Choice Words

Punctuation: The Difference Between…

Let’s eat grandma!
Let’s eat, grandma!

We’re going to cut and paste, kids.
We’re going to cut and paste kids.
Were going to cut and paste kids.

Your shit.
You’re shit.
(Your, You’re; They’re, Their, There)

I like eating my family and my dog.
I like eating, my family, and my dog.
We met the strippers, a frog and Channing Tatum.
We met the strippers, a frog, and Channing Tatum.
(Oxford Comma > no Oxford Comma)

Periods and question marks are probably the most well known and properly used forms of punctuation. What about the exclamation point, you ask? I didn’t include it in that sentence, because the indicator of emphasis is frequently overdone, or used inappropriately. I could have started that sentence/thought with a No! but that would have been too abrupt for my serence explanation. And please, the exclamation point is in existence to indicate an exclamatory sentence or command – just one is needed.

Commas are commonly problematic. The simple explanation is to use a comma whenever you feel the need for a pause in a sentence. But, this could be, extremely subjective, and, therefore, you fall into the trap of, comma overuse. Another comma troublemaker: the comma splice. “I like binge watching late night shows, they are on too late for me to function early the next morning. Those comma splices will severely inhibit your readers’ understanding and tolerance of you as a person.

Comma splices can, most of the time, be fixed with the comma’s close relative, the semicolon. “I like binge watching late night shows; they are on too late for me to function early the next day.” A simple way to remember when it is appropriate to use semicolons: they can replace periods in between two closely related independent clauses (like I exhibited above). However, don’t overuse them, and in many cases, those independent clauses can be connected with a coordinating conjunction or by making them two sentences.
*Semicolons should not be confused with the punctuation mark that is the colon: a list starter or a clause explainer.

Apostrophe problems baffle me to no end. Plural possessives are tricky, so I’ll excuse many people who use an apostrophe incorrectly in those situations. But seriously, an apostrophe indicates a contraction or shows possession. “The dog’s bone was buried.” “The dogs’ buried their bones.” “They’re digging up their bones.” “My mom’s patience has run out.”

I know I’m leaving out parenthesis, dashes, brackets, and more out of this explanation. They deserve credit for assisting sentences and writing, but the above are examples of what is at the core of punctuation knowledge. So get them right. On social media, in texts, emails, and correspondence; punctuation exists because it’s important.

What punctuation woes have you experienced or worked through? Share below in the comments! (!!!!!!!!!)


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