Grammar for the People: punctuation I

Grammar for the People2We have determined that it only takes two seconds to capitalize letters at the start of each typed sentence. Adding punctuation to the end of each sentence also only takes two seconds to do. Here are the options you have to perfectly punctuate your writing and reform your lazy ways.

Periods

Periods are elementary. They are used to indicate the end of a statement. Statements are telling sentences. Think of statements as whole thoughts. Once you’ve written a whole thought that tells someone something, stick a period at the end to show everyone that it is the end.

Sometimes people end sentences with a string of periods, as though doing so makes the statement more telling. This is false. However, a string of three periods (no more; no fewer) is called an ellipsis. (Microsoft Word automatically formats these for you with nifty spacing and everything!) Ellipses serve a different purpose than periods. Ellipses either indicate that words have been omitted (like in quotations) or that thoughts are unfinished. For those of you who like to leave every thought posted to Facebook or Instagram unfinished, you might want to reconsider how frequently you use these…

Exclamation marks

Exclamation marks have a straightforward use at the end of a sentence: they show jovial exclamation. Don’t use these for boring telling sentences. “I ate ice cream” is only an exclamation if one has never eaten ice cream before. That’s not you. Adding more than one exclamation mark doesn’t up the excitement any. Use them well and use them sparingly and one will be plenty.

Question marks

When you ask a question, put a question mark at the end. It shows you expect a response. Questions also start with question words like who, what, when, where, why, and do.

question mark

A lot of sentences might begin with question words and not end with question marks. Don’t assume that your recipient will respond just because you have a question word at the beginning. I accidentally sent a text like this to my sister the other day. My fingers were going much faster than my brain, and before I knew it, I’d sent my question without a question mark. It would have only taken two seconds to punctuate. I was so ashamed. My sister was gracious enough to respond despite my faux pas. Your recipients might not be. Learn from my mistakes.

Periods, exclamation marks, and question marks each serve a particular purpose and are the most common ways to close your sentences. Using them correctly strengthens your sentences without adding any more words.

Grammar for the People: punctuation was only going to be one post but it got a little bit long. Like 1,000 words long. So I divided it into Punctuation I and Punctuation II. Punctuation II is all about punctuation that’s used in sentences and between sentences, and it will be posted next week.

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