Preparing for National Punctuation Day celebration…


By Bill Derby

Most of my English teachers would cringe at the thought that I use this weekly space to sometimes write stuff….yea stuff. A few years ago a highly intelligent, gifted physician told me he read my column each week. Seems his time would have been better spent in constant research. But, I guess, his brain needed a senseless amount of refreshing every now and again. A person can find a goodly amount of that in this space.

If you haven’t noted it on your I-pad or scribbled it on the calendar, this coming September 24th, 2018, will be National Punctuation Day. I am giddy with anticipation. Many highly educated folks’ pet peeve is the butchery of the spoken and written word and sometimes mis-interpretation of the English language. I frequently offer up fodder for these peeves.

Today’s communication via text messaging, twitter or email opens a whole dungeon of fodder follies, etc… LOL.

I did run across, actually read, a few funnies on how important correct punctuation is in our written communication. A few commas or periods in the wrong place change the meaning completely.  Below is an example of a love letter gone wrong with simple punctuation changes.



Dear John: I want a man who knows what love is all about. You are generous, kind, thoughtful. People who are not like you admit to being useless and inferior. You have ruined me for other men. I yearn for you. I have no feelings whatsoever when we’re apart. I can be forever happy–will you let me be yours?

Love, Gloria

EXAMPLE TWO with punctuation changes: 

Dear John: I want a man who knows what love is. All about you are generous, kind, thoughtful people, who are not like you. Admit to being useless and inferior. You have ruined me. For other men, I yearn. For you, I have no feelings whatsoever. When we’re apart, I can be forever happy. Will you let me be?

Yours, Gloria


While doing research on this week’s column I found a word of which I am not familiar… ELLIPSIS. I can’t even pronounce it but could become an important tool in future columns as it can be used in leaving out words for some reason, spelling… maybe.

An ellipsis is or are the three periods all in a row… thus the meaning of the word and use of the three periods is…the omission from a sentence or other construction of one or more words understandable from the context that would complete or clarify the construction. A mark to indicate the omission of letters or words.


“My attitude toward punctuation is that it ought to be as conventional as possible. The game of golf would lose a good deal if croquet mallets and billiard cues were allowed on the putting green. You ought to be able to show that you can do it a good deal better than anyone else with the regular tools before you have a license to bring in your own improvements.” — Ernest Hemingway, letter, May 15, 1925


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