Paying Attention to Punctuation


Friday, Sept. 24, is National Punctuation Day. It is a day when sticklers for grammar and those who appreciate precision in the written word celebrate proper punctuation and how to use it.

The most commonly used punctuation marks in the English language are the period, the exclamation point and the question mark.

“I would say punctuation is very important because we use it to rhetorically emphasize certain ideas in our sentences,” said Associate Professor of English Brennan Thomas. “I do think people should know basic punctuation rules, but not in the matter of correctness.

“I think they should know them as communication tools.”

Troubadour Editor and staff member at the SFU Writing Center Scott Riner said there is plenty of room for improvement on punctuation skills within our University community. And his family.

“There are way too many people who know nothing about punctuation,” said Riner. “My brother called an apostrophe an ‘above comma’ once.

“If people knew how to use punctuation marks, everyone would be less confused.”

Regarding the importance of using proper punctuation in text messages, people hold differences of opinion.

Thomas said she uses proper punctuation in text messages, including dashes and semicolons.

“I often use them for rhetorical effect,” said Thomas, who serves as Director of the Writing Center. “I show that two ideas are linked with a semicolon, or I might use a dash for rhetorical emphasis.”

Riner does not see the need for great attention to be paid to punctuation in text communication.

“I don’t use punctuation in texts because it makes the texts sound aggressive,” said the senior English major.

“If you were to text ‘yes’ with a period, that would sound threatening.”