Punctuation Guide

One exclamation point indicates seriousness, excitement, and urgency. Two exclamation points indicate sarcastic seriousness, mock excitement, or an ironic lack of urgency. Use three exclamation points and you’ve reached a level of grammatical hysteria usually reserved for naive children’s letters to Santa or ISO posters.

Unless you’re an English major, like me, you probably have no idea what the correct use of a semicolon is. This is knowledge reserved for us, the elite few who have passed the full 45 series AND a junior seminar. When is a semicolon more appropriate than an ordinary comma? Is it like a period? Is it like a colon? You don’t know, do you? Yeah, that’s what I thought.

The best thing about the period is that it’s the only punctuation mark that’s really appropriate to say aloud while talking. Period. Of course, saying “period” gives the period itself a far more emphatic character than it ever really has in conventional usage. In print, periods are gentle — they give a sentence simple closure, without the inquisitiveness and uncertainty that come with question marks, or the emotional flavor of exclamation points. It would be better to accentuate one’s important statements by saying, “Exclamation point!” or “Paragraph break,” or even “Close parenthesis.”

Though it’s fairly simple to denote quoted statements inside of other quoted statements by utilizing the single quote, inside double quotes, what happens when there’s a quote of a quote of a quote? Thankfully, teenage girls of America have developed a solution that eases the grammatical burden on everyone. The phrase “he/she’s all” or “he/she’s like” is an easy, natural substitute for the possibly infinite nesting of quotes that might otherwise result.

The laziest punctuation mark of all time. The punctuation symbol of identity politics, second marriages, corporate mergers, and run-on sentences. It may sound like “high fun,” but this punctuation mark is low-fun indeed.