Bank of America celebrates
National Punctuation Day®
with week-long celebrations
and trivia contests
In honor of National Punctuation Day, September 24, 2010, a punctuation question will be posted on Legal University at Bank of America each day during the week of September 20. Three winners will be chosen randomly each day from all the correct answers, and they will receive a prize. Good luck!
Your Grammar Team,
Marie Gayed and Karen Nelson
Question for Monday, September 20
The sitcom “Seinfeld” addressed punctuation during Season 5 (1993). Elaine broke up with Jake because of the punctuation mark he used on a phone message. Which punctuation mark did Elaine think he should have used?
In “The Sniffing Accountant” from the fall of 1993, Elaine felt that Jake should have used an exclamation point rather than a period to relay the phone message that her friend had just had her baby. As the discussion wore on, he did finally use an exclamation point when he said, “I’m leaving!”
Question for Tuesday, September 21
Review the Bank’s Grammar Guidelines to answer the question.
According to the Grammar Guidelines, which punctuation mark should be avoided?
According to the Bank’s Grammar Guidelines, the exclamation point should be avoided.
Question for Wednesday, September 22
Who developed a nightclub skit called “Phonetic Punctuation”? Although he died in 2000, his skit can still be found on YouTube. He also said, “Laughter is the shortest distance between two people.”
Victor Borge created a TV and nightclub act called “Phonetic Punctuation” in which he told a story with onomatopoeic sounds and hand gestures for every punctuation mark. His question mark was particularly dramatic. Watch it on YouTube.
Known as “The Clown Prince of Denmark,” Victor Borge was a comedian, conductor and concert pianist. He fled to the United States at the start of World War II. He learned English by watching movies and quickly became a popular entertainer.
Question for Thursday, September 23
Six of the “11 Rules of Writing” relate to punctuation. Rules 1 through 6 cover proper punctuation.
- To join two independent clauses, use a comma followed by a conjunction, a semicolon alone, or a semicolon followed by a sentence modifier.
- Use commas to bracket nonrestrictive phrases, which are not essential to the sentence's meaning.
- Do not use commas to bracket phrases that are essential to a sentence’s meaning.
- When beginning a sentence with an introductory phrase or an introductory (dependent) clause, include a comma.
- To indicate possession, end a singular noun with an apostrophe followed by an “s.” Otherwise, the noun’s form seems plural.
- Use proper punctuation to integrate a quotation into a sentence. If the introductory material is an independent clause, add the quotation after a colon. If the introductory material ends in “thinks,” “saying,” or some other verb indicating expression, use a comma.
Question for Friday, September 24
Which sentence is correct?
- Its about time you got here!
- Who’s car is this?
- This beautiful new car is her’s.
- It’s interior is luxurious.
- Hooray! It’s National Punctuation Day.
The correct sentence is (5). The other sentences have errors with apostrophes or the lack thereof.
Apostrophes are used to form contractions and to form possessives. However, apostrophes are not used in possessive pronouns such as its, hers, theirs, whose, ours.
In honor of National Punctuation Day, September 24, 2009, a punctuation question will be posted on Legal University at Bank of America each day during the week of September 14. Three winners will be chosen randomly each day from all the correct answers, and they will receive a prize. Good luck!
Your Grammar Team,
Marie Gayed and Karen Nelson
Question for Monday, September 14
Who said, “A kiss can be a comma, a question mark or an exclamation point”?
Mistinguett said, “A kiss can be a comma, a question mark or an exclamation point.”
Born as Jeanne Bourgeois on April 5, 1875, Mistinguett was a French actress and singer and a popular entertainer. She lived in France until her death on January 5, 1956. Her legs were insured in 1919 for 500,000 francs. Mistinguett’s signature song was “Mon Homme,” which Fanny Brice sang as “My Man,” and which is still popular in jazz circles.
Question for Tuesday, September 15
Who wrote “The Dictaphone Bard,” and on what poem is it based? (Note: Two answers are needed.)
Franklin Pierce Adams wrote “The Dictaphone Bard,” which is based on James T. Fields’ “The Ballad of the Tempest.”
Franklin Pierce Adams lived from 1881 to 1960 and wrote for The New York Tribune. In 1919 he wrote “The Dictaphone Bard,” which is typical of his witty, playful style.
The Dictaphone Bard
by Franklin Pierce Adams
(As “The Ballad of the Tempest” would have to issue from the dictaphone to the stenographer)
Begin each line with a capital. Indent alternate lines. Double space after each fourth line.
We were crowded in the cabin comma
Not a soul would dare to sleep dash comma
It was midnight on the waters comma
And a storm was on the deep period
Apostrophe Tis a fearful thing in capital Winter
To be shattered by the blast comma
And to hear the rattling trumpet
Thunder colon quote capital Cut away the mast exclamation point close quote
So we shuddered there in silence comma dash
For the stoutest held his breath comma
While the hungry sea was roaring comma
And the breakers talked with capital Death period
As thus we sat in darkness comma
Each one busy with his prayers comma
Quote We are lost exclamation point close quote the captain shouted comma
As he staggered down the stairs period
But his little daughter whispered comma
As she took his icy hand colon
Quote Isn't capital God upon the oce
Just the same as on the land interrogation point close quote
Then we kissed the little maiden comma
And we spake in better cheer comma
And we anchored safe in harbor
When the morn was shining clear period
You can read the original poem
Question for Wednesday, September 16
What punctuation mark has its own protection society?
The apostrophe has its own protection society.
The apostrophe is used to form contractions (can’t, I’m) and possessives (Jim’s, Maria’s) An apostrophe is not used to form a plural except in a few cases, such as with numerals or individual letters.
The Apostrophe Protection Society was formed in Great Britain in 2001 by John Richards and his son, Stephen, to address the misuse of apostrophes. They continue to deliver form letters explaining the correct use of the apostrophe to any business with an offending sign or publication, and they politely suggest that the business correct the error.
Not to be outdone, Australia’s Apostrophe Man was an imaginary character fighting apostrophe abuse in the Sydney Morning Herald’s “Column 8” until 2004. Read more about the Apostrophe Man
A fun article.
Question for Thursday, September 17
One of the following sentences uses the Oxford comma. Which sentence is it?
- We have a legal department in Seattle, Washington.
- Please copy John, Mary, Cindy, and Sam on the memo.
- Whatever you do, do not forget to proofread the letter carefully.
- We hope to close the deal by January 14, 2010.
Sentence (2) “Please copy John, Mary, Cindy, and Sam on the memo” is an example of the Oxford comma.
The Oxford comma is more commonly known as the serial comma. It is the comma used immediately before the conjunction in a series of three or more items. In (2) the Oxford comma is the comma between Cindy and and.
In the Legal Department, we often omit the Oxford comma. This practice would result in “Please copy John, Mary, Cindy and Sam on the memo.” The decision on whether or not to use an Oxford comma is based on style preferences; however, be consistent throughout your document.
Question for Friday, September 18
Which of the following are correct uses of the hyphen?
- Use a hyphen in all compound numbers from twenty-one through ninety-nine.
- Use a hyphen with all spelled-out fractions, such as one-third, three-fourths, and five-eighths.
- Use a hyphen with the prefix ex, as in ex-boyfriend or ex-president.
- Use a hyphen with family terms, such as brother-in-law and grand-mother.
- All of the above.
- (1), (2), and (3) only.
Sentence (4) is incorrect because grandmother should not be hyphenated. Sentences (1), (2) and (3) are all examples of the correct use of the hyphen.
According to The Gregg Reference Manual, Ninth Edition, family terms with great or in-law should be hyphenated, but terms with grand and step are solid. Examples are:
- great-aunt, great-niece, father-in-law, daughter-in-law
- grandchild, grandfather, stepson, stepmother
Thank you for participating in this week’s National Punctuation Day Contest. We hope you have enjoyed the contest and learned about punctuation in the process.
See the 2006 and 2005 contests (PDF)