When we talk to people, the tone of our voice, the intonation of words and the pauses we take communicate the desired message to the listeners. But, when we write these verbal cues are missing and it would have been easy to misinterpret the message in the absence of important guiding posts called Punctuation. Right from our school days where our English teachers meticulously drilled the concepts in our heads, we are told to use punctuation correctly to make sense of our writing. But, in our changing times where chatting and 140 character limits are commonly preferred means of communication, the very existence of punctuation seems to be threatened a lot of times. So, is it still important to use it?
I believe that punctuation is more important now than ever with so much of our communication happening through writing. We are aware of the usage of most punctuation marks. But we either ignore them while writing casually online or are too impatient to include them at the right places. We all know the use of basic ones like the period, comma, question mark and exclamation. – though we still get them wrong many times. But others remain shrouded in mystery for most.
Commas are the most commonly misused punctuation mark. It would’t be wrong to say that it’s done away with completely in most informal forms of communication. I know one doesn’t usually bother about it in quick chats and short messages but in my experience overlooking it can lead to miscommunication in a lot of contexts. Especially when we use new forms of communication platforms for formal communication.
Apostrophe has another sob story. The poor thing befuddles most and is constantly used in the wrong manner. When we talk about writing as a serious form of communication, it helps to understand the right use of apostrophe.
It is not that hard to understand the correct usage of punctuation. Like I mentioned, most form of communication that we do is through writing. And using punctuation correctly only helps convey your message exactly as you meant it. Just a bit of practice and patience can help you achieve clear communication minus any misunderstanding.
I have used the power of pictures to convey how our message can get distorted when punctuation is not used correctly. How do you think the piece below sounds without any punctuational help?
You may also want to read: How punctuation fits into the whole scheme of writing effectively
Linguistic rules change with different countries and cultures. Here’s a great piece on logical punctuation:
Here’s another one with Top Ten Punctuation Tips you should follow:
What has your experience been with punctuation marks. Have they made a difference to your communication style? Drop me a line below.
(I’d like to thank @Grammarly for inspiring this post through their wonderful grammar cards. In fact, some of the pictures here are credited to them. go follow them on Twitter or Facebook for language tips on the go!)