Punctuation Hell and Other Egregious Blunders

     Back on August 15th of this year I happened to notice this wonderful little slice of literary criticism in the funnies. It isn’t the first time I’ve read these short quips on proper grammar, phrasing and punctuation of the English language on this delightful strip but this one hit on a subject which has inspired me to expound on just a few of my pet peeves concerning writing.
www.candorville.com  by Darrin Bell
     Faulty usage of quotation marks is just the tip of the iceberg on my long list but let’s get started with that anyway. Listen up:
     Quotation marks seem to be a whimsical sarcasm tool currently but in a professional format their use is quite specific. They are the only way to distinguish somebody else’s words rather than our own in a sentence but there is a right and wrong way to employ them. The only proper use is placed with a comma preceding the quotation mark and closed with a comma preceding the closing quotation mark when inserted within a sentence. When the quote is used at the end of a sentence then a period precedes the closing quotation mark . They are the indicators of a direct quotation of someone else and not a single word emphasis of your own or the person you are quoting. I wish to further state that a single word does not constitute a quote.
     Any other application of quotation marks is a violation of their proper use. If a person wishes to emphasize a word, it may be best to italicize or underline when italics are not available. To use quotation marks in emphasis when chiding your own use of a hackneyed word or phrase is inexcusable and as far as I’m concerned, ought to be punishable by law !
     While we’re on the subject of writing, if I may go on, my other pet peeve is rampant exploitation of the phrases sort of and kind of. Worst of all, would of, could of and should of gets my hair curled in a knot. The first two are the snakes-in-the-grass among the qualifiers which no one seems to be aware of inside or outside the literary world. Not only do qualifiers punch holes in any good narrative but they are stumbling blocks as bad as any four-letter word laid claim to or played as a substitute for a good noun. The last three just simply don’t exist. These phrases should be written as would’ve, could’ve  or should’ve  but as I stated already, these qualifiers should be avoided as much as possible by a serious writer, outside of use in dialogue.
     If you are serious about writing the English language as a profession may I suggest that you obtain copies of two reference books? The first is The Writer’s Digest Grammar Desk Reference and Strunk and White’s Elements of Style. While the rest of the world is sitting back and telling themselves that writing is just typing, you can be at the business of proving them wrong. 
The Castle Lady
proving excellence one kiss at a time !    

About Evelyn

The Castle Lady Official web site: www.ilovecastles.com other blogs: ilovecastles.blogspot.com evelynsrockpages.blogspot.com evelyns-nailsforlife.blogspot.com
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11 Responses to Punctuation Hell and Other Egregious Blunders

  1. Theresa says:

    Wow! I have not thought about all that stuff since 10th grade. I\’m not a serious writer, I suppose. Good thing I\’m not because the little I know makes my hair curl too and I am far from the standard. Maybe I should send you my blogs to proof read first. : ) By the way, sometimes us folks from the south like to write the way we talk; it is afterall part of our culture.


  2. Glenys says:

    I have this feeling that you have the book Eat Shoots and Leaves.


  3. Douglas says:

    "Excellent post" , "Evie!"


  4. Leona says:

    "Okay!" You have me to a tee, I do tend to get carried away. Punctuation is just the tip of the iceberg for me. I use "this" to emphasize in comments since there is no other way to do it — maybe ALL CAPITALS? — don\’t want to SHOUT LIKE THAT all the time though. Seriously, this is a great post. These errors catch my eye quickly too. However, I do try to make my serious writing more professional looking. I\’m just stopping in to say "hi". Also wanted to see how you are and wish you a happy week.


  5. Douglas says:

    "Hi Evie, thanks for the message…"


  6. Evelyn says:

    Thanks for the encouragement everyone. I love to get into the details of writing when I have time because there is so much room for individualism in English even with all our rules and regulations on usage. Punctuation can be a tough aspect of writing to tackle sometimes. I\’m sure I murder French all the time without realizing it completely. It doesn\’t stop me from trying. I will hold to the fact that English is my first language and always will be. I adore English. ; )


  7. puzzle says:

    Spaces took away the editor from the comment-box – so neither italizing nor underlining nor fat letters are available and even people who dislike emoticon-writing feel forced to play arround with punctuations 😦 …. I think especially in comments, we need to be more tolerant with "goose-feet", the translated expression of a german expression for quotation marks: Gänsefüßchen, when used. It is just an unperfect try to communicate feelings in a medium which is settled between just talking by the help of written words and ambitiuos writing.


  8. Glenys says:

    I only use capitals as a means of highlighting words such as titles. I am sure that a lot of people have their own way of using punctuation. I know that in the world of technology it is deemed to be shouting, but it is easier to pick out titles and important stuff if it is highlighted in a manner!Another thing you didn\’t point out is the annoyance of fonts that are hard to read. For example the style that you use on your blogs. It may look good but to some people it looks very bunched up and some words are hard to read. So, apart from using bad grammar, people should also look at what font style they are using.Some of it is appropriate for maybe signatures but some you wouldn\’t use at all.What is your take on fonts and also using bold in blogs and writing in general?


  9. Douglas says:

    @Bridget"You are more than correct about the style of fonts used on sites. I am dyslexic and have been all my life like so many. Certain fonts wreak havoc on me and some site I just cannot bare to go to or read easily. Some in fact are impossible." @Evelyn"The fonts here look like they\’re all in one single line…. sdgadgrtisagdutfytsc5s65fsiodfs89df674ughf7d7s6fwgvgf. shfdusy78tr87tr as an example.""What I have to do to get around this is copy and paste into my Word program for the interesting articles, nuke the font to something that is Ariel or of that nature and read it there. Also color influences things greatly too. Red backgrounds and blue text causes shimmering, or visa-versa as well. Red and blue is never a good combination with text and background.""Userablitity in professional web development that I painstakingly took while serving in State Government taught me a great many things that I have applied both professionally and otherwise. I am not criticizing a person\’s creative zeal or individuality, and I don\’t want to sound that way. However, Bridget touched on something that is very important.""Don\’t mind my quotations, Evie, I am having fun…"Your lion in the darkness…


  10. Evelyn says:

    So long as you spoke those words Doug, my dear, it is perfectly all right with me that you have some fun. I am used to switching back and forth between fonts, it\’s the artistic flair in me that refuses to consign myself to Ariel totally. I have had some people tell me they love this font, which is Pristina, and I love it as well. It\’s my favorite, too, of all of them. I had no idea you were dislexic Doug ! I have learned something today. I could send you a copy of my entries in plain text if you prefer it. Apparently I\’m putting you in the position of working extra hard to decipher my writing. Now that\’s something I would never want to do. All my MSs are sent in this plain text, of course. ; ) I have learned a new German word today, too. Gaensefeusschen. Sehr gut ! I love it when I start a controversy ! I must have been a movie star in another life ~ ; ) The Castle Lady


  11. Evelyn says:

    Oh, by the way, it is perfectly alright to use all caps for one or two words for emphasis. Shouting is characterized on the internet by someone who only types with Caps Lock on all the time. It IS annoying but you do what you have to do. ; )


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