Punctuation creates the structure of sentence, it’s like a seasoning to the food, – too scarce and the article is tasteless, too much and it’s ruined. Punctuation is not a nonsensical set of boring rules we need to learn in school it is essential element for every article writing that helps to accentuate the meaning and create contrasts in perception. When punctuation was first introduced in the ancient Greece it came in the form of STREAMOFLETTERSINUPPERCASE but with a time flow it evolved to the set of rules where tree dots were placed at the top, middle or bottom of text, prompting the reader the moments when they should have been taking the long breath in and pause for a moment.
Languages didn’t always have punctuation, in fact many of Asian and African languages existed without punctuation marks a long time and Sanskrit was the only language that didn’t need punctuation at all because of it’s grouping and packaging properties.
Could Care Less: How Punctuation Marks Treated Today
Modern statistics shows that 45-minute grammar test held among 11-year old pupils at more than 16,000 primary schools offers quite sad results for consideration. More than a quarter – namely 26% failed the basic test.
With almost equivalent tests results in colleges it’s easily predictable that punctuation marks are not just ignored and forgotten – they’re borderline extinct, especially when it comes to semicolon and semicolon usage.
Exclamation points are in decline as well, although their number has been relatively stable since about 1960 despite many literary pundits advocating the extermination of these frightening creatures. Commas, the farm animals of punctuation, have declined somewhat, but they still roam every book in the thousands.
The diversity of punctuation, however, has really increased over the past decades as illustrated on the picture.
A New-Wave Punctuation Check: Meet the Logical Punctuation
Recently the world has witnessed the appearance of new individual kind of punctuation regulation. In such so-called logical punctuation, the orientation of quotation marks is regulated not by the rules but rather meaning and structure of the sentence. So for instance, when in regular rules commas always 100% go inside the quotation marks, in logical punctuation they never do unless they’re part of the quote.
Who uses such approach?
- The Guardian Style Guide
- Computer Coders
- Informal writers (bloggers, facebookers, etc.)
- Linguistic Society of America
Self-Check on Deadly Mistakes
Periods misplace. Look if you have placed the periods after the quotation marks. After we drunk, Cameron explicitly told me “not to drive the car“.
Periods after the common acronyms:
Period instead of ellipses. When I think too hard I begin to drift away to the land of pretty pink unicorns…..
Periods inside parenthesis (hint – they should be outside). When Patty left school, she said she didn’t feel like studying (but she know she had to.)
Commas connecting independent clauses. Spartacus wanted to pull the chariot by his teeth, he could have proven to her just how manly he was.
Oxford comma missing. With gratitude, I dedicate this song to my dearest parents, Lucy and Ron.
Commas in years and months. It was September, 1996 when Sean glued his back to the chair; it’s been a long thirty years since.
Hyphens missing in compound adjectives. When Sandy was twenty one year-old she partied like there was no tomorrow.
Missing hyphens in confusing words. Dorothy was mad to find out someone was wearing the same dress when she decided to resign (re-sign).
Hyphens instead of em dashes. Calm Carie – the girl we swore wouldn’t do anything mean to anybody – totally messed up the whole prom.
Colons before lists. When she was asked about her favorite things in life she proudly replied: the horror movies, giant cupcakes and various weirdos.
Colons after headings:
- Date of birth:
- Date of marriage:
- Date of death:
Commas substituting colons in headings. I’m excited to see Professor’s compelling and utterly exciting presentation, “The life cycle of Mitochondria”, on Saturday.
Semicolons instead of colons. I only like 3 kinds of food: pizza, pizza and pizza.
Semicolon instead of a comma. Nancy styles her hair in simple and traditional ways: iroquoises; dreads; and braids.
Missing semicolons in complicated sentences. Grandma’s crazy trip to the market took us all over the country: Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Chicago, and Portland, Oregon.
Highlighting quotation marks. The lunch we were served at the cafeteria was exceptionally “fresh”.
Quotation marks instead of italics. Henrietta lived a full life; she sailed in the “Titanic”, she read all of the “Great Gatsby” and even starred in the “Friends” episode before her death.
A quote within a quote quotation marks. Jimbo recounted the story perfectly: “Mary-Lou was all up in arms when she said, “You double-dipped!” and then begun ranting about how “nasty” that was.
Possessive pronouns apostrophes. It’s grammar book, don’t give it to your dog or it’ll get smarter than you.
Apostrophes in plural last names. I don’t know where to go there’s a wedding at Jonson’s and the birthday party at Murphys’.
Apostrophes after “S” on plural nouns. Don’t eat it, it’s the dogs’ food.
Apostrophes in years and abbreviations. In that clothes, you look like you’ve been transferred straight from 1990’s.
Free Online Helping Tools
Remember, the easiest way to avoid the punctuation mistake when you don’t know or not sure exactly how it needs to be written – transformed the sentence and rewrite it the other way, like they say the best way for problem solving is avoiding. Mistakes checking and proofreading is considered to be the hardest part of the article writing as it needs more attention to details that’s why it’s so useful to get a proper punctuation checker. There are dozens of online grammar checkers and tools able to correct your punctuation, and here are the most useful and popular:
1. Grammarly. No chance you didn’t hear of that one, Grammarly is capable of spotting more that 250 errors that MS Word can’t handle.
2. Whitesmoke. A serious competitor to Grammarly, this tool has an artificial intelligence algorithm that spots the mistakes, suggests the multiple solution variants and even provides you with grammar tips.
3. Ginger. Quite popular among bloggers and writers this small web tool helps you to check your semicolons, comma splices and other grammar issues based on the context.
Even the greatest content can be ruined with lack or excessive punctuation, the demanding reader can dismiss the most valuable content pieces just because of punctuation issues and it inevitably will affect your image and reputation that’s why it is so important to keep working on your content no matter how much time it takes.