The Punctuation Dating Guide: What You Need To Know

Chapter 12:

Using Puctuation To Define Relationships

As we have learned from previous chapters, the only way to be successful sentence is to be an independent clauseand have the ability to stand on your own.  You have your syntactical parts in order with your subject, verb, and complete idea.  Now that you are healthy and whole, you can choose to rock your independent self or make connections with other clauses.

Hooking up with other sentences is tricky business.  You can easily land in messy territory not knowing if you’re friends, friends with potential, actually an item, or fear of all fears, finding yourself in that relationship with no boundaries and no one can tell where you end and the other begins. Not every sentence is the same, so you can’t use the same punctuation with each. Let’s take a look at the different punctuation and see how you can use them to define your relationships.

The Period: This is the most common type of relationship, and therefore the one you will use the most.  Most other sentences are going to just be friends and acquaintances.  There’s no need to hook up, and the period says “I am me and you are you”.  You remain single, but value what others have to offer.

The Semi-Colon:  The semi-colon is reserved for friends with potential.  This is for when being separated by a dot and two spaces is not enough, because you have found another independent clause that you connect with.  You share the same ideas.  The other completes or elaborates on your thoughts.  It’s wonderful and magical to have found someone who has the same interests you do.  However, the semi-colon is for special relationships only.

It’s easy to get confused and muddled with the semi-colon, especially on those nights when you wear the grammar goggles, think everyone is special, and want to insert your semi-colon into each and every clause, phrase, and word.  This is the quickest way to develop a reeputation you do not want.  Be mindful of whom you give your semi-colon.  Remember, practice safe syntax and when in doubt, leave it out!

The Conjunction: This is the ultimate conjugal hook-up. You have scrapped the period and semi-colon and have said, “We belong together!”  But before you get too excited at finding your soul mate, the conjunction helps you determine what kind of relationship you have: not all marriages are the same.  Sure you may always agree, and for you, the comma + and is perfect.  Some relationships aren’t as happy, nor do they agree on everything.  They may not agree on everything, but they will try to see eye to eye.  They learn to live with it, or they don’t.  They can always go back to the period.   Mostly they try to work things out, for they don’t want to break up.  If you can learn from their examples, then you’re ready to take your ready to take your relationship to the next level, or if you can’t, stay with the period. Entering a new relationship is thrilling, yet you have to know where you stand.  These are the rules for how punctuation can define your relationships, so there you have it!

Unhealthy Relationships 

Sometimes we end up in unhealthy, toxic relationships.  One defining feature of unhealthy relationships is the lack of boundaries.  They are either unclear or nonexistent.  These relationships challenge meaning and leave everyone baffled.  There are two types of punctuation-gone-bad scenarios that you want to avoid.

The Comma Splice:  This is an example of unclear boundaries.  This is when you are connected to another sentence using a comma.  This puts the comma in an awkward position, because it’s not its job to connect you.  If the comma is followed by a conjunction, then it’s happy to connect you; you’re relationship is clearly defined.  Without the conjunction, it means that you really don’t know what your connection is.  In the meantime, you are confusing everyone around you.  It’s best to ditch the comma and move onto the period until you have things worked out.

The Run-On: This is the biggest relationship mess of all.  There are no clear boundaries, and you have lost all sense of self.  It is not clear where you end and the other begins.  What’s worse is that you go on and on.  When will it ever end?  Once you start a run-on relationship, you begin to pull in innocent independent clauses who don’t want anything to do with your mess.  Please step back, find yourself, and determine some boundaries.   It is best to just use a period until you can get a grasp on healthy relationships.

Following these rules will guarantee happy and fulfilling syntax, and isn’t that what we all want?

Stay tuned for the next chapter: Dependent Clauses and Why They Can Never Be Alone.

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18 thoughts on “The Punctuation Dating Guide: What You Need To Know

    1. Jilanne, You left me another comment about another post, but it was marked as spam. I accidentally deleted it, and thats’s why I didn’t respond to it. : ( I’m sorry!

  1. Still working on my punctuation, so this helps a lot. (In hushed, embarrassed tones) Did I get my sentence right:-) Seriously, though, I have a question: What is the dash all about? I know it is, like, the new parentheses, but when does one use it and when does one just skip it and use the comma instead?

    1. Thanks! I’m not to sure on the exact rules of the dash, but I love to use it. I think it depends on the tone of the piece. If it’s casual in tone, then I think it’s okay. It’s just another form of parentheses or appositive phrase/clause.

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