Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Things That I Detest: Misuse of Punctuation Mark's

I hope you understood the pun in the title. If you didn’t notice it, then get off my page and go and read Eats, Shoots and Leaves – it’s a really good book. I am what is commonly known as a ‘Punctuation Nazi’ which means (according rather crudely to Urban Dictionary) – ‘a person obsessed with proper grammar, punctuation and spelling, and bitches to people who don’t use proper grammar, punctuation and spelling.’

I hate it when people misuse punctuation – I have a little 6th sense that goes off like a siren when I see an apostrophe out of place. And although I say this, I admit to often making grammatical mistakes in my writing – nobody is innocent!

A funny example I saw recently was: “Let's eat, Grandpa!” opposed to (yes, you guessed it) “Let's eat Grandpa!” with a funny caption underneath that read: ‘Punctuation saves lives.’ And it's true… It also saves people from ‘helping jack off a horse’. So when should we use commas? Well here are the most common rules:

- To separate elements in a series (he jumped over the wall, kicked the gnome, and ran).
- Use of a comma and a conjunction to connect independent clauses (he jumped over the wall, but then he kicked the gnome).
- Use of comma to set off introductory elements (walking round the corner, he realised he was late).
- To set off different parts of the sentence i.e. parts which can be removed without changing the meaning (the man, who was very old, smiled).
- To separate a list of adjectives where ‘and’ could be used (he was a tall, handsome fellow).
- To introduce a quote (he writes, “To be or not to be…”).
- To set off phrases that introduce a contrast (the girl was pretty, but she had a big nose).
- To avoid confusion.
- Between towns and counties or months and years (June, 1996).

Right, well that was tiring… I’m off to bed now. One really should know and understand all the above rules – if not, you need some basic English lessons.

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