Thursday, 26 August 2010

10 Punctuation Pet Hates

It's not that I'm pedantic - I'm not going to kill over this. But I like things to be done properly. 

Those who run "rough-shod" over our language - using respectable punctuation marks for their own nefarious purposes - must be found and stopped! Out with their dodgy colons and enough, already, of their superfluous exclamation marks!!!!!

Here are my top ten punctuation pet hates:

1. Like the picture says - if you don't use commas when you should, a little old man dies somewhere. Classic example (of errant comma, not little old man dying): here (thanks, Tony!)

2. Errant apostrophes - also known as the Grocer's Apostrophe. Or the Grocers' Apostrophe. Depending on the number of grocers, which is the whole point really. Many fine examples at, but the one pictured (right) was discovered by in the "illustrious" Daily Mail

3. Unnecessary quotation marks - make you sound sarcastic even when you're not. e.g. Nice "blog" Clare. There is also something vaguely nudge-nudge wink-wink about them which implies that what you're saying is a euphemism for something filthy.  Go to for more examples than you can "shake" a "stick" at.

4. Too many full stops. This might be a personal view - feel free to dash me down in flames - but I think we've gone beyond needing every acronym interspersed with dots. It may have been S.W.A.L.K. in the old days but it's SWALK now. Save your stops - you might need them one day. Soon.

5. Too many exclamation marks!!!!!  I know, I know - I do this too!! I must be found and stopped... oh there I am. Stop it. OK!!!

6. This isn't punctuation per se, but it's still annoying: Random letters Capitalised for no good Reason. We're not German You Know.

7. I'm being really  picky here, but I was picked up once on this one and it hurt: too many dots in your ellipses. There should be three. No more... no less. Any other number is an abomination - unless it's a full stop, in which case I'll let you off.

8. That little ~ symbol. I mean, what's it called and what's it for?

9. worst of all people who dont use punctuation at all maybe because they dont know how and just leave it to you to work out what the hell they are on about

and finally...

...that brings us to number 10 - which is your chance to join in. What else should be on the list? Tell me your punctuation pet hates?

Come on..... "Spill" the ~ Bean's!!!

p.s. Do you have great examples of bad punctuation, grammar, spelling? Send them to the lovely Grammarphile at RedPenInc


  1. I assume the question mark at the end of the penultimate paragraph is a deliberate 'mistake' intended to provoke humour?

    My main failing (if I may say this in parenthesis [despite the fact that using the word {rather than 'brackets'} makes me sound as pedantic as I am {yes, really}]) is that I do use rather too many parentheses.

    My editor (of the minor biography ['My Dear Sally'] I wrote a few years ago) suggested I should use the humble comma more often.

  2. Number nine made me laugh. It always shocks me to see bloggers not using any punctuation, and some of them claim to be writers.

    well. . . . .that was my thoughts on the matter!!!!!!!!!!!!! still dont know what these ~ are for

  3. My pet hates? All of the above, but mostly the use of a lower case i in place of a capital I - a heinous crime...

  4. Dave - yes indeed (ahem) - I was going to say 'spot the deliberate mistake' but that would just be a license for pedants. I'm going to leave it there, too - just to annoy you. On the subject of parentheses, I have been guilty in the past but now use pairs of dashes - perfectly acceptable I understand - for the same purpose as they tend to interrupt the "flow" less

    Ellie - careful now!!!! Does anyone out there know what the ~ is for?

    Jinksy - I may have been guilty of this on occasion - which is why I left it out. Otherwise someone (probably Dave) would seek out a previous offense. In my defense I blame Word which 'corrects' single lower case 'i's into upper and if I'm typing quickly I sometimes make use of that facility for speed!

  5. BREAKING NEWS... I am reliably informed by someone on Twitter that the ~ is called a tilde. Check it out here

  6. I am often a careless offender of many of these you cite. Fortunately I usually catch them in my posts and other writing, but they tend to pop up more frequently in my hastily composted comments. Punctuation hates? I'm not that much of a stickler as long as I can understand what the writer is saying. If meaning is clear then anything creative is okay with me, but if I have to work too hard to decipher the writing then I have a problem.

    Tossing It Out

  7. The only use I have ever seen for the ~ (tilde) is to identify those files that get left behind when your computer crashes while you're writing a WORD document or an excel spreadsheet. That doesn't explain what it's really FOR though does it?
    20 years ago we'd have had trouble deciding what the @ sign was for.

  8. My peeves are your peeves, Clare, which sounds a lot like something I promised when I got married.
    Of them all, the errant apostrophe irks me the most. Since the French are fond of using English words but have no clue about apostrophes, it pops up a lot. WHERE ARE THEIR PROOFREADERS? I can always count on my aunt to catch my mistakes, but only after at least 10 other peoples have seen them first.

    I have no idea what the tilde is used for, if anything, in Englsh, and have only seen it in Spanish.

  9. ...and what's more, my peoples shall be your peoples.

  10. There were birds all around but I never heard them calling Tilde was you.

  11. arlee bird - like I said, I'm not going to kill anyone - least of all you! 8)

    Boggins - in the link I posted in my comment above it describes various uses - the only one of which I understand is the one Deborah mentions: the nasalization of the 'n' in Spanish. But yes, I think you're right, too.

    Deborah - Being a bit dim it hadn't occurred to me that apostrophes are a foible of the English language only. I am a terrible proof-reader - especially of my own stuff. I just see what I want to see. My proof is your proof.

    Rog - Ma tilde told such dreadful lies/ It made one gasp and stretch one's eyes...

  12. I fully agree with your post, though I also have to add people's cavalier approach to 'your' and 'you're', not to mention the iPhone's automatic amendment of 'its' to 'it's'. If I'm posting something and haven't checked it over, I end up looking like an idiot. Hmph.

  13. I can't believe iPhone does that! Outrageous. Perhaps apostrophes will die out and we'll end up being the old farts griping on about 'in our day'. We'll be dinosaurs from the Apostrophean age.