In response to The Daily Post prompt: We all have strange relationships with punctuation — do you overuse exclamation marks? Do you avoid semicolons like the plague? What type of punctuation could you never live without? Tell us all about your punctuation quirks!


© Paul Heaton
© Paul Heaton

The em dash. I’ve always liked the structure it creates and the emphatic conclusion it conveys in a sentence. Among the punctuation marks, the em dash is the most versatile, and with the right context, it can substitute commas, parentheses, or colons—in each case with a different effect.

However—as much as you’d like to—you can’t overuse the em dash or you’ll end up with pair of mayhem and confusion in your sentence. If it’s not too intrusive, I’d probably be using the em dash a whole lot more myself.

Among my favorites is a post I had a year ago entitled, It takes six men before you meet your lucky 7—or not. You won’t find a lot of em dash in this post but notice how the em dash in the title plays with your imagination. Intriguing? 😉

© thelala.com
© thelala.com

As for the semicolon, I have not paid much attention to it until I came across an article about a nonprofit movement that represents hope and love to those who are struggling with challenges such as depression, suicide, addiction and self-injury,  called Project Semicolon. According to this global movement—which I specifically love,

“A semicolon is used when an author could’ve chosen to end their sentence, but chose not to. The author is you and the sentence is your life.”

Currently, I’m working on with my relationship with semicolon and I can’t wait to see the day to have it tamed. Until then, Shakespeare, Frost, Hardy, Keats, Byron— and all great poets get to earn my jealousy.

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