September 24, 2015

Tek This Out: 5 Grammar Tips for National Punctuation Day!

It’s September 24th, which can only mean one thing. National Punctuation Day, of course!

For the Tek Team, grammar is a way of life. Any avid reader will agree that content without flawless grammar loses an enormous amount of credibility. Even a misused semicolon could be all it takes to drive; readers; away;

In order to celebrate, we are going to provide you with some tips in order to make your writing endeavors free of grammatical errors. Of course, you could also celebrate by making punctuation shirts or apostrophe cookies.

1.   Don’t neglect that apostrophe

Apostrophes are used to form possessives, and also certain contractions (they’re, don’t, it’s). A common mistake is that people use apostrophes to form plurals.

Only use apostrophes to form plurals of lowercase letters (dot your I’s); plurals of words not normally pluralized (we received two yes’s and three no’s); and plurals of specific abbreviations (these doctors have their Ph.D.’s).

2.   If you colon when you’re supposed to semicolon, you’re gonna have a bad time

Both are used to connect clauses, but the difference is that semicolons are used when clauses are related, as you may have noticed in the previous paragraph. Colons simply expand on the first clause. If I were to say, “I’m going bald; my hair is getting thin,” the semicolon would be the right choice. An example of colon use would be, “I have two choices: yes or no.”

3.   Commas save lives

It’s self-explanatory, people.

4.   Speaking of self-explanatory, let’s talk hyphens

Compound adjectives can be tricky. Oftentimes, leaving out a hyphen won’t be a big deal, since leaving one out doesn’t cause any ambiguity. The rule is to use a hyphen when two or more words collectively serve as an adjective before the word they are modifying. In “self-explanatory,” there is always a hyphen, although you’d still know what I meant if I forgot one.

The tricky part comes when you have an example such as, “hot-water bottle.” A hot-water bottle is a bottle capable of containing hot water, whereas a “hot water bottle” is simply a bottle of hot water that's been sitting in your car all day.

Not only does punctuation prevent grandma from getting eaten, but it also prevents your way-too-literal coworker from bringing you a hot bottle of drinking water when you really wanted a thermos for your coffee.

5.   Your and you’re

“Your” is possessive, as in “your blog is the best one I've read all day.” “You’re” is a contraction for “you are,” as in “you’re bad at grammar if you can’t distinguish between your and you’re.”

Using the wrong “there” is just as bad of a grammatical faux-pas. Throw one of these mistakes in a cover letter, and you’ll quickly find out just how important grammar is when the company doesn't call you back.

We all make mistakes, but hopefully you’ve learned a tidbit or two here that will help you're your use of punctuation!

What is your grammatical pet-peeve? Do you struggle with semicolons, as well? Let us know in the comment section!

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