What is National Punctuation Day?
National Punctuation Day is a “celebration of the lowly comma, correctly used quotation marks, and other proper uses of periods, semicolons, and the ever-mysterious ellipsis.” — Jeff Rubin, Founder of National Punctuation Day
The importance of punctuation
As boring as it may seem, punctuation is very important. It’s used to convey and clarify the meaning of our written language. Some of the most used punctuation marks consist of periods, commas, question marks, hyphens, semicolons, em dashes, en dashes, apostrophes, serial commas, exclamation marks, and quotation marks.
Have a look at this sentence, with and without the hyphen:
The host reported that 50-odd students participated in the webinar.
The host reported that 50 odd students participated in the webinar.
With the hyphen, the sentence means that about fifty students participated in a webinar. Without the hyphen, the host may have insulted fifty students by calling them odd.
Now look at this sentence, with and without the comma:
Let’s eat, Mom.
Let’s eat Mom.
Here, the comma is crucial. Without it, Mom needs to run for her life.
As you can see from the two examples above, punctuation, or lack thereof, can change the meaning of a sentence. Writing is more than just choosing the correct words and putting them in the correct order. Using punctuation helps your reader to clearly understand the message that is being conveyed, which hopefully isn’t that Mom is about to be eaten. (Because that would be disturbing)
Proper punctuation can make or break an otherwise well-constructed sentence. Missing or incorrect punctuation can cause your audience to stop reading your content, or cause them to feel offended because the opposite meaning is conveyed (remember the host who called the fifty students odd?). Learning how to use these little marks correctly can be challenging, but once you understand the rules and applications, your writing will greatly improve. Bottom line: punctuation is important. Use it well.
P.S. For a bit if fun, here’s how Jeff suggests you celebrate this glorious day: http://www.nationalpunctuationday.com/celebrate.html