How Sexy Can Punctation Be? Somewhat.

This is a terrific post from “Fixed That For Ya’,” an editor’s blog, which I just learned about from writer Mary Carroll-Hackett.

Here’s what the writers says about semi colons, for example:

“1. Semicolon

You probably don’t think you have a chance with that Hot Babe. That’s why you need a semicolon. It will help you get together with someone who’s Way Out Of Your League. We grammar lovers call these “independent clauses,” but really, it doesn’t matter what label you want to put on yourself. The important thing is that when you think you don’t have a chance, you can use a semicolon to join two phrases that ordinarily wouldn’t go together. HECK YEAH.”

Visit for the rest of them.

I have an unnatural affinity for the semi-colon, or, as one writing mentor warned me, “semi-colon poisoning,” and an unnatural annoyance with the exclamation point, which I use only when I’m trying to be unnaturally enthusiastic.

If you pay attention, you’ll notice that I edited the editor’s punctuation in that quote.  Go look for it.

3 responses to “How Sexy Can Punctation Be? Somewhat.”

  1. I must moan a little. I saw your punctuation edits, noticing the “error” before I remembered you’d said you’d edited something. But the problem for me is that I was taught, from a very early age, that most punctuation (that isn’t a part of the quoted material) should go outside the quotation marks – not inside. I follow this (new?) rule now because I’m an editor and I’m supposed to follow the rules. But to say I loathe doing so is an understatement. If you have grown children, you must have learned the way I did too. So what happened? Why the change? And why are end-of-sentence prepositions OK now too?

    1. Language is dynamic: what my mother learned, what her father learned, what George Eliot learned, or Shakespeare learned are different. We must adjust. However, on the “inside-outside” issue in quotation marks, remember that the British do this opposite to the way we do in the U.S. On top of that are style sheets that require all kinds of what I would call quirky rules. I love the Oxford comma, for example, but AP removes it. I know: this doesn’t help . . .

      1. I know language is fluid, but I hate the punctuation inside quotation marks. It just doesn’t make sense. Yes, AP removes it (it’s a major point of contention), but they are one of the few style guides that does. And they still call for it if it’s necessary for clarity – thank goodness. It’s the one way I can slide the Oxford comma into my edits sometimes.

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