Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Using Punctuation Correctly

This spring, I went to Massachusetts for my sister's graduation (yes, the one featured in Tuesday Museday who got credit-carded). On the short drive from her house to the AirBnB rental where my family stayed, I saw this advertisement for ice cream:

Still... a FULL half-gallon!

The company was advertising that even though their ice cream containers were now shaped differently, consumers would get the same amount of ice cream as before.

Why they thought an ellipsis after the word "still'' was the way to go, I do not know.

A lot of people think that correct punctuation is unnecessary, insisting that the point of their message is still clear, regardless of grammar or punctuation or verb tense or whatever. And they are not necessarily wrong. I understood what the ice cream people were getting at with their message.

But as a writer, it still made me laugh. Because of the ellipsis, I read the word "still" with a wistful tone. I dragged the word out in my head. And then there was an exclamation point at the end! So my inner voice had to be slow, then excited! I wish you guys could hear what I "hear" inside my head when I read that sentence.

And maybe you can. That's the beauty of punctuation. When used correctly, it can convey to a reader exactly how a character is saying a sentence. Punctuation is a great tool to convey voice and tone. Know how to use it to your advantage, whether you've got a comma, ellipsis, or em dash. 

And for the love of everything, use them correctly.


JeffO said...

Funnily enough, I grabbed onto the notion of a full half. Is that even possible?

Kara Reynolds said...

Ha ha! It really was a ridiculous advertisement.

Lauri Fortino said...

I'm glad I'm not the only one who cringes at the misuse of punctuation. :)