Yesterday was a big day for those of us who notice and cringe at signs with extra or missing apostrophes.
If people suggest that makes you a nitpicker, tell them you have nothing on former newspaperman Jeff Rubin, the founder of National Punctuation Day.
Jeff started it as a “celebration of the lowly comma, correctly used quotes, and other proper uses of periods, semicolons, and the ever-mysterious ellipsis.”
Lest you think this is trivial, he points out:
“Casual shortcuts bred by e-mailing and text messaging have no place in school papers or professional business writing. In the business world, words have power and help decision-makers form impressions immediately. Careless punctuation mistakes cost time, money, and productivity.”
“It’s not the worst thing in the world if people don’t know how to properly use an apostrophe, but it does say something about them: that they don’t care to learn.”
Want some practice wielding your commas and your colons? Head over to E-WRITE’s 76 online opportunities to build your punctuation skills.
Meanwhile, Grammar Girl Mignon Fogarty held a punctuation contest and has been sharing the entries in her newsletter and podcast, including heartfelt odes to:
- the semicolon: “I am in love with your very essence, purpose. / You join two sentences, / Which are independent, and make / Them stronger by bringing them together”
- the ellipsis: “I was putting ellipses where a comma would suffice…ellipses when an em dash would do the trick…ellipses when a yadayadayada would convey the same idea.”
With that, go forth and use it’s in its proper place.
Love your link to E-Write. Word nerds can check out their amazing punctuation and word usage skills (and see where maybe some parts of their writing could use a tune-up!).
A great resource I tell my students to use is:
Happy Punctuation Day to you.
Les, that IS a great resource, thank you!
Love your post and Les’s grammar monster link.
However, I take issue with Jeff and his use of the serial or Oxford comma, as in “periods, semicolons, and the ever-mysterious ellipsis.â€
The comma after “semicolons” serves no purpose, so nuke it, I say.
Most amateurs overuse punctuation. So I think we should worry not only about incorrect punctuation,but also content that clutters up your copy unnecessarily. I really hate multiple exclamation points, though I know it often saddens clients when I remove them. My posts on commas and minimalist punctuation: http://barbsawyers.wordpress.com/2009/07/03/do-your-commas-help-or-hinder-your-readers/http://barbsawyers.wordpress.com/2009/07/09/more-about-minimalist-punctuation
Barb, I also disagree with Jeff’s use of the serial comma, but you could argue it’s a style thing rather than a right/wrong issue. Still, as you say, it could be considered unnecessary clutter. Good for you for removing multiple exclamation points!!! There aren’t (m)any occasions where they are necessary!!!