Archive for January 14th, 2010
During my English classes with Miss Florence McLaughlin at the Farm #8 School in Changuinola, Bocas del Toro during the Jurassic Period, I paid little attention to punctuation. My main interests were composition, grammar, verb conjugation, and spelling. I don’t know why, but punctuation seemed so insignificant. As I plunged deeper into the language, I knew I was dead wrong. Punctuation is just as important as all of the above.
Below are some common mistakes many people make when they write in English. Let’s take a look:
1. Apostrophe for Plurals
This mistake is particularly common among foreigners who are learning English as a second language. The apostrophe is used to form contractions (e.g., It’s going to rain) and to indicate possession (e.g., John’s laptop is gorgeous, but never to form plurals.
Wrong: The bear’s will come tonight to eat our food.
Right: The bears will come tonight to eat our food.
2. The Comma Splice
When a comma is used to separate independent clauses, there must be a conjunction connecting them. If we decide not to use the conjunction, then we need to place a coma splice. You can use a period instead of the comma, or by adding a coordinating conjunction.
Wrong: The computer is exactly what I need, I’m going to buy it.
Right. The computer is exactly what I need. I am going to buy it.
Right: The computer is exactly what I need, and I am going to buy it.
3. Quotation Marks for Emphasis
In English, quotation marks are are mainly used to quote speech, sentences or words. They can also be used to denote irony. They should not be used to create emphasis. If you want to emphasize a word, use the boldface type and not the quotation marks. I often make this mistake and promise to be more careful in the future.
Wrong: This bicycle is “broken”!
Right: This bicycle is broken!
4. Multiple Punctuation Marks
If you want to write correctly, avoid mutiple punctuation marks, like exclamation points or the ellipsis (which should have only three dots). I see this mistake almost everyday when I surf the Web. Exclamation points are not used that frequently in business and formal writing. If your text is loaded with them, you probably should review it.
Wrong: This photograph is beautiful!!!!
Right: This photograph is beautiful!
Wrong: The old lady looked at me with deep sadness……..
Right: The old lady looked at me with deep sadness…
5. Punctuation Outside the Quotation Marks
In American English, other punctuation are included inside the quotation marks, even if it is not part of the quotation itself. British English, on the other hand, places punctuation that is not part of the quoted sentence outside of the quotation marks.
Wrong in American English: My eldest son said, “I’m going to skate tonight”.
Right in American English: My eldest son said, “I’m going to skate tonight.”
6. The Use of Commas After Introductory Elements
Sometimes we want to give an introduction or provide a background to a certain sentence. That is fine, but don’t forget to place a comma after that introductory element.
Wrong: Before going out to take photographs he made sure his batteries were charged.
Right: Before going out to take photographs, he made sure his batteries were charged.
Remember that proper English is not only being careful with your grammar, typos, spelling or composition. Punctuation is also part of the equation of good English written communication. Good Day.
Source: Six Common Punctuation Errors that Bedevil Bloggers – Daniel Scocco