Punctuation Quotes

Most popular punctuation quotes

Commas, like nuns, often travel in pairs.
The fig-leaves that hide the private parts of literature.
Hyphens, like cats, are capable of arousing tenderness or shudders.
One must regard the hyphen as a blemish to be avoided wherever possible.
No steel can pierce the human heart so chillingly as a period at the right moment.
Punctuation marks do for the reader what road signs and traffic signals do for the driver.
Cut out all those exclamation points. An exclamation point is like laughing at your own joke.
Commas in The New Yorker fall with the precision of knives in a circus act, outlining the victim.
An Englishwoman lecturing Americans on semicolons is a little like an American lecturing the French on sauces.
I like to use as few commas as possible so that sentences will go down in one swallow without touching the sides.
In writing, punctuation plays the role of body language.  It helps readers hear you the way you want to be heard.
The comma is, after all, a small sign that flashes PAUSE.  It tells the reader to slow down, think a bit, and move on.
Punctuation marks are the traffic signals of language: they tell us to slow down, notice this, take a detour, and stop.
The man who uses italics is like the man who raises his voice in conversation and talks loudly in order to make himself heard.


First rule: Do not use semicolons.  They are transvestite hermaphrodites representing absolutely nothing. All they do is show you've been to college.

writing advice

To those who care about punctuation, a sentence such as "Thank God its Friday" (without the apostrophe) rouses feelings not only of despair but of violence.
Since it first popped up in the 14th century, the exclamation point (punctus admirativus or exclamativus) has generally been regarded as the hot-headed punk in the school of punctuation.
Overall, the universe's apostrophe store stays in balance.  It seems our linguistic world was intelligently designed—for every gratuitous apostrophe there's an instance where it's omitted.
Give your main clause a little space. Prose is not like boxing; the skilled writer deliberately telegraphs his punch, knowing that the reader wants to take the message directly on the chin.

grammar writing advice

My attitude toward punctuation is that it ought to be as conventional as possible. The game of golf would lose a good deal if croquet mallets and billiard cues were allowed on the putting green.
The Exclamation Point.  Don't use it unless you must to achieve a certain effect.  It has a gushy aura, the breathless excitement of a debutante commenting on an event that was exciting only to her.
Just as the orator marks his good things by a dramatic pause, or by raising and lowering his voice, or by gesture, so the writer marks his epigrams with italics, setting the little gem, so to speak, like a jeweler.
Sometimes you get a glimpse of a semicolon coming, a few lines farther on, and it is like climbing a steep path through woods and seeing a wooden bench just at a bend in the road ahead, a place where you can expect to sit for a moment, catching your breath.
In the family of punctuation, where the full stop is daddy and the comma is mummy, and the semicolon quietly practices the piano with crossed hands, the exclamation mark is the big attention-deficit brother who gets overexcited and breaks things and laughs too loudly.
A long complicated sentence should force itself upon you, make you know yourself knowing it and the comma, well at the most a comma is a poor period that lets you stop and take a breath but if you want to take a breath you ought to know yourself that you want to take a breath.
I have always had a deep and abiding love for the English language.  I've always loved the flirtatious tango of consonants and vowels, the sturdy dependability of nouns and the capricious whimsy of verbs, the strutting pageantry of the adjective and the flitting evanescence of the adverb, all kept safe and orderly by those reliable little policeman, punctuation marks.

English parts of speech

I suppose this is a trivial matter but I do want to object to the maddening fuss-fidget punctuation which one of your editors is attempting to impose on my story.  I said it before but I'll say it again, that unless necessary for clarity of meaning I would prefer a minimum of goddamn commas, hyphens, apostrophes, quotation marks and fucking (most obscene of all punctuation marks) semi-colons.
One of our great assistances is, of course, punctuation.  But it occurred to me that, perhaps, each of us writers has only perhaps a finite amount of it for our use, and we should use it judiciously—lest we hear a voice, suddenly, when we need it, saying, "No more semicolons!" "You're finished with your dashes!"  And, also, that passive-aggressive comma, with which we so carefully set off what is nice, so it won't be missed.
Alas, there are so many kinds of commas: those that lie like rocks in the path of a sentence, slowing its gait and requiring the reader's heed to avoid a stumble; their gentler cousins, impairing a pell-mell flow of meaning the way pebbles slow a stream; commas that indicate a pause for thinking things over; commas enclosing phrases the way the small pockets in a purse hug hairpins or collect bits of loose change; commas that return us to our last stop, and those that some schoolmarm has insisted should be placed, like a traffic cop, between "stop" and "and."