The 5 Most Awesome Forms Of Punctuation

Article: A look at english grammar punctuation use in writing effective sentences.

The 5 Most Awesome Forms Of Punctuation
By Laurel Osterkamp

Punctuation rocks! It can impact writing in a way that mere words can never achieve. Whether you're using a comma, period, ellipses or a dash, nothing can influence your writing more than correct and effective use of punctuation. The entire meaning of a sentence can be completely altered just by changing, leaving out, or adding in a little dash, dot or squiggly.

For example, if you were driving down a residential neighborhood and saw a sign that read, "Slow! Children Playing" you would know to keep an eye out for kids playing in the streets. However, without that exclamation point, the sign would read, "Slow Children Playing", and you would be left wondering if the kids in this particular neighborhood are rather dumb. This point leads to the fifth most awesome form of punctuation - the exclamation point.

5. Exclamation Point

Exclamation points are awesome because of their versatility and power. What other form of punctuation can turn one word into a complete sentence? "Run." is not a complete sentence, it means nothing. However, "Run!" commands the reader to move fast. With its addition we now know that either there is danger, and we need to run away from it, or there is something really cool that we need to run towards. Either way, it's exciting.

Speaking of excitement, what's more exciting than an exclamation point? Adding one to the end of any sentence implies intense emotion. For instance, "This milk smells funny." After reading that you're probably thinking, "hmmm, maybe I ought to smell that milk too?" But read "This milk smells funny!" and you know there's no way you're smelling that milk. With an exclamation point, sentences are yelled out rather than simply spoken.

4. Quotation Marks

The fourth most awesome form of punctuation is the quotation mark. One reason they're awesome is because they separate dialogue. What would we do without them? Try making sense of this passage without the quotation marks added in.

Kiss me. No, wait. She ran her fingers through his hair then touched them to his lips. He gently kissed them. I love it when you do that. I love you. He picked her up and carried her away.
This sounds like a pretty steamy scene, but who was saying what? See if it makes more sense with the quotation marks added in:

"Kiss me. No, wait." She ran her fingers through his hair then touched them to his lips. He gently kissed them. "I love it when you do that."

"I love you." He picked her up and carried her away.

Not only do quotation marks let us know all the important info about dialogue, they also do something that no other punctuation can - imply sarcasm. Put any adjective or adverb in a regular sentence into quotation marks and suddenly it takes on the opposite of its meaning. For example:

She's so "competent". I really respect how "good" she is at her job. She work is always so "thorough". "Definitely" hire her.

If you were a boss and you received the above passage about a prospective employee, would you hire her? I wouldn't, even though in reality, only compliments have been written. Aww, the power of quotation marks!

3. The Semicolon

Semicolons are awesome because they are so subtle and abstract. Few people actually use them correctly, but if you do, you will add complexity to your writing.

So what do semicolons do? They attach two complete yet compatible sentences into one. Think of the semicolon like a really healthy marriage. Two separate entities are joining forces because they fit and are stronger together. Another way to think of the semicolon is as a replacement for the word "because." Using a semicolon implies the word "because" without having to state it. For example:

. I love bananas; they taste so good and are high in potassium.
. It's hard to find a good boyfriend; all the decent men have been taken.
. I'd rather be playing hockey; baseball is boring and I stink at track.

Do you see how the semicolon replaces the word "because" in the above sentences? Did you also notice how the semicolon joins together two separate yet connected thoughts? No other punctuation can do what the semicolon can; semicolons are so cool!

2. The Ellipses

How often do you start speaking to someone, and then trail off before you finish your thought? I do that all the time, and if I was writing out what I was saying I would be using ellipses. Ellipses are awesome because they finish your sentences for you, making incomplete sentences into complete ones. What's better than that? They also can be used as the antithesis of exclamation points, indicating a lack of passion or conviction. Here are some examples:

. I thought I wanted to marry him but I don't know.
. Sure, I guess I can help you move.
. Goodbye.

So anytime you're feeling kind of fuzzy, just use ellipses. That's what they're for.

And now, for the number one most awesome form of punctuation -

1. The Dash

I love dashes. They are awesome - because you simply can't go wrong with a dash. It is pretty much impossible to use one incorrectly - they are so handy. You can separate ideas and add effect - all at the same time. I like to think of dashes as a dramatic pause - and use them as such. I mean - there is just no form of punctuation more - awesome! Dashes - they rock!

So there you have it - the five "most awesome" forms of punctuation. My list was obviously short, and some of you may think it should have included commas, colons, question marks, or the ever popular period; you may have a point. Just remember, my ideas about punctuation are subjective - but how you use that punctuation is not! Happy writing.

Copyright by Laurel Osterkamp: All rights reserved

About the Author: Laurel is the author of Following My Toes, a novel set in Minneapolis, where she is from. She also teaches high school English and Creative Writing. You can visit her on the web at or


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