5 Common Punctuation Mistakes and How to Never Make them Again
Running a business requires a lot including wicked sharp financial smarts, awesome people skills, and killer marketing savvy. But did you ever stop to think that having good grammar skills is also critically important to the success of your business? It’s true. In the era of electronic communication, your grammatical skills often define you. Making common punctuation mistakes can give people the entirely wrong idea about your professionalism. To make sure you avoid this particularly sad fate, check out this list of five of the most common punctuation errors – and tips on how best to avoid making them.
Most Common Errors:
- Colons ( : ) – Determining when to use a colon is actually pretty easy. Think of a colon as something that you use to expand on a previous sentence. Here’s a great example. “I would like to place an order for the following items: one hammer, two nails and a screwdriver.” See how that works? Also, as a rule, only use colons after complete sentences. Don’t use them in sentence fragments, as in “I would like: one hammer, two nails and a screwdriver.” That’s a no-no.
- Semicolons ( ; ) – Learning how to use a semicolon in the proper place in a sentence can be useful in getting your written point across well. It can also make you look really smart. But if you happen to use one in the wrong place, all bets are off. Semicolons are used to separate sentences that are similar or that put across the same gist. They’re sort of like amped-up commas; when you use them right, they make perfect sense.
- Apostrophes ( ’ ) – One of the most common punctuation mistakes in the English language, improper use of the apostrophe can make you come off like a rank amateur in your written communications. Apostrophes are used to indicate a possessive. For example, you’d write “That is Mary’s horse” instead of “That is Marys horse.” A lot of people make the mistake of using apostrophes to indicate plurals, as in “How many horse’s does Mary own?” Don’t make this mistake. Use apostrophes only for possessive nouns.
- Exclamation marks ( ! ) – These are typically used to express intense emotion or to stress points vigorously. Exclamation points seldom have a proper place in business communications. Take caution when using them! Their improper usage can make you come off like you’re yelling. Doubling and tripling up on them is even worse, imbuing your communications with a bit too much adolescent fervor. You don’t want that.
- Commas ( , ) – Commas are used to insert natural pauses in sentences. One of the rules of using commas is “When in doubt, leave it out.” But this doesn’t always work. Commas are also utilized to indicate a necessary separation of words, and failing to use them at all can really mess things up. Just imagine how confusing it would be to read the following sentence without commas in place: “Let’s eat, children!”
Always strive to use proper punctuation in all of your business communications, including marketing emails and advertisements. By brushing up on some of the most common punctuation mistakes people make, you can improve your professionalism and avoid the ire of the Grammar Police.