Archives for posts with tag: Punctuation

I’m all for brevity and impact. I’m sure you are if too you’re a regular reader of blog posts. It would be awful to fall foul of TL;DR syndrome, which is Too Long; Didn’t Read if you didn’t know.

My favourite exchange, the most brief an impactful example of dialogue I can think of, which could work for letters, emails, chat and so on, is the following:

From: Someone

To: Someone Else

Subject: Re: ?


(That’s it; this isn’t part of the exchange.)

In other words, to the question ‘how did it go?’, comes the reply, ‘It went great!’, in the most economical way possible.

Sometimes, punctuation can be so effective, it can be used instead of words, like this…

I’ve touched on our troubles with apostrophes in a previous post. Sometimes these rogue apostrophes appear in content without reason. Lest we forget, apostrophes can only be used for 2 principal reasons:

1) To signify possession, as in Paul’s house is rather small

2) To signify a missing letter, as in Paul’s a rather small man

As I’ve touched on in the previous post, you don’t need one when you’re using plurals with nothing possessed. The trees were swaying, for example. But you do see apostrophes with nouns, so the confusion is perhaps understandable.

Not so when you see the howler of an apostrophe with a verb. Just the other day I was reading a press release from a company I admire, and presumably it was written by someone who writes for a living. It began as follows: “Today see’s the launch of …”

What?! On what planet does that make sense? Hell’s bell’s … 🙂

Why oh why, dear reader, do folks put an apostrophe before the ‘s’ in your common-or-garden plural?

As we’ve talked about before, an apostrophe only ever signifies possession, as in the dog’s bone, or a missing letter or letters, as in the dog’s got a bone which is short for the dog has got a bone. But to start a sentence with ‘The teacher’s taught the pupils’ betrays an alarming lack of knowledge of that simple rule.

While we’re on the subject of plurals and apostrophes, let me just remind those unsure of how the possessives work with singular and plural nouns. The apostrophe goes immediately after the thing or things doing the possessing. So we write the dog’s bone, but the parents’ association. Where it gets confusing is where the thing doing the possessing has a built-in plural. So, we say the children’s toys, the and the couple’s daughter, but the couples’ children when it’s more than one couple doing the possessing :-). And then we get onto ‘folk’, from the German word volk, meaning people. Some people prefer to say folk, some say folks, so where do you put the apostrophe then? Wherever you like in my view.

Like I say, folk’s punctuation drives me mad…

Why do people use brackets, or parentheses as our American friends would say, in the written word?

We don’t use them verbally, other than an aside perhaps. For me, brackets are rarely used to explain some background detail, like something you might see in a footnote.

When I see content in brackets, I think it reduces the power of what you’re trying to say.  It feels like you know you should write less, but don’t have the courage to edit down, so you put your potentially superfluous text in brackets. Or maybe you just want to separate clauses out.  For that you could use the hyphen – or is a dash? – to get your reader to pause.

Remove the brackets and let your words go free, or lose them altogether (or not, as the case may be).