THE BLOG
09/24/2014 10:28 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

National Punctuation Day: Make a Dash For It!

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Do you ever wonder what life would be like without punctuation?

Days would run into nights into months into years into centuries into millennia. It would be like having streets and avenues with no traffic lights. Summer clothes would be worn in winter and vice versa. Birds would never stop singing. People would be having breakfast for dinner. There would be mayhem in the mass media and blogosphere. Copy editors across the land would call it a "vacation day."

There would be no need for apostrophes ("), brackets)({[]}), colons (:), semi-colons (;), commas (,), dashes (--), periods (.), hyphens, slashes (/\), ellipsis... even exclamation points!!!

Everything would be a big blur. For example, take this paragraph:

Although most people are not punctual per se I cannot imagine life without punctuation Im not kidding Is it me or what Wait what is that noise Did you hear that Oh its nothing just my cat jumping off the counter No seriously what the heck was that Name of husband was that you Could you to see if the cat wants to go out What did you say

Punctuation is vital to disambiguate the meaning of sentences. I always remember these examples:

"I ate macaroni and cheese, and an apple for lunch."

"I ate macaroni, and cheese, and an apple for lunch."

What a difference a comma makes.

Or this:

"Do the laundry??" (With a double-question mark, this translates to, "Are you serious?")

"Do the laundry!" (With an exclamation point, this sounds like a rant that has no ambiguity at all, "Do your own !?#*! laundry.")

There is no question that punctuation creates, a sense of, order.

Every year, "National Punctuation Day" gives us a moment to stop... and to embrace the beauty of clarity. Learn where to add commas and the usage of three different brackets (() [] {}). Play around with punctuation [(.)(.)]. Become versed in the distinction between the use of a semicolon and a colon. Be dash-ful when necessary. Consider dropping in... an ellipsis. You can even go on an exclamation point frenzy!!!!

On September 24, don't be (reticent, shy or afraid [?]) to "clean up" your copy. Make your mark. Get set. Go.