What are we grateful for? Commas.
With Thanksgiving just around the corner, the Grammarly team polled more than 1,700 Facebook fans on what piece of punctuation they are most “thankful” for in their writing.
The semi-colon, em-dash, and period, were top contenders; yet, overwhelmingly we learned that English writers are most thankful for the comma.
Although writers enjoy the comma, many do not know how to use it. Misuse of commas is among the top grammar mistakes that writers around the world are making, according to a recent audit of English writers conducted by the Grammarly team. And there are many ways to misuse a comma:
- Not including a comma before a coordinating conjunction (makes up 43 percent of all comma mistakes among Grammarly users)
- Comma misuse in an introductory phrase (8 percent of comma mistakes)
- Comma misuse inside a compound subject (7 percent of comma mistakes)
- Comma misuse around interrupters (6 percent of comma mistakes)
There are 28 different types of comma mistakes that English writers can make. Yet, not including a comma before a coordinating conjunction—and, but, for, nor, or, so, yet—is six times more common than any other!
Which punctuation mark are you most “thankful” for in your writing?
Throughout this week, we are running a poll on our Facebook page. With Thanksgiving Day coming up in the U.S.A., we want to know which punctuation marks our followers most appreciate when writing. Let us know what you think by visiting the poll on our Facebook page.
An oldie, but a goody.
”I’ll have that chalk, thank you.”
Like the comma, the apostrophe wields amazing power. The talented little dot-and-tail combination (though written at the top of the line, not at the bottom like the comma) can change pronouns to verbs, tell you who owns what, replace a small handful of letters, and make plurals. It comes from the Greek words meaning to turn from or omission.
After commas, apostrophes seem to be the most misused punctuation mark; grammar vigilantes have their work cut out for them.
Earlier, we wrote about how apostrophes are used. Check out that post here.
More quotes on Exclamation Marks
- In the family of punctuation, where the full stop is daddy and the comma is mummy, and the semicolon quietly practises the piano with crossed hands, the exclamation mark is the big attention-deficit brother who gets overexcited and breaks things and laughs too loudly. ~Lynne Truss
- An excessive use of exclamation marks is a certain indication of an unpractised writer or of one who wants to add a spurious dash of sensation to something unsensational. ~H. W. Fowler
- So far as good writing goes, the use of the exclamation mark is a sign of failure. It is the literary equivalent of a man holding up a card reading ‘laughter’ to a studio audience. ~Miles Kingston
- Keep your exclamation points under control. You are allowed no more than two or three per 100,000 words of prose. If you have a knack of playing with exclaimers the way Tom Wolfe does, you can throw them in by the handful.~Elmore Leonard
- And all those exclamation marks, you notice? Five? A sure sign of someone who wears his underpants on his head. ~Terry Pratchett
From Writers Write
How do you use semicolons most?
This gem was sent in by a follower on Facebook.
A semicolon is a punctuation mark used to connect two thoughts or ideas which are somehow similar. Generally, each thought or idea could be used as its own sentence, but the flow of the work may be interrupted by the short, choppy sentences.
Semicolons are a little archaic and are not necessary in modern writing. Even in formal writing, they may be replaced by a comma or a period. However, if they are used properly, semicolons can add a pleasing continuity to your work.
When reading out loud, we pause for semicolons much the same way we pause for a comma.
Semicolons work like a soft period, separating the thoughts but keeping the flow of the first sentence.
I’m looking for my book; where do you suppose I put it?
Money is the root of all evil; I don’t believe the reverse is necessarily true.
Martha has gone to the library; Andrew has gone to play soccer.
Journalism has changed over the last hundred years; possibly, this change is for the better.
In creative writing, you can use a semicolon to connect multiple ideas which are expressed in independent clauses. The effect is very poetic: be sure you don’t use this in formal writing.
The woman was heartbreakingly beautiful; she was dark and stormy; she was utterly dangerous.
Semicolons can also be used to separate short clauses in a list after a colon has been used. This is done to clarify the ideas for the reader so they don’t get confused; this practice is particularly useful if the clauses have commas or other punctuation in them.
Please do the following assignments for homework: read pages 15-17 and 20-33 in your math text; finish the outline for your Canada: A Short History essay; finish readingThe Giver, but don’t start writing the essay yet.
I need the weather statistics for the following cities: London, England; London, Ontario; Paris, France; Paris, Ontario; Perth, Scotland; Perth, Ontario.
A semicolon should only be followed by a capital letter if the word is a proper noun or an acronym.
We can go to the museum to do some research; Mondays are pretty quiet there.
Let’s go to Europe; Paris is nice in the spring.