on punctuation

I pay careful attention to my grammar and punctuation here. I know that my blog is not error-free, but as my friend Tahoe Mom says, everyone needs an editor. Unfortunately, this individual blogger doesn’t have access to an editor. Still, I do my best.

Lately I have been thinking more than usual about punctuation. In particular there are three punctuation marks to which I pay particular attention: commas, explanation points, and semicolons.

  • Commas — There was a time when I overused commas. I don’t believe I do so as much anymore. I do take care to remove commas that on second reading seem unnecessary.
  • Exclamation Points — I am strict in limiting my use of exclamation points. I never allow more than one exclamation point in a paragraph, and for the most part, only one exclamation point per blog entry.
  • Semicolons — Semicolons are tough. I rarely use them. American grammar dictates that semicolons link two independent clauses. (So the section on semicolons in Eats, Shoots and Leaves really grated on me, because British grammar allows a semicolon to separate a dependent clause and a related dependent clause.) It’s very rare in my writing that I find two independent clauses that are so closely related that they merit a semicolon. My rule is: when in doubt create two separate sentences. Which is almost always.

Those are my personal random thoughts on punctuation. That and $3.25 will get you a personal grande decaf cappuccino, dry. (I miss you Boston Pobble!)

3 Comments on “on punctuation”

  1. paloma mansfield says:

    Punctuation, hat elusive lady…I love the book Eats, Shoots and Leaves. In doubt I leave my breathing be the guide…Not fool-proof of-course. What really irks me is the lack of punctuation. So many people do not use it at all.

  2. I’m a huge fan of the semicolon. Commas, on the other hand, kick my butt regularly. I am the queen of the comma splice, even as I hate it. Fortunately or unfortunately, the company I write for right now has a no semicolon policy and encourages comma splices. It hurts my brain (but their checks don’t bounce).

    And thanks for the shout out. Sometimes, I miss blogging.

    • Good hearing from you, Boston Pobble! I can appreciate that an employer which encourages comma splices would hurt your brain. But checks not bouncing is a Good Thing. One day I will actually work up the nerve to use a semicolon in public.

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