Punctuation. Punctuation! Punctuation?
Today, September 24, is National Punctuation Day. It’s a day dedicated to “the lowly comma, correctly used punctuation marks”, etc. Although their website has a dated look, the message is so true. Why am I so hung up on punctuation?
Punctuation has gotten a bad reputation. It’s the thing that most people think is too hard to do correctly, or that it doesn’t matter, anyway, since no one knows how to do it. Whole non-English languages don’t even use it (I’m looking at you, Thai).
But punctuation is critically important for writing in English, like I do. It is the lines on the road and traffic signs that guide readers through what you intended to say. If you abuse punctuation, at best you look ignorant. Somewhat worse, you might obscure your meaning. At worst, you can actually say the opposite of what you mean and make things completely wrong.
A few examples: