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Punctuation Makes All the Difference

September 22, 2016 | Did You Know

College student texting on mobile phone

Its National Punctuation Day.
It’s National Punctuation Day!
It’s National…Punctuation Day.
It’s National, Punctuation Day.

Did you guess which one’s correct? National Punctuation Day, celebrated on September 24, is the one day we pause to celebrate the use of punctuation marks we often take for granted such as the comma, quotation marks, period, semicolons, and the ever-mysterious ellipsis.

In the midst of taking notes, writing assignments, cramming for exams, texting or tweeting, we often don’t give much consideration to the use of punctuations as long as we get the spelling right. A recent study found that only 39 percent of college students punctuate the end of texts and 45 percent the end of instant messages. Words, by themselves, are powerful but we forget how the use, or lack of punctuation, changes the meaning and effect of what we write.

Take for instance, the use of the comma. Often ignored, a comma can completely change the context of what is said:

“Let’s eat Brianna.”
“Let’s eat, Brianna.”

The first sentence makes you think Brianna is the meal, while the correct sentence, indicates an invitation for Brianna to eat, not be eaten.

While our challenge is often omitting the comma, in many other instances we make common mistakes with punctuations like apostrophes because we simply don’t know the difference and unfortunately, sometimes spell check doesn’t either.

Common errors include the confusion between the possessive its and its contraction it’s:

The dog wagged it’s tail.
The dog wagged its tail.

Remember, contractions are not ownership. They are formed when apostrophe replaces a letter in two words. How about the way we choose to punctuate a sentence?

She loves me.
versus
She loves me!
versus
She loves me?

Can you imagine John’s frustration if he’s not sure whether Gloria knows the correct use of punctuation. Talk about a dilemma.

Today, your challenge is simple: practice using punctuation correctly. Let us know if you spot funny posts or memes using incorrect punctuation marks by tweeting @BrowardCollege or tag us on Facebook.

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