Say this in your head: “Yes.”
Now try this: “Yes?”
Hear the difference? What about this: “Yes!”
Or even this: “Yes…”
That’s the magic of punctuation.
Punctuation serves a very important purpose: to help convey meaning and ensure understanding. You can see this in as short as a one-word sentence. With a simple change in punctuation, you can convey certainty, uncertainty, excitement or hesitation. And by knowing what those punctuation marks mean, your reader understands.
Just as proper punctuation helps convey meaning, improper punctuation (or a lack of punctuation altogether) can send a message that isn’t at all the one intended.
Try this one: “Let’s eat children!”
Probably not the intended message, unless the speaker is from a family of cannibals. “Let’s eat, children!” is likely the intended message; it’s the comma that makes all the difference. Make sure you put it in where it belongs!
And oh, did you notice that tricky little semicolon above? People hate semicolons. But we believe it’s more out of a fear of the unknown than anything else. That’s why, more and more, those three cute little ellipsis points seem to be replacing the semicolon. They’re less formal, just like the world we live in.
We could have said this: “‘Let’s eat, children!’ is likely the intended message… it’s the comma that makes all the difference.”
And that’s the fun of punctuation. Yes, there are rules. And yes, we should follow them. But the English language is fluid too, and ever-changing. Which sometimes means breaking the rules. (Like using sentence fragments to make a point.)
Our goal is to make sure your intended message gets across in the most effective way possible.
Will you contact us if you need some help?