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Punctuation

MURDER IN THE AIR! BEWARE THE SERIAL COMMA!

By DebJune 26, 2015in Punctuation1

Commas are constantly overused, underused, and misplaced.  In my opinion, commas are one of the most important punctuation marks we have!

Read these two sentences and notice the difference a comma makes:  Let’s eat grandma!  Let’s eat, grandma!  COMMAS SAVE LIVES!

Have you heard about the dreaded serial comma?  No, it’s not a serial killer, but it has been known to cause rifts between friends, co-workers and even countries.

The serial comma is very much in use in American English.  My go-to reference book, The Chicago Manual of Style, recommends using it.  In British English (think Canada) it is much less common.

The serial or series comma (also called the Oxford comma) is placed immediately before the final conjunction in a list of three or more items (usually and, or, nor).  The main argument against using the serial comma is, if the list contains only single words, leaving it out doesn’t change anything.

Here is a sentence where the serial comma definitely helps to keep the meaning clear:

I made a variety of sandwiches for the luncheon: egg salad, chicken salad, peanut butter and jelly, and ham and cheese.

What are your thoughts on the serial comma?  Do you use it in all your writing, or only when you feel it’s absolutely necessary?  Are you passionate about the serial comma, or do you just not care?  I want to hear what you have to say…

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WHAT IS YOUR PERSONAL PUNCTUATION PET PEEVE (PPPP)?

If I asked what your pet peeve was, how would you respond?

What about a pet peeve about punctuation? Do you see things, when you are reading, that drive you crazy? If you gave it some thought, you might actually discover you have more than one personal punctuation pet peeve (PPPP).

I definitely have multiple PPPPs, but the biggest is people who use apostrophes to make words plural. You know who you are! LOL.

I see this all the time. It is especially common when people are making acronyms plural. Think DVD’s  and CD’s (as opposed to DVDs and CDs). I understand that people may be concerned about all the letters running together, but the best solution, in my opinion, is simply showing the acronym in capital letters and using a small letter s at the end.

The official online definition of an apostrophe ( ‘ ) is: a punctuation mark used to indicate possession (e.g. John’s book or the boys’ coats) or the omission of letters and numbers (e.g. can’t for cannot or the class of ’99 for 1999).

Let’s have some fun! Right now, share your PPPP here in a comment. Let’s see if you agree about the misuse of apostrophes or if your PPPP is even more annoying!

I look forward to reading your comments! Don’t keep me waiting…

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