Wednesday, November 1, 2017

PUNCTUATION!? by Hannah Rowan

I can’t believe I failed to celebrate National Punctuation Day, which occurred in September.  I didn’t find out about it until late October.

Of course, the question becomes how a person would celebrate such an occasion.  I could go through a newspaper with a red pen, marking all the errors I find.  I could really have a field day on social media if I merely spent an entire day correcting everyone’s posts.

Not only would the social media approach make me unpopular, but the newspaper approach would highlight how old I am.  First, because who reads newspapers in actual print, on bona fide paper anymore?  Old people, that’s who! And secondly, because people on social media, like people who text, are more concerned with getting their message across than with the correctness of their commas and exclamation points.

Very often when I judge writing contests I have an urge to tell people to please pick up a basic grammar book.  I think they close their eyes and insert commas in random spots. But judges in romance writing contests are supposed to be kind.

It does seem that I find a lot more errors in printed material than I used to. It used to be quite an unusual occurrence to find a mistake in a printed book.  Now it seems fairly routine.

Really, punctuation is an arbitrary thing.  I don’t know who originally decided what is “correct.”  I imagine the definition of correctness will evolve along with language and usage, which is too bad for those of us who spent our formative years learning the proper placement of our periods and exclamation points. I wonder if it even matters anymore.

And I admit, I often resort to sentence fragments and being sentences with conjunctions, but that’s not punctuation, that’s grammar, which is an entirely different matter.

I wonder if there’s a holiday for that?


  1. I want the grammar holiday, too! And, what you mentioned about being more concerned with getting their point across--I just think that would work so much better if the message was legible. :-) Good post. Hope your knee's working great!

  2. I'm always disappointed to see punctuation and grammar errors on the news. Those ribbons across the bottom. Yesterday was it's and its in one sentence. Thing is, those ribbons of text are on for a long time. Surely someone re-reads them but they're never fixed.

    In Canada, we use exclamation marks not points.

  3. I'm with you Bonnie. If professional journalists can't get it right, does the general public have a hope?


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