National Punctuation Day

If you’re wondering what all the hyp-hen is about, well, it’s National Punctuation Day and to top it off we are celebrating it’s 10th anniversary! In honor of this day we are highlighting four common misused punctuations and sharing examples of how to properly use these in sentences.

Don’t worry, even authors and publishers need to be reminded of how to use punctuations so you can admit to your friends that your punctuation skills were refreshed on National Punctuation Day.

(How many punctuation or grammar errors did you catch in that paragraph? If you’re not sure, read on and then come back to confirm).

1. Apostrophe’s or Apostrophes?

One huge challenge when using this punctuation is converting a singular noun to a possessive. In order to convert a singular noun to a possessive you need to add an apostrophe and then an s (Jason’s Juice or the teacher’s apple). Also consider the possessive form (that’s) and certain contractions (it’s, let’s) when writing your material: It’s Jason over there drinking the juice = It is Jason over there drinking the juice.

You can omit the apostrophe for possessives of most plural nouns. For instance, “All of the authors’ books were interesting today” (the books belonging to the authors). However, if the plural word does not end in an -s then add an apostrophe plus an -s. For example, “The men’s football was flat” (the football belonging to the men).

Also, do not use an apostrophe with possessive pronouns. Since possessive pronouns already show the ownership, there is no need to add an apostrophe.

Here are some possessive pronouns to consider:

  • yours
  • ours
  • theirs
  • his
  • hers

*Remember, do not misuse the contraction it’s (it is) for the possessive pronoun its. For example, “It’s the first day of school” compared to “The book is placed on its shelf.”

2. Colon: and Semicolon;

This punctuation is used to connect two separate clauses. A good way to remember you need to use the colon (:) is when the second clause expands or explains the first clause. The semicolon (;) is then used to connect the clauses, but not continue the thought. This punctuation can also be used in place of commons to separate items on a list.

For example: We traveled to several cities last month and met some great people along the way, including: Juan, from Texas; Teresa from Arizona; Shelly from Nevada; Mark from New York and Tracy from California.

3. “Quotation Marks”

This punctuation error can be easily avoided if you remember periods and commons go inside the quotation marks, even if they are not a part of the quote. Any other punctuation marks will go outside of these quotation marks, unless they are a part of the material being quoted.

Use double quotation marks to set off a direct (word-for-word) quotation. “When will you be here?” he asked. Also, take into consideration quotation marks are often used with technical terms, terms used in an unusual way, or other expressions that vary from standard usage. For example, She had to visit her “friend” the tax man. As always remember periods and commas always go inside quotation marks,The sign said, “Don’t Walk.” Then it turned quickly saying, “Walk,” so I told my brother, “We need to walk now.”

4. Comma’s or Commas?

Use commas to separate items in a series or words, phrases and subordinate clauses and short independent clauses in a series. For example: The author, the editor and the sponsor will all be at the bookstore today for the signing. *In this sentence notice we did not use a comma before the conjunction word. However, you will use a comma before a conjunction to avoid confusion with series of long phrases.

This punctuation is also used to indicate nonessential information. As you write down a thought think of what can be omitted from the sentence without changing the general meaning, these words can then be set off with commas. (My mother will pickup the peaches today, even though she doesn’t like fruit, and I will pick up the milk.) The mom not liking fruit has nothing to do with her picking up peaches or picking up milk, so this can be omitted.

If you still want verification that your punctuation is correct, try using the online grammar tools or asking friends and family to review and make their own edits. It’s always best to have more than two eyes checking and rechecking before publishing your content.

Now, test your skills and check this blog for punctuation errors then tweet us your results using #NPDonSoW or share the results with friend on the Speaking of Wealth Facebook page because after all, it’s National Punctuation Day!!!

photo credit: quinn.anya via photopin cc