Simple English ~ Nicola Prentis

Thoughts on ELT, English and whatever else comes into my head

How to really annoy people with your punctuation

A project manager wading through badly written reports at a major multinational nearly asphyxiated in a paragraph without commas this week. It’s time this reckless and dangerous misuse of linguistic tools** stopped.


We know that a line all in  CAPITALS IS AS SHOCKING AS BEING SLAPPED IN THE FACE. But do we stop to think what the effect of other punctuation and stylistic abuses can have on others?

no capitals at all (i’m guilty of this one) is me using my ickle wickle baby voice. nauseating, isn’t it? i still expect you to take my professional emails seriously though.

When you throw in extra exclamations all the time!!! Each sentence runs up and licks the reader all over the face!!! It’s like an untrained, slobbering puppy and equally as unwelcome!!!

Using txt spk in all yr msgs says loud&clear: I think ur a moron & barely wrth my time typing.

Do you emphasise questions with multiple questions marks??? Does it make the query more intense??? Or does it just give you the written equivalent of over enthusiastically botoxed eyebrows, frozen in a permanently quizzical lift????

Endless semicolons scream your neediness. Don’t make me read on out of pity. There’s more to come; I get it; I’ll stick with it if you trust me with a full stop. See? I’m still here.

If yourselves could get over yourselves’s aspirationally posh urge to throw in reflexive pronouns where themselves are not necessary, myself would appreciate it. It’s not posher, it’s not more formal and it makes myself really uncomfortable that you’re trying that hard with myself. Leave that forelock alone and chill yourselves out.

If you punctuate every sentence with ellipsis …I get drawn in by your mystery initially …only to find my heightened anticipation build and build …until …you let me down with a really dull ending. If you’re going to tease …put out.

And, dear hashtaggers, intent on advertising your addiction. You’re not using them as tags but instead you want them to serve some other functions. If I can open a can of coke without instructions, I can just about decipher the keywords or point of a 140 character Tweet.

Just as you’d no sooner slap someone, lick their face or patronise them in person, stop abusing them from your keyboard. Punctuate with prudence, capitalise with consideration and hashtag humanely.

**Of course, I bow to the Queens of  grammar and punctuation, Grammar Girl and Lynne Truss, who have  said all this much better and in more detail in Quick and Dirty Tips and Eats, Shoots & Leaves.


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This entry was posted on January 11, 2017 by in Thoughts, Writing and tagged .
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