Authors & Speakers Network Blog with Larry James

Thursday, January 27, 2011

5 Punctuation Pet Peeves!

Filed under: Guest Author Articles,Punctuation — Larry James @ 7:00 am

Jeff Rubin, Guest Author

Think an ellipsis is when the moon moves in front of the sun? Or that a semicolon is a surgical proceedure?. . . well they’re not! ūüėČ

Celebrate the Eighth Annual “National Punctuation Day¬ģ” on Saturday, September 24, 2011. National Punctuation Day¬ģ was founded by Jeff Rubin. It a holiday listed in Chase’s Calendar of Events as a celebration of the lowly comma, correctly used quotes, and other proper uses of periods, semicolons, and the ever mysterious ellipsis.

Jeff Rubin , owner of Put it in Writing, a newsletter publishing company based in Pinole, California, founded National Punctuation Day to draw attention to the importance of proper punctuation in business, education and everyday communications. A visit to the official National Punctuation Day¬ģ website offers punctuation information, and grammar resource links.

“As a journalist, I take the English language very seriously, including all its rules. I’m sad to see a decline in writing skills; we communicate so much by phone and e-mail, where writing skills are virtually nonexistent. I founded National Punctuation Day because punctuation is essential to good writing, and I’m passionate about good writing.” ~ Jeff Rubin

Cartoon by Debbie Ridpath Ohi at

Defending punctuation isn’t glamorous work, but Jeff Rubin says he “soldiers on.” Below, Jeff shares his greatest punctuation pet peeves:

1. People who misuse the apostrophe, Part 1: The rule about apostrophes is so simple: If it’s plural there’s no apostrophe. How hard is that? Other than the period, which tells people to STOP, this is the easiest punctuation mark. Will the “Johnson’s” and “Smith’s” of the world explain to me why this rule is so difficult to understand?

2. People who misuse the apostrophe, Part 2: What’s the deal with “it’s” and “its”? “It’s” is a contraction, meaning “it is.” “Its” is possessive. If people read their sentences by substituting “it is” for “it’s” ‚ÄĒ “it is condition was serious” ‚ÄĒ it wouldn’t make sense. That means “it’s” is wrong.

3. People who make up their own punctuation style: At a business meeting the other day a guy who specializes in risk assessments said he likes to put commas and periods outside closing quotation marks. I told him that’s not the recognized style of any of the major stylebooks in the United States. He told me he felt it was a “choice,” not an absolute rule. That’s like saying the Ten Commandments are the Ten Suggestions.

4. People who put commas where they don’t belong: There are several correct ways to use a comma; an incorrect way is to add one just because it seems like the appropriate time. I know a writer who submits an occasional article for her company’s newsletter. Her article always includes a misplaced comma. When I ask why the comma is where it is, I get this response: “Well, I hadn’t used a comma in a while so I thought I should put one in.” Where’s the Maalox?

5. Their, there, and they’re; your and you’re: When did they stop teaching homophones in school?

Now. . . Go write an error-free letter to a friend!

Bonus Article: “The Importance of Editing Your Book BEFORE Publication


Jeff Rubin

Copyright ¬© 2011 – Jeff Rubin. Jeff Rubin owns “Put it in Writing,” a newsletter publishing firm based in Pinole, California. He’s written and designed more than 1,700 company newsletters since starting his business in 1981. Jeff is a member of the National Speakers Association and speaks frequently on writing, marketing, and integrity.


Authors & Speakers Network Blog

Larry James is a professional speaker and the author of three relationship books, “How to Really Love the One You’re With: Affirmative Guidelines for a Healthy Love Relationship,” “LoveNotes for Lovers: Words That Make Music for Two Hearts Dancing” and “Red Hot LoveNotes for Lovers.” His newest book is “Ten Commitments of Networking.” Larry James also offers “Author & Speaker” coaching. Contact:, P.O. Box 12695, Scottsdale, AZ 85267-2695. – More than 110 articles especially for Authors & Speakers at:

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