You should invest in some punctuation.

Image via blogforeternity

A few weeks ago, a friend and I were discussing a blog we both read daily and the comments that people left on the post that day. I’d mentioned to her that the comment she left was hard to understand because it didn’t have any (or in my opinion, enough) punctuation. She kindly reminded me (as she has several times before) that when it comes to things like blogs, texts, non-work e-mails, and Twitter or Facebook updates, an emphasis on punctuation, spelling, and grammar is not at the forefront of most people’s minds since it’s not like they’re “writing a college essay”. Not to mention the character limits.

I’ve been told before that I should lighten up but it’s hard for me to do so because there are so many built-in tools to help us achieve spelling and punctuation greatness! Besides running a deliberate spell check, we have the unignorable red and green squiggly lines, the auto-correct feature (which I recognize can sometimes do more harm than good), and the ability to engage in some plain, old-fashioned proofreading of stuff yourself. I’m not perfect and don’t claim to be. No really, I don’t. In fact, you may or may not have noticed, but oftentimes, I over-punctuate, to keep from under-punctuating. I’m trying to loosen up…I swear! I’m working on it!!

Still, it’s hard when I get a text that says:

“good morning ma how did you sleep last night did you dream about me I might be in town this weekend I can take you out saturday maybe we can get some sushi I will let you order for me since you know what I like”

I guess I’m just supposed to guess where the punctuation would go…

Or, how about this one:

“Hey Sonya! Who are you? Long time, no talk.”

Yeah, apparently it has been a verrrrry long time since we talked because you don’t even know who I am! I thought of so many different ways that I could have responded to this (each way equally as trifling as the next) but I decided to assume that this person meant “HOW are you?” and responded accordingly. See, sometimes even the squiggly line fells you (see what I did there?) so you have to do your own proofreading.

Have you experienced any funny texting, tweeting, or e-mailing mishaps? Are you a spell check freak or a lover of life unpunctuated? Let me hear from you!

P.S. If you follow me on Twitter at @foolishmagnet, I PROMISE not to edit your tweets…or blog about them later 😉 


About Magnet for Foolishness

Resident of the DMV…and my incessant thoughts. Always hungry. Comedy craver. Ice cream freak. Reality TV show junkie. Slightly opinionated. Rarely wrong. Part Lisa Simpson. Part Sue Sylvester. Part Meredith Grey. Renowned chef and baker…avid gardener…pet lover…sometimes liar. Effortlessly forgetful. Always hungry. Blindly hopeful. Easily embarrassed (NOT). Eerily observant. Searching for something. Disregarding parallelism. Chronically tardy. Ruthlessly impatient. Surprisingly affectionate. Unnecessarily long-winded.
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45 Responses to You should invest in some punctuation.

  1. Facebook and Twitter killed the comma…among other things! #depression


  2. Cardell J says:

    For years I saw e-mails, text messages, and blog posts as informal methods of communicating. As such, I decided that it wasn’t important to follow grammar rules. As I started receiving e-mails and text messages from others without punctuation etc, I became increasingly annoyed because I had to read the messages 3-4 times before I could comprehend them. And being a busy person, I didn’t have time for all of that mess. At that point, I decided that I should switch my ways.


  3. Susie W. says:

    I’ve been thinking that I was the only one annoyed by the lack of punctuation, and the misspelled words in emails (and comments). Thank you so much! More than once, I’ve had to re-read emails from co-workers because their sentences run on…and on, with no punctuation. I, once, told a supervisor “please clarify – I don’t understand what you’re trying to say”. I told him that punctuation makes a big difference in how a sentence is read.
    He did make an effort to improve!


  4. My friends drive me mad with mis-punctuations, poor spelling and shocking grammar. I’ve had to stop berating them for it or I’ll soon find myself sat at home counting the commas in a stack of magazines on a Friday night.

    I’m definitely human though and to prove it, I shall continue to abuse the exclamation mark to within an inch of its life!!!


  5. RP14 says:

    Great Post!! I try not to over think the comment process. I am usually reading a blog, facebook, or twitter to get away from the day to day world. Twitter is especially hard for me, because the character limit is restricting…and when I use a comma, it has to be followed by a space.

    As you know some of the blogs that we read, have cut throat commenters, and it does not relate to punctuation.


  6. Chris Drummonds says:

    Good post.

    I know sometimes when people post comments on my blog with punctuation, I go back and correct it myself before I accept it. I guess it is the journalist in me.

    And thoughts about text messages are on point too. My cousin sends messages like the first one that you described, except he purposely spells words incorrectly because he thinks its cool.


  7. p00lriah says:

    punctuation is needed; it’s difficult to decipher a message without it. i also find that i favor certain punctuations periodically, just like fads, and i’d overuse them until i favor the next one. bad habit of mine.

    now if only i could do something about capital letters . . .


  8. People used to call me out all the time on my use of all lower-case letters. I think I started doing it because I was getting cramps in my pinky fingers reaching for the shift key, lol (I know that’s a dumb excuse). But anyway, I’ve gotten a little better and they’ve gotten a little more used to it.


  9. Jania says:

    While poor punctuation and misspelled words can be annoying, I know I’m a guilty offender. However, there is a big difference between being a occasional offender to being a habitual offender! I have judged people based on their lack of spelling capabilities. Note, there is a difference between typing “sid” instead of “did” (I get it, you were typing too fast) and “If be chance” (Really, no, the typing too fast bit doesn’t work here). Last thought…I PROMISE! I wonder how the latest generation of young people will handle Ebonics, poor punctuation etc. as a result of being born into a world a text messages, 140 character tweets, and rapid technology. I surmise that they will either be super smart and know how to appropriately distinguish various forms of communicating very quickly OR heaven help them, they will need Sonya to quit her day job and become their grammar coach! 🙂


    • Jania, I totally agree about the habitual offender. Everyone has the occasional typo but when it is consistent, that’s when it becomes problematic. While I would love to be a grammar coach, I don’t know if my patience (or lack thereof) would allow me to be successful in that role. Plus, there are still quite a few grammar and punctuation-related things I’m not straight on…like exactly when does the ., ?, or ! go inside or outside of the ” ???


  10. Cindy Walker says:

    anoth3r gr8t post ‘di$ i$ wut both3r$ m3 tho’. it mak3$ m3 n$an3 to 1/2 2 d3cod3 $um1’s t3xt n $tatu$ updat3$ tht look lik3 ‘di$. How can this be a short cut? It took me half the morning to type. It could take someone else just as long to figure out. When I have to read a post or message too many times just so i can comprehend it, I lose interest and don’t really care to know what it says. That means it was a total waste of time for all parties involved. jmo lol. However, I do think it’s k to shorten a msg from x 2 x, but not all the x. It may become a habit that could be detrimental in certain situations. Kudos for a great post, Magnet for Foolishness!


  11. stevebetz says:

    I wholeheartedly disagree with your friend. Decent spelling and grammar are ALWAYS something to shoot for — and no, you don’t have to go back and delete a comment and re-enter it when you’ve noticed you’ve typed “there” instead of “their” (though I admit to considering that…)

    Blatant language fouls aren’t cute — unless they’re meant to be ironic, I suppose — they just make you look lazy. Or worse.


    • “…no, you don’t have to go back and delete a comment and re-enter it when you’ve noticed you’ve typed “there” instead of “their” (though I admit to considering that…)”

      I often consider (and do) this as well. Something about there being an infinite(?) record of what I’ve written makes me wanna be the best I can be…


  12. PCGuyIV says:

    I tend to be a stickler for grammar. I try to not let things bother me in such informal settings as text and instant messages, but it occasionally does, especially when I know beyond any reasonable doubt that the person sending the message knows better.


  13. I just recently condescended to using contractions. What does that tell you about my persnickety nature when it comes to grammar and punctuation. I know how to use a semicolon and I use them. I do not use the @, #, or & even in a text to my son. He believes I am an unusually well preserved 200 year-old (because of my insistence on proper English and abhorrence of swear words). Maybe I am that old…:)


    • I, too, had a serious aversion to “&” for many years. I think I didn’t like it because it looks like a backwards cursive “S” and since my name starts with “S” it would confuse me. This, of course, was back when I was in elementary school learning to write in cursive, not like last week. :/


      • PCGuyIV says:

        I too despised the ampersand (&) until I learned its name. Now it’s one of my favorite things! I’ve always been slightly more ambivalent towards the at symbol (@). Technically it doesn’t replace the word “at” in every setting. It is truthfully only to replace “at” in the commercial sense of “at the rate of”, such as, “3 @ $1.50,” which means “3 units at the rate of $1.50 per unit.” Thanks to its use in computers to designate user-host or user-domain relationships (think about e-mails and certain computer logins: and user@host which mean essentially “user at” and “user at host,”) it has fallen into common usage to simply replace the word “at.”


  14. Jo Eberhardt says:

    Hear, hear. I absolutely abhor poor spelling and punctuation in any medium. I understand with Twitter you’ve got limited characters, so I’m a little more lenient there (but not much).

    Leaving out punctuation and grammar in written communication is akin to talking to someone in a monotone, without any pauses, tone or facial expression. The words may be there, but the meaning is lost. (And the listeners/readers stop paying attention very quickly.)

    Mind you, I get just as riled up by over-punctuation. Just a note: Exclamation points don’t stack. Sixteen isn’t more exclamatory than one. And once you start emphasising everything, you actually emphasise nothing.


  15. pinoyleonardo says:

    For me, just follow what is correct. But even for SMS or chat language, while we shorten words, it is still but fair to use punctuation at the least. I always try to tolerate any issue with writing as it could be a typo, intended to be short, or was trying to be quick. But we always need to remember that the point of all this is we communicate and we must be understood.


  16. I am, how shall I say, annoyed and disappointed when I send out a text with an unintentional mistake in it. (I have gotten lots of crap for sending out texts intentionally that ended up being mistakes, but that really had nothing to do with punctuation). I don’t have a wheel on my phone, so it’s a clickfest with the cursor to correct any mistakes I have made, or a resignation to do better next time and an admonition to just let it go….. (there’s an ellipse for you)
    I wrote a song:
    Puuuuuuuunctuation where the sun goes sweeping down the – no, just no. I can’t do it.


  17. Pingback: Punctuation, Memories, and Educational Television | Thoughts & Theories

  18. I can’t stand to see grown-ups who disobey punctuation rules.

    Well, unless it’s myself. I’m a serial comma molester!

    NIce post, btw…



  19. I don’t follow Trina, but her Tweets always end up RT’s in my timeline. Without fail..


    It’s bad enough people use apostrophes to indicate the plural but, da hayle is that?


  20. Shaneice says:

    In texts, I find myself using punctuation 100%, while the person I’ve texted won’t even spell one word correctly. Like, most times I’ll let it slide, because half of the time I slack on using the proper way to speak. So, if someone chooses to put, “sup?” I usually reply with a “chillin. wasup with you?”. It doesn’t bother me too much, however I’ve talked to foreigners who live in my city, and boy oh boy. I’d rather try to figure out what their text says then struggle to hear them pronounce simple words on the phone.


  21. hermitsdoor says:

    I am reminded of being in college. I worked in one of the offices, typing (yeah, IMB Selectric then wordprossing) test and spending hours at the photocopy machine. While waiting for pages to collate, I read e e cummings and T. S. Eliot for fun… Well, I still don’t understand that… But then there was William Faulkner who could make a sentance last three pages. Best to read those out loud to figure them out. Nice post concept.


  22. dwwriter says:

    I absolutely agree. My biggest problem, however, is with those who deliberately misuse our language. They absolutely don’t care. I’m about as anal with my messages, emails, etc. as I am about arranging my bookshelves. I’m told the organization there rivals a library…


  23. Ulyana says:

    You should see “My Day” notices from my son’s per-K. There are no commas, full stops or ANY kind of punctuation. On top of that, the teacher (who is a lovely woman) misspells almost every other word. Granted English is not her native language, but neither it is mine. She is a teacher after all. It is funny to read those sometimes and try to figure out what she meant.


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