctuation makes a good writer. I’ve posted often of the grammatical irks that raise my ire. Yet the folks who regularly annoy me are exactly the folks (including nightly newscasters who shall remain unnamed) who don’t read my blog or any other grammar-focused posts. It appears they are content with being perceived as unintelligent, unprofessional and/or uncredible (yes, incredibly, it’s a word, I looked it up).

So here are a few pointers I do hope you’ll pass along to someone in dire need of a good grammatical lesson (hmmm, almost everyone online…):

  1. Please STOP using apostrophes to make a word, abbreviation or date/time plural. It’s 1950s not 1950’s. It’s MDs not MD’s. Inserting an inappropriate apostrophe makes the word possessive (i.e., ownership). Another correct use is for shortening certain words: have not becomes haven’tis not becomes isn’twill not becomes won’t. Get it? Do the ayes (not aye’s) have it? Good.
  2. Speaking of which – STOP using the apostrophe version of its (it’s) when needing a neutral pronoun: The book fell over on its side. I’ve read too many online articles where the writer has not edited the work for errors and this careless mistake is one I see often.
  3. Some writers sprinkle too many commas into their words, like shaking salt on a pizza until it’s covered.
    1. There are seven appropriate way to use a comma:
      1. 1) in dates, addresses, titles, and numbers;
      2. 2) between two clauses;
      3. 3) following an introductory clause;
      4. 4) before and after a clause not essential to the sentence;
      5. 5) before and after a nonessential description;
      6. 6) follows a name of someone you address directly; and
      7. 7) after each item in a sentence (list).
  4. Using semicolons like commas – I’m definitely guilty of this one. They, too, have their appropriate place in a sentence:
    1. 1) to join two separate but closely related sentences, especially when the second sentence begins with words like “furthermore,” “besides,” “however,” “therefore,” or “for instance.”
    2. 2) in place of a comma in a long list of items, especially if the comma has been used in the sentence prior to the list. 
  5. Dash or hyphen? A hyphen joins two words together while a dash (see use in #4) separates words in parenthetical statements. No space around a hyphen but space on either side of a dash. Have I just “dashed” your grammatical skills? Oops…

“Do not use semicolons … All they do is show you’ve been to college.” – Kurt Vonnegut

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