Saturday, September 25, 2010

A Day Late and a Comma Short

Yesterday was National Punctuation Day.

The official website is In addition to providing information on the day itself, the site gives usage information on each mark.

My favorite punctuation marks are the semicolon (joining two independent clauses) and the em dash (setting apart parenthetical expressions). I like them because they allow me to write in a way that matches the way I speak. I have a tendency to make associations, and my "asides" often come in the middle of my sentences. I'm struck by the fact that these two marks are opposites. Hmmm . . .

In the course of my day job—or when reading the work of aspiring writers—the most common punctuation mistakes I see are:

Commas: Not every pause in a sentence requires a comma.
Misplaced Apostrophe: Don't use an apostrophe when making something plural.

Maybe I'm the only literary weirdo with favorite punctuation marks; maybe I'm not. In any case, Happy Belated National Punctuation Day!


  1. "Don't use an apostrophe when making something plural."

    THANK YOU! It never ceases to amaze me how often I see this mistake in writing by college students, professionals -- even teachers!! Ack!!

  2. I have a feeling one day, maybe in fifty or sixty years, it won't matter anymore. The apostrophe might be optional or correct in both cases.