Why is punctuation important

Imagine, if you will, a string of words with no punctuation whatsoever:

xx xxxx xxx xxxxx xx x xxxxxxxxx xxxx xx x xxxxxxx xxxx XX x xxxx xxxxxx xxx xxxxxx xx xxxxxxxxxx xxx xxxx xxxxxx xxx xxxx xxxx xx xxxxxxxxxxx

There's a misconception that someone who is good at punctuation simply knows what punctuation mark should go where: a comma here, a semicolon there, a period at the end.

However, for someone who is good at punctuation, the words come out differently than for someone who is not. People who understand commas, semicolons, periods— and especially colons, dashes, and question marks—produce entirely different sentence structures from people who are not good at punctuation.

The result? Better sentences that have the emphasis—and ideas—in just the right places.

So don't think of punctuation as a way to go wrong (as a way to make mistakes). Instead, think of punctuation as a way to go right—as a way to say just what you mean in the best way possible.

Please note: This chapter gives you only a few of the most common and useful rules for colons, dashes, and semicolons. If you follow these rules, you will produce correct punctuation. But don't "correct" other people's writing just because they don't follow the rules here. There are other correct ways I don't include. (For a more complete look at punctuation, see any of the various handbooks on writing.)

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