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Be Polite: Punctuate Right!

Pub Date: Dec 31, 2013

Rochelle Jewel Shapiro

BE POLITE: PUNCTUATE RIGHT!

by Rochelle Jewel Shapiro 

January 2014

Watch for her insights every month on Authorlink

“. . .caring about punctuation is a way of being polite to your reader. . .”
—Shapiro

Punctuation comes from the same root as “punctilious,” which means not only being attentive to detail, but paying scrupulous attention to the rules of etiquette. Yes, caring about punctuation is a way of being polite to your reader and most of all, fostering understanding between you. Mind you, I’m no grammarian. I once took a class called Grammar for Dummies that I didn’t pass. But the more I stop to look up a rule, the more the answers become incorporated in my writing. It’s an ongoing process. Please join me on my journey.

Apostrophes show possession.

Carol’s girlfriend, for example.

But what if we’re talking about Jonas who already has an S at the end of his name?

Jonas’ girlfriend would be correct.

And so would Jonas’s girlfriend.

“You just have to choose one way of doing it and be consistent.”
—Shapiro

You just have to choose one way of doing it and be consistent.

Numbers can have apostrophes as well.

What if Jonas’ girlfriend moved in with him in the late 90’s?

Sometimes an apostrophe can take the place of the century, but don’t add it if you’re talking about plural years.

In the late ‘90s, Jonas’ girlfriend moved in with him and in the early 2000s, everyone, especially her divorced parents and his parents who never got married, urged them to marry.

Apostrophes are also used in contractions. The biggest trouble makers are ”its” and L”it’s . Don’t use “it’s” unless you can translate the contraction to it is.

It’s a miracle that Jonas and his girlfriend didn’t break up during the wedding planning.

“Here’s an example of the other “its.”
—Shapiro

Here’s an example of the other “its.”

Jonas and his fiancé received a silver chalice from his fiancé’s brother that had Jonas initials wrong on its surface.

Punctuation in or outside of parentheses and the whole shebang is another thing that keeps me guessing. This simple explanation comes from http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/education/grammar/periods-and-parentheses

When the parenthetical statement is at the end of a sentence, the placement of the punctuation depends on whether the words in the parentheses are a complete thought.

Jonas loves his fiancé (not her brother). PUNCTUATION OUTSIDE BECAUSE IT’S AT THE END OF THE SENTENCE AND NOT A COMPLETE THOUGHT.

When Jonas’s brother-in-law visits, he takes the chalice out of the closet and puts it on a shelf (quickly)! ALSO OUTSIDE BECAUSE IT’S AT THE END AND NOT A COMPLETE THOUGHT.

When Jonas’ mother gets on the phone to tell him it’s time to have a child, he gets off the phone. (Each time he gets off quicker than before)! PUNCTUATION OUTSIDE BECAUSE IT’S A COMPLETE THOUGHT, A NEW SENTENCE.

Hopefully, by going over some of the grammar points that I’m not so sharp with, I’ll have helped you. And all of us will become punctilious in the etiquette of grammar.

About
Rochelle Jewel Shapiro

 

 


Rochelle Jewel Shapiro is author of Miriam the Medium (Simon & Schuster) and the Indie Award Winning finalist, Kaylee’s Ghost (Amazon and Nook). I Dare You To Write: First Aids, Warm Conforts, Sparking Advice for the Journey Ahead (Authorlink) is a collection of essays for anyone who dreams of writing. She has published essays in NYT (Lives), Newsweek (My Turn), and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize in poetry. She teaches Writing the Personal Essay at UCLA extension.