3 Punctuation Marks to Incorporate Into Your Writing Today

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3 Punctuation Marks to Incorporate Into Your Writing Today

Post by longknife » February 2nd, 2014, 7:36 pm

Posted: 01/31/2014 on HuffPost

Most people don't spend much time thinking about punctuation. We're not most people. When properly used, punctuation can enhance the rhythm of your writing or change its meaning entirely. And yet too many people rely on a scant handful of marks to express themselves.

As a writer, I enjoyed this piece. It also happens to include my favorite one – the em dash. Read it and some links @ http://www.huffingtonpost.com/grammarly ... 02255.html
Drop by Father Serra's Legacy http://msgdaleday.blogspot.com. Comments always eagerly awaited - but only if you find the item interesting enough to respond to.

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Re: 3 Punctuation Marks to Incorporate Into Your Writing Today

Post by polymath » February 3rd, 2014, 12:46 am

A couple of misplaced commas in the blog post and missing the fourth more artful punctuation mark: the colon. Ellipsis points--not per se an ellipsis, but points marking the rhetorical figure of ellipsis--are easily and frequently overused, misused, and abused. My ranking for artful punctuation after commas, periods, and question marks is em dash, semicolon, colon. Ellipsis points I give as much value as exclamation marks. The blog post advises on formal writing punctuation principles but not creative writing punctuation principles.

Uses of the comma are manifold, more than thirty distinguishable uses, as many as a hundred uses in exacting principle details. Check a grammar handbook and style manual for discerning guidance in those regards, for periods and question marks too.

The glorious em dash, though, is for parenthetical commentary (asides, for example), for marking interruptions or changes in thought direction, for signaling broken or faltering speech or thought. Many writers throw in an ellipsis point flurry off the cuff instead of using the more suitable em dash.

Semicolons, yes, as the blog notes, are for splicing related independent clauses onto each other in compound sentences. They are also used for the tricolon rhetorical figure of speech; e.g.: Vini; vidi; vici, meaning I came; I saw; I conquered. The traditional translation is a loose tricolon, though. A regular tricolon translation of Julius Caesar's famous quote is I came; I saw; I won. Semicolons also are dividers for the rhetorical figure synchrisis. "It was the best of times; it was the worst of times. . . ."

Ellipsis points, as prescriptively used above, signal omitted content that is easily understood. They may also signal trailed off speech or thought, They are sometimes used to signal broken or faltering speech or thought; however, an em dash is indicated for the latter.

The em dash in Standard Manuscript Format is usually typed as two hyphens without space brackets; i.e., Wait--what did she yell?

Word or WordPerfect left in default settings will substitute an em dash for a typed double hyphen followed by a space. Precedent is changing SMF em dash to space brackets; however, that is an in-house publishing design discretion for Standard Publication Format. Same with ellipsis points. Word and WordPerfect will change three typed periods into a single ellipsis point glyph. A problem there is the glyph might cause layout glitches in publication softwares, like substituting a question mark for an unrecognized glyph.

Semicolons are also used to precede terms like however. for example, that is, and abbreviations that fulfill the same function as for example: i.e.and e.g. Examples:

Martin said he was shopping; however, he was sleeping.
Eight different parts of speech make up all top hierarchy word categories; for example, verb, noun, pronoun, adverb, adjective, preposition, article, interjection.
Once an irony is fully realized, it is considered stable; that is, its meanings are no longer subject to doubt or other interpretations.
Let's call the creature whatever we like; e.g., I like monster.

Many writers recognize semicolon and colon use signal progressively larger divisions when internal commas signal smaller divisions. Not as many writers recognize semicolons or colons may also signal "as follows." Nor that a colon may signal a serial list, a summary, an explanation, the final of a series of appositive clauses for strong emphasis, or to introduce a formal or long quote.

Noah Lukeman's The Art of Punctuation is a gold standard text for prose punctuation principles.
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Re: 3 Punctuation Marks to Incorporate Into Your Writing Today

Post by LizV » February 7th, 2014, 3:51 pm

"The semicolon isn't exactly obscure, but how often do you actually use it in everyday writing?" Um, all the freaking time? If I get through this comment without one, it'll be a miracle.

The article is worth reading just for the link to The Oatmeal; I may have to get the semicolon poster. (And yes, there it is!) ;)

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