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National Punctuation Day®
strikes a chord with the American public

These are just some of the letters received
since National Punctuation Day began in 2004.
It seems that people across the country are concerned about
poor punctuation, bad grammar, and sloppy spelling.
Some of these letters illustrate the latter three items;
I have not edited them.

I've just flipped through the site you created about punctuation. Very interesting, and very amusing. Well done.

However, I couldn't help but notice one punctual symbol you've skipped over. It's called the interrobang.

The interrobang is an exclamation point superimposed on top of a question mark. It was created in 1962 by Martin K. Speckter, a man who worked in advertising and believed that the combination of the two symbols would be beneficial. Intended for use in informal writing, it is used as punctuation for exclaimed questions, which often found their place in the advertisements of Speckter and his coworkers.

Unfortunately, the interrobang never reached the masses; without a reasonable way to type it, and for that matter print it, largely smothered the interrobang before it became well known. None the less, it is an actual punctuation mark and has been recognized as such. Despite it's virtual anonymity, it is punctuation.

I ask that you give this poor, battered punctuation the attention it deserves on your site. Or at least, a mention thereof.

Thank you,

Robert Thatchell
Philadelphia, PA

Hello Robert,


I have seen the interrobang. It is not widely regarded as a punctuation mark: http://www.interrobang-mks.com/. However, it is a handsome symbol.

Here's another one for you: The "expostrophe." It's formed from an exclamation point with an asterisk instead of a period at the bottom. It's used after an expostulation, for example, when you say, "I can't believe you did this!"

Yours in proper punctuation,

I am currently studying to be a teacher and am in the "student teaching" phase of my education.

I found out about National Punctuation Day through a teacher at Cedar Grove Middle School. In 7th grade, we are focusing on different forms of punctuation right now, so the timing is perfect.

I plan on celebrating on Monday with my class and doing any number of punctuation-related activities. For one of the activities, I would like the students to design their own punctuation mark and describe how it would be used. As an example, I am going to talk about the interrobang and its origin, previously mentioned in one of your letters.
Now, to my question: you mentioned an "expostrophe" in your reply letter, but I have searched high and low for information on such a mark and cannot find any. Where did you discover the "expostrophe" — and where can I rediscover it? I would love to add it, as well as any other unused punctuation marks, to my lesson.

Any help you could give would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks so much,

Emily Heins
Cedarburg, WI

Dear Emily,

You are the teacher from heaven. Thank you for adding punctuation to your curriculum next Monday.

The "expostrophe" doesn't exist. It's a made-up punctuation mark by a friend of mine. I'm sorry to confuse you. It's formed from an exclamation point with an asterisk instead of a period at the bottom. I think I will create it on my computer and add it to my website.

Here's another one for you: The "expostrophe." It's formed by an exclamation point with an asterisk instead of a period at the bottom. It's used after an expostulation, for example, when you say, "I can't believe you did this!"

I like your activity of having your students create their own punctuation marks and describe how they would be used. Send them to me and I'll post them on my website.

Yours in proper punctuation,

Your ideas are terrific. Your reaching-out is commendable.

I ordred 3 or 4 of your t shirts the moment I saw an article about them, but when they arrived I waas VERY disapointed because of teh large ad for your compnay printed on the shirts. (the name and phone # could have been printed in small letters on the part of the T shirt that tucks in, or around the hem. Fot this reason, I did not order more. It looked as though I were pushing YOUR compnay, and not giving your creative product.

I think I called and told you this at the time, but thought I'd mention it again, since you are asking for feedback.

Sivia Kaye
Portland, OR

Hi Sivia . . .

Thanks. It's kind of you to write.

I remember well your comments about the "advertising" on my T-shirts from two years ago. It wasn't an ad, merely a web site address. The type was smaller than the slogan. We have since re-designed the shirts, and the slogan type is much bigger than the web site address. Check out the web site.

Printing the name and phone number on the part of the shirt that tucks into someone's pants defeats the purpose of having that information on the shirt. And, if someone wore the shirt outside the pants, as most people do, having the type that far down the shirt, away from the rest of the type and artwork, would look odd.

Thank you again for writing. My wife and I are having a great time working with the little children. They are a great audience and thirsty for knowledge.

Be well.


Dear Jeff:

A friend of mine mentioned your delightful creation, National Punctuation Day, and gave me the url. (Was that last comma used correctly?) I am a fan of your work. Please keep doing what you're doing. What happens about a final period in my sentence that is in parentheses with a question mark at the end?

One can tell from the many communications you published on your web site, there are a lot of us who would prefer to see English written well. I learned some things too. I didn't know that there should only be one space between sentences. As you can see, I haven't quite got around to changing yet but I'm from England and we British get excused from many American customs due to general acceptance of our eccentricities.

Happy Punctuation Day to all!

Lindy Sinclair

Dear Lindy . . .

Thanks for writing.

(Was that last comma used correctly?) YES

What happens about a final period in my sentence that is in parentheses with a question mark at the end? NO PERIOD IS NECESSARY.

Be well, and punctuate with care.


Hi Jeff, I have a question, my brother's name is Robert Lansing Wolfe, III. Do I use that comma, or leave it out?


Hi Martha,

There's no comma. The III is part of his name. It's the same rule for Jr.

Thanks for asking me.


Oh, gosh, I've put one there all my life, until now!


What is the proper name for (!), Is it, Exclamation Point or Exclamation Mark?

Just a question.


Karin Walsh

Both are correct. I prefer exclamation point.

I heard you interviewed on the CBC today.

If no one has already mentioned it, it seems that one cannot become a sign painter in Melbourne (Australia) unless one forms plurals with an apostrophe, like "book's." That was the case when I lived there in the 70s, and I can't imagine that the situation has improved.

Ian M
Glenwood, NB, Canada

The 's pluralization error is prevalent everywhere. I was in China in March and saw it on signs in Beijing and Shanghai. The situation is getting worse, as schools throughout the world stress story development and content over basic grammar and punctuation rules.

I just listened to your interview on CBC Radio, and want to say "bravo."

Anal or not, I simply do not understand how anyone could not appreciate how proper grammar and punctuation contribute to clear, unambiguous communication.

Thank you.
Ineke Hughes

Hello Ineke,

Thanks for listening to me on the radio. I have not heard the program — I was away Saturday — but my mother tells me I embarrassed her with my Brooklyn Bridge analogy.

I've attached an article that you'll find interesting. It might shed some light on the sorry state of the U.S. education system: HighSchool-College-Mismatch.pdf.

I appreciate your good thoughts.


Hi Jeff,

Heard you interviewed on CBC Radio and my interest was piqued.

I'm 54 years old and was taught my fair share of grammar in schools in Ontario, Canada; although I make my share of errors, as probably shown in this e-mail!

One thing that I learned was that when a singular noun or someone's name ends in "s" and you want to use it as a possessive (not sure if I'm describing this correctly), you don't use another "s".

For example ... Chris' hat (not Chris's hat); Morris' home (not Morris's home); Jones' car (not Jones's car); hippopotamus' tooth (not hippopotamus's tooth)

I don't seem to see this rule used lately.

Is this another example of our not paying attention to proper grammar?


Hi Glenn,

Thanks for listening. I hope you enjoyed the program.

Your question illustrates a common problem with punctuation. Both s' and s's are correct; it depends on which stylebook you prefer.

The Associated Press Stylebook, which most newspapers use, eliminates the latter "s." The Elements of Style, also known as Strunk & White, prefers the additional "s."

It would be nice if all of the stylebooks agreed, just as it would be nice if the British/Canadians and Americans agreed to the put the period, or full stop, inside (or outside) the ending quotation mark.


Hi again

My students are first year university students, which in Australia means they have mostly just finished high school and are ca 18-19 yrs old. The website I have put the link onto is for their first semester Biology course.

A major part of my work is convincing them that communication skills are vital to biologists, and number 2 on my list is punctuation (number one is being able to string a sentence together in the first place, but they go hand-in-hand really). Many of my students are 'first generationers' — that is, they come from families that have not had people at Uni before — or they are from disadvantaged groups or overseas students for whom English is a second language. Hence the need to work on English and how she is put together.

I am especially taken with the Punctuation Rap, which I have put on as a link, and also passed on to my son's teacher. He is in year 3 (8 yrs old — approx 3rd grade in US terms). It's great to see things that are not dry and featureless, and my students have appreciated that. They also love the Rap.

My personal favourite on the site is the description of how to celebrate NPD. How many times have I wished I had a big, fat texta to scribble all over signs in the street!!, or defaced copies of magazines and newspapers from sheer annoyance....

I'm wondering when you have scheduled National Punctuation Day for 2007. I want to get an order in for a T-shirt in time for it to arrive here. But then, maybe it should be INTERnational punctuation day...

Best wishes and thank you
Kristina Lemson
School of Natural Sciences
Faculty of Computing, Health and Science
Edith Cowan University
Joondalup 6027
Western Australia

Hi Kristina . . .

Thanks for writing. I am so pleased that you like the Punctuation Rap. We have a lot of fun with it, and it's a useful tool to teach punctuation, which is a boring subject.

I have attached an article: HighSchool-College-Mismatch.pdf. You will see that language skills, or the lack of them, are not confined to your area of the world. It's an epidemic of ignorance.

National Punctuation Day is celebrated September 24 every year. This year it falls on a Monday.

National Punctuation Day®

Hi Jeff...
My wife and I were having lunch the other day and a group of four was having a corporate meeting at the table behind us. The main loudmouth was spewing the usual cliches and buzzwords when all of a sudden I hear: "Yes, you want to add to the woodpile, right?" Add to the woodpile. Have you heard that one?

Viva September 24.


Frank Bird
Portland, Oregon

Hi Frank,

It's nice to hear from you.

I have not heard "add to the woodpile." It's not very catchy, is it? I don't think it's going to make its way out of Portland, or maybe even the neighborhood the restaurant is in.



Thanks for your quick reply, and your information on British punctuation sources.

What really rankles me is their non-use of commas. I can't begin to tell you how many times I have had to read a sentence (usually in a British publication, but usually not in a good one, like THE ECONOMIST) a second time simply because they invariably omit the comma between the two independent clauses of a compound sentence! When I get to the word "and", I have to decide if it is joining two clauses or two verbs. And if I guess wrong, I have to start all over! (Usually, I start over anyway, just to make sure I did NOT guess wrong.)

On the other hand, I maintain that 75% of the world's supply of commas are in the composing room of THE LONDON TIMES. When I read that paper (and many other British papers), I feel faint because of all of the hyperventilating I find myself doing as I pause for each of their many (mostly unnecessary) commas.

It's either feast or famine with the Brits!


Hi everyone . . .

Thanks to all of you for supporting me in my efforts to promote proper punctuation and literacy.

I hope all of you had a nice National Punctuation Day today, and that none of you saw my wife and I perform the Punctuation Rap on KMAX-TV (Sacramento) this morning.

National Punctuation Day

Hi Jeff,

I think you should have written "saw my wife and me perform . . . ." "Me" is the object of "saw," and if there's any confusion about "perform," I think it's an unsigned (?) infinitive (infinitive without the "to"), and the subject of the infinitive is supposed to be in the objective case. Isn't it?
Cheers, Jean Harmon

Hi Jean . . .

Oy, my head is spinning! Would you like to translate that paragraph for me?

This is why I founded "National Punctuation Day" and not "National Grammar Day."

This was a mistake that I occasionally make. I should know better. I have had quite a few responses to my note; the next time I'm calling everyone!

Seriously, I appreciate that you pointed it out. This has been a struggle for me all of my life. Years of therapy didn't help, though they did help me find a wife. There I go making jokes, again.

Be well, thanks for caring and have a great remainder of 2006.

and that none of you saw my wife and I perform the Punctuation Rap on KMAX-TV (Sacramento) this morning.

I'm not sure, but shouldn't that be "...you saw my wife and me perform...." Also where should the question mark go in my message? (I feel myself getting deeper and deeper.)

Allen Cosnow
Glencoe, Illinois

Yes, you are correct.

The question mark would go like this: I'm not sure, but shouldn't that be ". . . you saw my wife and me perform . . ."?

You are among many who have written about my mistake. Tomorrow I begin therapy — again!

I applaud you for your efforts to highlight the importance of proper punctuation. While I appreciate your traditional approach to teaching the comma in a series, today's school textbooks and teachers teach students to include the comma before the conjunction. To prevent confusion, especially with the younger audiences, it would help if you changed that rule.

Thank you,

Jo Lynn Hughes
Crandall High School
Crandall, Texas

Hi Jo Lynn,

Thanks for writing.

It's not my rule. While The Elements of Style says to use the serial comma, The Associated Press Stylebook, used by nearly every newspaper in the country, says not to use it:

"Use commas to separate elements in a series,
but do not put a comma before the conjunction in a simple series."
I'm an ex-newspaperman who has used the AP Stylebook for 35 years. When the AP changes its rule I will consider changing my web site.

I'll bet if you took a survey of English language textbooks you'd find some use the serial comma and some don't. Just because something is in a textbook doesn't make it right. Many books, including textbooks, have misspelled words and incorrect punctuation.

Last year, for example, I received a gift of a book about the former Brooklyn Dodgers' baseball player, Gil Hodges, written by Thomas Oliphant, Washington Bureau Chief of the Boston Globe and published by a major house. Hodges's first name was spelled "Gill" on the second page of the narrative!

The sad fact is many people in the publishing business don't know how to spell or punctuate. Books typeset in India and other foreign countries are routinely published with these errors. Have you read your local newspaper lately? Next time you have a few minutes, grab a red marking pen and sit down with the main news section. I'm sure you will be appalled.

I must close with thanking you for writing. You obviously care; schools need more teachers who care. So, I applaud you for your efforts. I am sure your students will reap the benefits of your dedication.

My best to you.

National Punctuation Day

Hi Jeff,

Wow! What I cool site I've discovered here! Kudos!

As a 9th-grade substitute teacher who has an English/journalism-copyeditor-writer-career background, I've had some fun with the following, showing how the presence or non-presence of punctuation marks can completely turn a sentence around. (Readers need to know that the two characters are Mr. Breen [me], and the school superintendent, Mr. Lane, who is already involved in this skullduggery, but the kids don't know it.)

Imagine the drama incubating as I write on the board:

Mr. Breen said Mr. Lane is a doofus.

Then I say, with a stern, serious face, "And now, class, let's discuss the importance of punctuation marks and how their presence or non-presence can change everything." (Response: yawns)

Suddenly, 6' 5" Superintendent Lane himself appears, smiling, face framed by his looking in through the classroom door's small window. He's unable to see the board. The kids' faces turn ashen. Fingers point to the door, and the class looks at me with panic-stricken eyes that silently plead, "Psst! Do something! Quick! He's coming in!"

Fake-frantically, I look for a board eraser. Horrors! There isn't one! Just as the door opens and Mr. Lane is but one step into the room, with a flick of the wrist I deftly add 10 vertical marks to the sentence -- just in time, making it:

"Mr. Breen," said Mr. Lane, "is a doofus."

Mr. Lane looks up at the board, smiles, and says, "Aw, I'd never say anything like that!" He turns, still grinning, and shuffles out.

"Whew!"s are exhaled, followed by light laughter and banter.

End of today's punctuation lesson.

John Breen
Georgetown, TX

I am a columnist for a small Conn newspaper and I teach journalism and english as well at area colleges and I plan to write a column about NPD and what are apparently yours and others efforts to call attention to declining standards the column will be humorous no punctuation like this and Id like to include comments from you on NPD Is this the first year what gave you the idea what do you do in the real world what are the biggest abuses the its vs it's thing? isn't advertising the worst enemy of punctuation rules? that type of thing is there a time I can call you or we can just handle it by email
thanks for your cooperation
Terese Karmel

Terese Karmel, Features Editor
the Chronicle
Willimantic CT 06268

YOU ARE A GOD!!!! Thank goodness there are still folks who appreciate the writing of actual notes on actual paper, and who understand the importance of punctuation!

Monica M.
Tampa, FL

P.S. If I see one more advertisement for VCR's, I'm going to scream!

Dear Monica,
Do you realize the burden you have placed on me!?!?
Many people have vented about their pet punctuation peeves. Many have come from the Tampa area and complained about the Tampa Tribune and the school district. I'm very encouraged that so many people are concerned. I guess this means there is hope.
Thanks for helping to spread the word about proper punctuation. The next time you see that sign with VCR's, after you scream please take a photo and send it to me.


Hi Jeff,
Here are a couple of photos of our National Punctuation Day® celebration. (My shirt says "Grammar Police.") We played Punctuation Bingo at lunch.
Fun for all!

Linda Granell, Director of Marketing, American Contract Bridge League

Dear Jeff,
I'm sure I must be wrong about this because if you went to the trouble to create a holiday for proper punctuation, I'm sure you wouldn't let a mistake slip by on the website promoting it, but maybe you can help set me straight.
I noticed that in your article, "How to Celebrate National Punctuation Day®," you write, "A few words of caution: don't overdo it." I could have sworn you capitalize the first letter after a colon if it begins a complete sentence. At least, this is the rule my spell check function overzealously applies and what my Associated Press stylebook seems to advocate.
Enlighten me?

Heather Keels

Just teasing. Yes, you are correct. I missed this one. I have corrected this mistake.
I'd like to offer you a free T-shirt as thanks for pointing out this error. Go to www.NationalPunctuationDay.com/products.html and tell me which one you want and what size.
Yours in proper punctuation,


Hi Jeff,
I just finished reading The apostrophe catastrophe by John Foyston in yesterday's Oregonian. Thank you for doing what you are doing. This topic ranks high on my list of poor use of grammar and our language — not that I am any expert. Buzz words and terms, along with the rampant overuse and misuse of superlatives, are my other placeholders (nice buzz word, huh?) high on the list.
Again, we thank's you for your fantastic and overarching effort's. Hope to run into you someday at Albertson's.

Take's care,

Frank Bird
NW Portland (Oregon)

Hi Frank,
Thanks so much for writing. I appreciate your interest in proper punctuation. I'm pleased to learn that punctuation matters to more people than I thought.
What you can do is take a synergistic approach to empower your family members and co-workers to roll up their sleeves, think outside the box and take language usage to the next level, thereby getting them out of their comfort zones and eventually creating a win-sin situation as they move forward.
Let's face it: There's no need to reinvent the wheel here. By stretching our language skills to the limit we can take it to the max, build consensus among our fellow man, expand our horizons, and, instead of being out of the loop, we can foster a paradigm shift to create a new, inner loop, that is a strategic fit, client-focused, and on the same page with other people like us.
This, I believe, is the only way to stay out of harm's way.

Be well.


Hi Jeff,
You are a very funny guy. Thanks for writing back; it made my day.
I am going to pick up the banner for the cause. I set an email to my adult children, other family members and several friends, directing them to the article. I also sent your website just in case the paper was — hopefully — recycled.
May the great spirit of paradigm shifts always know your address.

Take care,

Frank Bird

Hi Frank,
Thanks. I had fun seeing how many clichés and buzzwords I could string together. Thanks for spreading the word.


A friend forwarded me info on this special day you founded, which we sadly overlooked this year. (He suggested next year we all get together and do the Comma Sutra.)


I heard you on NPR and couldn't help but laugh, as I also have been extremely frustrated in recent years about the misuse of punctuation.
I find it especially egregious when the mistake is made in print or on signs, as it advertises to the whole world our ignorance!
I wrote a complaint just last week to the manager of a local large real estate firm that had advertised in a half-page newspaper ad how proud it was to "welcome it's newest associates." I said that it was a shame that neither a copy editor nor he himself apparently had the knowledge or the concern to catch the error before printing. I added that many of us value highly just such qualities in choosing professionals such as realtors to serve us. It reflected poorly on him and on his firm and I just decided I'd had enough!
Now to a question: my Strunk and White, on the first page, lays out the rules for possessives and apostrophes. I was proofing an article written by a the director of a museum here who was commenting on a play by Tennessee Williams and who wrote "Williams' play." I thought it should be Williams's play, realizing it looks a bit strange perhaps, but knowing that I also grew up with a last name ending in "s" and would never have used the ending apostrophe unless Iwas talking about my whole family, and had already made our name plural.
It really bothered me, as this individual was making a lot of literary references, perhaps incorrectly, in his piece. I then found a copy of the Chicago Manual of Style in the library and found its assertion that current practices now allow the use of the ending apostrophe for singular possessive proper names ending in "s" if the end sounds like a "z" rather than an "s" (as in snake).
Is this indeed the practice, as you know it? When did it change?
Thanks for your good work!


Carole Duckett
Portsmouth, VA

Hi Carole,
Thanks so much for writing. I have been deluged with e-mails from people who have read about National Punctuation Day® or have heard me on the radio.
Many people have vented about their pet punctuation peeves. I'm very encouraged that so many people are concerned. I guess this means there is hope.
Regarding your question about singular possessive proper names that end in "s": I prefer The Elements of Style, which adds "'s." However, the Associated Press Stylebook has dropped the additional "s." So, I guess they're both right. Follow the one you like.


Dear Mr. Rubin:
Thank you a million times! I'm spreading the news to those who do not subscribe to the Hayward Daily Review, which is where I learned of your good works.
I, like you, am tired of terrible punctuation, poor grammar, and execrable spelling. Although I enjoy the television show Jeopardy, I cringe every time they misuse closing quote marks. I abhor listening to people refer to others as "that" instead of "who" or" whom." I purely love to hear a person using "may I" instead of "can I."
I hope today's article brings you an outpouring of good wishes and support.

Very truly yours,

(Mrs.) Teresa Sparks Temaat

Dear Teresa,
Thank you for writing to me! I am so pleased that you are interested in proper punctuation.
May I ask a favor of you? I do not have access to the Hayward Daily Review. Would you be so kind as to send me the article in which National Punctuation Day® was mentioned?
In return, I would like to offer you a free NPD T-shirt. Go to www.NationalPunctuationDay.com/products.html and tell me which one you want and what size and I will mail it to you. Don't forget to include your address.
Yours in proper punctuation,


Thanks for your caring and informative website — may you bless many!
At age 83, I'm realizing how uninformed all ages are:
• Our daughter, now 51, never received sufficient basic instruction, and needs it in her work today.
• Our grandson, first-year student in high school and in the "honors program" is still unaware.
• Our niece, college graduate, sends unreal e-mails.
• Our grandson, this year a graduate law student, is learning the importance of punctuation in working as a paralegal.
Congratulations to you for National Punctuation Day® — and your efforts to help us all!


Hello Kay,

Thank you for writing. I share your concern for the lack of education of today's young people. It's very distressing.
I will continue with National Punctuation Day® . I am planning a punctuation program for the elementary schools that I hope to premiere locally (Northern California) next year.


Jeff, I write for and about kids for our daily paper here. I am including brief about Nat'l Punctuation Day for 8.20 pg and would like to use art from one of the T-shirts: "It's not possessive." That mistake is a real pet peeve of mine: I write notes to people I don't even know about it! Would it be possible to get an email attachment of art (GIF from Web site is too small, of course) that we could use on the page? jpeg format, 100K min compressed; 500K uncompressed. My deadline is 8.17 noon. Thanks. Relma

Relma Hargus
Kids Avenue
The Advocate
Baton Rouge, LA 70802

Mr. Rubin:
My name is Mariah Mercer. I'm a staff writer at the Findlay Courier. We received one of your flyers this week about National Punctuation Day® and I would like to do a story on the event.
Do you have some time for an interview either via phone or e-mail this week? I'm available 8 a.m.-5 p.m. EST for a phone interview or I can just e-mail you the questions and you can respond at your convenience.
Thank you and please excuse any punctuation errors above ;)

Mariah J. Mercer
Staff Writer
Family Department

Brian Bethel here with the Abilene Reporter-News, a daily paper in Texas. I was wanting to talk to you about National Punctuation Day®. I believe you are the founder?
I'd like to know a bit about how this all came about, why it's important, and what you hope folks get out of it.

My thanks!

Brian Bethel, Staff Writer
Abilene Reporter-News

"Write an error-free letter to a friend, then take a nap."

Master Jeff: Reporter Morgan of the Tampa Tribune cites the above as your writing. You would have more credibility as guru of Punctuation Day if you put a semicolon after "friend." "Then" is a conjunctive adverb. You could have used a period and then began a new sentence. But the comma you use puts you in the dog-pookie of a comma splice. A comma splice is a grammar-punctuation felony.
I fight the losing fight of correct punctuation in the Tampa Bay area. The superintendents of the two adjoining counties — Pinellas and Hillsborough — are illiterate in grammar and punctuation and make over $200,000 a year plus their own nuclear deterrent for this affliction. People think illiterate superintendents are worth their bloated pay: it sanctifies everyone's being ignorant in grammar and punctuation in the school districts. Errors fill the newspapers on both sides of the bay. Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg is a haven of bungled punctuation and feeble writing.
Bad punctuation is a must for success in the Tampa Bay area. Anyone who punctuates correctly or who believes correct punctuation is important earns the label of punctuation crackpot who should suffer deportation.
But fight on after you have reviewed conjunctive adverbs. You show promise, and I need allies.
I taught English for 28 years. I know this stuff cold, so don't try to best me. I will mop up the floor with you. I bet you miss possessive-before-gerund every time it pops up in your line of vision.

Lee Drury

How have you managed to evade the INS?
Seriously, thanks so much for writing. I appreciate your interest in proper punctuation. I believe the error in the Tampa Tribune is the reporter Morgan's, not mine. Check the last two bullet points on this page of my web site — www.nationalpunctuationday.com/celebrate.html.
What's a gerund?


If the paper made the conjunctive adverb error, not you, I will jump on the reporter who wrote the article.
The Tribune is indeed a crappy paper. It has always been in bed with the town piney-woods mandarins and seedy pols; the writing is poor; the political point of view obtuse.
The St. Pete Times is a better paper. But things must be bad nationwide if it is one of the ten best in the country, as I have heard it is. Its writers make grammar/punctuation errors routinely.
Fowler had a low opinion of newspaper writers. But he had a low opinion of everything and everybody except himself. I think that only recently in the newspaper industry have most reporters had college degrees — not that college degrees guarantee grammar/punctuation purity. I can't tell you how many tenure proposals for Ph.D.'s I have revised. The science guys are the worst.
Your picture reminds me of my only son, Leo. He used to be overweight but has gradually become normal weight by reducing portions and the treadmill. He's a NASA engineer.

Fight on for literacy.


Hi Lee,
I've read the article in the Tribune. It was the reporter's error. Seems he copied my list of how I would spend the day and added his own punctuation. Please, no violence.
Yes, smaller portions and exercise. As Leo would say, it's not rocket science.
Be easy on reporter Morgan. I don't want to see you on America's Most Wanted.


Please, Sir, what is a "direction quotation"?
INTRODUCING QUOTATIONS: Use a comma to introduce a direction quotation of one sentence that remains within a paragraph.
The defendant said, "I did commit this crime."


Donna Ahern

Hi Donna,
It's a quotation that applies specifically to men who travel with their families on summer road trips and refuse to stop to ask directions.
:-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-)
Seems to me it's an error. It has been corrected. Thanks for letting me know.
Thanks for helping to spread the correct usage of punctuation.


Hi Jeff
Ahh. I would have guessed it was the response to that request for directions: The farmer answered, "Go straight until the kids drive you crazy and then stop."
Thanks for bringing some fun into the sometimes tedious and arduous task of policing everyone's punctuation. And don't even get me started on spelling!
:-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) Back at ya!

Donna Ahern

Hi Donna,
It's been a lot of fun. I think I'll leave the spelling and grammar to others.


How many spaces, one or two, should be after the period at the end of a sentence before the next sentence?
Thank you.

Rita Rule

Hi Rita...
One space.
The two spaces that most people still put in is a holdover from the days of the typewriter. Some capital letters (I, W, V, T) were so large that their serifs extended over the period at the end of the last sentence. So we double-spaced to avoid that.
Computer fonts have proper spacing built into all characters, upper and lower case. So, there's no need to double space after a period.
Thanks for asking.
Happy National Punctuation Day®.


Hi Jeff,
The newspaper article about you is sitting here by my computer, and I just now took another look. In the box entitled "Punctilious Punctuators' Pet Peeves," it says, "Comma splice: The splice happens when a comma joins two independent phrases . . . ." It should say ". . . clauses." A phrase is a group of words used as a single part of speech without a subject and a verb.
You've probably been informed of this by about seventy-seven people by now. Bless your heart. Thank you for continuing to fight the good fight to try to get people to write sensibly. I for one carry my white-out in my purse so I can obliterate those apostrophes in the "hot dog's" signs.
My neighbors have these similar plaques in front of their houses, for instance, "The Graber's." What? Is there one Graber, and is his first name "The"? These are usually burned into the wood so I haven't attempted to fix them yet. Let's keep plugging away, though.


Jean Harmon

Hi Jean,
Many thanks for writing. I am pleased that so many people are interested in punctuation.
FYI: I never said "independent phrases." Don't know where the reporter got that. In fact, we didn't talk about the comma splice; we spoke of the proper use of the semicolon, which joins two independent clauses.
There's a homeowner in my development with a rock in his garden with "The Almeida's" carved on it. Drives me crazy!!!!


Hi Jeff,
Thanks to you, too.
Should I write to the reporter, or did you? How about cement? Or a jackhammer? I can see where the latter could be quite satisfying.

Cheers, Jean

Hi Jean,
Cement? Jackhammer? Please, Jean, no violence! :-)
And please don't splice anything!


I have been helping a friend on proofing and copy editing some books he is writing. Tougher than I thought! Anyway, when it comes to comma usage in the following example: Salt, pepper, sugar, and cream.
According to the Chicago Manual of Style, the third comma stays. I remember not that long ago that the final comma should be eliminated. CMS justified their position with rather eclectic high-brow prose, but frankly the more I read, the more I come across the written preference to drop the sugar, and cream and go with sugar and cream.
After these five books we have completed, I'm pooped. Time for a break. Hope you can help me with how to handle commas for our future books.

L. Saunders
Brisbane, CA

Hi Linda...
This stuff is perplexing. The problem is some of the stylebooks disagree on several punctuation points.
The Associated Press Stylebook says: "Use commas to separate elements in a series, but do not put a comma before the conjunction in a simple series."
So, according to the AP Stylebook, in your example the third comma would be gone.
My advice is to follow whichever style you prefer.
Thanks for writing.

Yours in proper punctuation,


Good day,
How is National Punctuation Day® being celebrated around Baltimore?
Thank you,

Angela Jackson

Hello Angela...
Thanks for your e-mail.
Here is how I will be celebrating the second annual National Punctuation Day®:
• Sleep late
• Take a long shower
• Go out for coffee and a bagel (or two)
• Read a newspaper and circle all of the punctuation errors I find with a red pen
• Take a leisurely stroll, paying close attention to store signs with incorrectly punctuated words
• Photograph all of those signs and post them on the National Punctuation Day® web site — www.NationalPunctuationDay.com
• Go home
• Sit down
• Write an error-free letter to a friend
• Take a nap. It's been a long day.
I would consider the silliness of a national holiday about punctuation to be a success if people read an article or heard a radio segment about NPD and paid attention to their written correspondence, if only for that day.


This error — paris as opposed to Paris — makes the whole website irrelevant! Too bad! It, perhaps, could have been a good thing. And yes, I certainly AM being absoLUTEly picky!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (As the English language SHOULD be picky).

S. d'Arcie

Oh, come on! One error?


Hi Jeff,
With delight, I read the article about your reaction to poor punctuation. It also drives me nuts to say the least. It seems that teaching correct punctuation went out after the late forties or early fifties and has never returned. Poor spelling goes hand-in-hand with the whole miserable decline. Correct grammar usage in conversation is "out the window" also, as you have noticed.
As a budding novelist, (yes at my age, I graduated in 1954) I give you my word that never, never will I use the apostrophe incorrectly, nor will I allow disgusting things like the comma slice or lack of use of the semicolon to mar the understanding of my on-going saga.
Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Jacquelyn Schilling

Hi Jacquelyn,
Thanks so much for writing. I appreciate your usage of proper punctuation.
Best of success with your first novel.


Thank you for establishing a day warms my heart; I love it.
My senior English teacher in high school said that if someone couldn't express himself correctly grammatically, he would forever be shunned. He would be so proud of your efforts. I hesitate when I see someone using punctuation incorrectly. I believe that a well-written letter not only includes great feelings, but it will be written grammatically correct.
Thanks again; keep up the great work.

Jim Teasley

Nice usage of the semicolon!
I, too, was the beneficiary of the instruction of a great journalism professor who drilled us daily on the need to get it right.
I appreciate that you took the time to write. I'm pleased to learn that punctuation matters to more people than I thought.


Dear Jeff,
The article in today's Oregonian on you and National Punctuation Day® made my day! Now I need a t-shirt! Much to my husband's embarrassment I fight the apostrophe battle every day.
Happy August 22, 2005!


Hi Sue,
You can win the apostrophe battle!
I appreciate that you took the time to write. I have not seen the article yet; I believe a link to it is in my e-mail box. (Notice the independent clauses separated by a semicolon.)
Many people from Oregon and southern Washington have written and ordered T-shirts. I'm pleased to learn that punctuation matters to more people than I thought.

Yours in proper punctuation,


What a great birthday present I received yesterday, when my sweetie told me you had started a national holiday on a theme after my own heart: punctuation!
Punctuation police unite!!!
Thanks for the great idea.
Happy birthday to you, too.

Sally Ember, Ed.D.
former Language Arts/English/writing teacher

Hi Sally,
Thanks so much for writing. Happy birthday to you, too.
Next year National Punctuation Day® moves to September 24, so it will fall during the school year. I have some programs planned that I'd like to do in elementary schools.


One of the best web pages I've seen . . . I can actually learn something. Thanx for taking the time and keep up the good work. Bil

William Wexted

Thanks for your kind words. I appreciate that you took the time to write.


What do you do about a sentence like, "The owner of any reputable company believes he/she [or they, or he, or she, or s/he] needs to write effectively"?
I think "he/she" over and over is awkward. Yet "they" doesn't agree in number, and you can't assume there is more than one owner, and sometimes revising the sentence just doesn't work. Is it now okay to use "they" to refer to a single antecedent?

Jean Harmon
Neskowin, OR

Hi Jean,
I appreciate that you took the time to write. I'm pleased to learn that punctuation matters to more people than I thought.
Let me start with the last question first. No, it is not OK to use "they" to refer to a single antecedent.
Regarding the "he/she, he, she or s/he" issue: I think it depends on how politically correct you want to be. I usually use "he" because it's less messy. I'm not sure I want to hang out with women who are that concerned that they are being demeaned when "she" is not included somewhere. The "he/she" reference is just too awkward. And the "s/he" thing . . . well, let's not go there.
"He" or "she" is fine. Just be consistent.
A few years ago I met a woman, a very fine singer, who had re-written the lyrics to a few Cole Porter tunes. She had changed all the references to men and women and made them gender neutral. Geez . . . aren't there more important things to be concerned about? (Not to mention nothing rhymed!)
I took a diversity class a few years ago and the instructor, a very well known person in this field, gave us a handbook of "before" and "after" terms, as is before and after diversity. She had changed "senior citizen" to "chronologically advanced." She lost me after that.
Monday, National Punctuation Day®, is my 55th birthday. I planned the holiday on my birthday so I would remember when it was. I am a card-carrying member of AARP and proud of it. I like being a senior citizen. I'm looking forward to getting my "senior" discount at Noah's Bagels beginning Monday.


Dear Jeff,
Shouldn't the following adjectives be hyphenated? These adjectives appear on your website.
• "correctly used"
• "ever mysterious"
I am raising the question mostly in jest. I, too, am a proponent of correct punctuation and spelling. I teach school and am interested in how this holiday develops.
Keep on punctuating!

Carol Morgan

Hi Carol . . .

I appreciate that you took the time to write. I'm pleased to learn that punctuation matters to more people than I thought.
To answer your question:
The exception to the hyhen rule is when the adjective ends in a "y." Then there's no hyphen.
I looked at the top of each page of my web site and there is a hyphen in "ever-mysterious." Does it appear elsewhere in the text? Please let me know and I will fix it.
Have a great National Punctuation Day®. How to you plan to celebrate?


I awoke to a lovely article about you in my daily journal, The Oregonian. The misuse of the apostrophe has been a thorn in my side for too many years. I have a fond remembrance of a sign offering Egg Rolls'. Unable to locate it on your site, I was wondering why there is no mention of Lynne Truss's book. EATS, SHOOTS AND LEAVES wasn't even discussed in the article, which I hope you have seen. Regardless, thank you for brightening the start of my day.

Joe Bennett
Portland, OR

Hi Joe,
Many thanks for taking the time to write. I'm pleased to learn that punctuation matters to more people than I thought.
I didn't include Eats, Shoots and Leaves on my web site because it was written using British punctuation style, rather than American. In British style, for example, commas and periods are sometimes placed outside an end quote. That's not the case with American style.
I'd much rather have people get used to using one of the many fine American style books I reference. Also, since Lynne is not giving me a commission, I'm not going to sell her book.
I did mention Eats, Shoots and Leaves in my interview. I spoke to the reporter for about 30 minutes. It was a wonderful conversation. However, there's a lot of information he did not use because of space limitations.
By the way, nice use of 's after Truss's name. Most people get that one wrong.

Yours in proper punctuation,


Good Morning!
I heard you discuss National Punctuation Day® on the radio early this morning and visited your website. I will forward the website address on to friends. I will also return to the site and print some of the pages.
Thank you!


Sandra Lund

Hi Sandra,
Good morning to you, too.
Thanks so much for writing. I appreciate your interest in proper punctuation. I'm pleased to learn that punctuation matters to more people than I thought.


Dear Jeff,
Thank you for instituting a day to celebrate punctuation and proper grammar. it irritates me to no end to see peoples' flagrant misuse of the English language and every time I see an out-of-place or missing apostrophe, I want to scream. I can no longer remember how to diagram a sentence to save my life, and I know that I'm not perfect in my speech and writing; but since I feel personally disrespected when I see such ignorance (or maybe INDIFFERENCE is a better word), I strive to do my best.
Perhaps you can clarify something for me: right now my computer is trying to tell me that the word "english" in the above paragraph should be capitalized. My memory insists that it should only be capitalized when used as a proper noun, and not in such a broad sense. Am I correct, or is the spell-check program, which I tend to ignore?
Speaking of spell-check, I think that it's got a lot to do with the laziness of most people in regards to their writing habits. I can't tell you how many times I hear, "Well, if I misspell it, I can use my spell-check." Why should we have to think when the computer will do it for us?" seems to be the prevailing attitude of so many these days. Yet it is still only a program and only as "intelligent" as its programmers. It often makes mistakes, and can rarely tell the difference between the possessive "its" and the contraction "it's". I refuse to allow my children to use the program. They may take advantage of the indicator lines and write down the incorrect words, but they need to consult a dictionary for proper spelling because I do not want them to become typical ignorant language-users.)
I get so frustrated when I see businesses advertise "100's of item's"; mortgage companies telling me that their program "save's you 1000's"; banks investing in their "communitys future"; letters and e-mails from friends asking things like "your going, right?"; and homes "built in the 1920's." (My grammar/spell-check isn't flagging the words "item's" and "your", or the apostrophes used in the numbers, and it's really annoying me right now.) These are actual signs and notices that I have either seen or received in the last two to three weeks, and I cringe every time I encounter one. The companies making these proclamations are trying to solicit my business, but when they butcher our language, and don't take the time to use proper grammar and spelling, I feel offended. If I'm not WORTH the trouble of using proper english skills, than my business isn't that valuable to them; therefore they're not worth MY time and money. I'll take my business elsewhere, thank you very much, because total disregard for and indifference of the english language is a lousy and offensive habit up with which I will not put!
Thank you for providing a web site that is geared toward helping people improve their communication skills. I truly hope that many will log on to take advantage of it. God knows we can all use it! If there has been any misuse of punctuation in this e-mail, please forgive my ignorance and know that it's truly NOT indifference.


Kerri Hartell

P.S. Sorry this letter is so long, but this topic really gets me hot under the collar. I really would love to hear back from you regarding the capitalization issue, and also any errors that you notice here.

Dear Kerri,
I am impressed by the passion in your note.
Yes, indifference is the word. I think the saddest thing about the degradation of written communication skills is people's acceptance that they are bad spellers, bad grammarians and poor punctuators. These are not genetic defects; these skills can be learned.
Many spell check programs have mistakes built in because the people programming them are ignorant. Oftentimes it suggests I change a word to an incorrect spelling or usage. Regarding the usage of the word English: The AP Stylebook says, "Capitalize the proper names of languages." My hunch is it's always a proper name, because it always refers to the language or the English people. The AP Stylebook even capitalizes English muffin.
Your grammar-checker isn't flagging words such as item's because they are correctly spelled words and not grammatically incorrect. They are just used incorrectly. That's why I no longer use my grammar-checking program.
I share your feelings about companies passing themselves off as professional trying to solicit my business with improperly composed letters. I speak about this topic frequently, and I use all of your thoughts, nearly word-for-word! I usually end up taking my business elsewhere, because I do not have confidence in the company's competence.
If you have an occasion to take a digital photo of one of the offending signs in your area, please send it to me. I will post it on my web site with a photo credit.


Wow! Thanks for such a prompt and helpful reply. I'm glad to know that I am wrong in not capitalizing "English," and that's a mistake I hope I don't make in the future. The next time I see an erroneous sign, I will be delighted send it on to you. In my opinion, it happens all too often. B.T.W., the word "too" is another of my pet grammar peeves! K

Your to funny! -:) --:)
I'll be looking for those photo's. (gotcha again!)


Saw the Oregonian article — you have a great and useful site, very well organized! I spend a lot of time on my own web site deleting commas, which my writers seem bound to insert in absurd places they don't belong. And two of them are English teachers, which I'm not. I don't know the proper terminology but I know what is logical and what isn't. A recent oddity is the addition of a period at the end of store names, statements on billboards, etc. just as they did back in the 19th century! I'm a big fan of the dash and realized from your site I've been confusing dashes and hyphens, which I will correct from now on.

John Sunier, Editor/Publisher
Portland, OR

Thanks so much for writing. I'm pleased to learn that punctuation matters to more people than I thought.
En dashes, em dashes, hyphens — is there really a need for all these lines of short and shorter lengths? Might be the subject of an essay.
In my school district, the semicolon appears to have disappeared from the textbooks. I frequently get articles for my newsletters from people who write: "The business has had a record year, however, that does not mean everyone will get a raise."
What's an independent clause? Must be contract law.
If you happen to see any signs with odd punctuation — like the doughnut's the Oregonian cited — and you have a digital camera with you, snap a photo and send it to me. I'll post it on my web site and give you a photo credit.
Have a happy National Punctuation Day®!


Happy National Punctuation Day®, Jeff! Thank you for making us aware of this great tool for clarity.
Blessings on you.


Jeff, if you start going into stores and correcting them on the punctuation of their signs they'll either ignore on the spot, or they'll dismiss what you said without a thought. The only way to make an impression is to say, "I was going to buy a pair of those shoes on display in your window, but because you have two improperly punctuated signs in your store, I'm going to take my business elsewhere."
You're promoting a hopeless cause, but good luck anyway. If you can get a significant number of people to understand the difference between a plural and a possessive, you're a genius!

Bob Sanders

I've actually done this. Shop owners don't care. Their level of concern about customer service is such that many of them feel if I don't buy what they're selling, someone else will. They don't see the value in building a relationship with the customer.
I don't believe it's hopeless. I have been deluged with e-mails from people who have read about NPD or have heard me interviewed on the radio. I guess this means there is hope.
I'm also not looking to change the world. I'm just looking to make a difference where I can.
Thanks so much for writing. I appreciate your interest in proper punctuation.


I am a retired Sales Director and for the past three years I taught Business Communication. It is a college level course I adapted for Jr. High. The term Bus. Com. is a misnomer in describing the course. It is practical application of writing and speaking skills plus...
Part of the class concentrated on grammar and vocabulary. The book, Business Communication, Lehman and DuFrene, has a section dedicated to grammar that encapsulated punctuation and presents most common mistakes. It is a great tool and allows students to see the big picture and use critical thinking skills of analyses and comparisons instead of the traditional bits and pieces approach that most English grammar courses have. This tool was designed for college students and was a real help to me as a retiree student and teacher. Using this tool for younger students really helped put grammar (yuck) into a practical setting and made it more digestible.
Your program is a great idea, congrats. Just reading the newspaper is a real eye opener to the lack of proper grammar. And they have editors!

Rose Llauget

Hello Rose,

Thanks so much for writing. I appreciate your interest in proper punctuation.
I have been deluged with e-mails from people who have read about NPD or have heard me interviewed on the radio. I guess this means there is hope.
Thanks for the information about Lehman and DuFrene's Business Communication. I had not heard of this book.
Your students are fortunate to have you.


Bravo. It's about time.
I saw a feature on you in Saturday's edition of the Portland Oregonian. I've been writing for a living for nearly twenty years and bad punctuation has been driving me nuts for at least that long.
I don't know who's responsible for the diarrhea of the "plural apostrophe," but it MUST be stamped out. I'll try to keep doing my part.
I doubt it will make you famous, but hopefully this blog post will help the effort: http://masoncole.typepad.com/vyblog/2005/08/national_punctu.html
Keep up the great work.

Mason Cole
VP Marketing & Corporate Communications
SnapNames, Inc.

Hello Mason,
Thanks so much for writing.
Love your blog. I use the word "moron" all the time.


Dear Jeff:
I just learned about this official day and your website from the media reports. I totally agree with your premise and your goals for better punctuation.
I would like your opinion on a constant punctuation discrepancy I see many times.
When 3 or more nouns are listed in a sentence, what is the proper way to use commas on the last 2 nouns? I listed a sentence for example. The sentence is: "Bob has to choose a partner from the following people: Phil, Judy, Sally, Fred, and James." Is it proper to have a comma after Fred and or is it unnecessary?
Most people I come in contact feel there isn't a need for a comma before the word "and." I have always believed there should be a comma between the last nouns of a group. Thank you for your time and attention.

Sean Risser

Hi Sean,

Here is the rule, according to the Associated Press Stylebook: Use commas to separate elements in a series, but do not put a comma before the conjunction in a simple series.
In your example, there would not be a comma after "Fred."
Thanks so much for writing. I appreciate your interest in proper punctuation.


I just read about your excellent achievement, National Punctuation Day®, in my local paper, the Naples (FL) Daily News. Congratulations! You are a man after my own heart. I constantly cringe whenever I see inappropriately placed/misplaced apostrophes. I understand your anger at this ignorance. Drives me crazy. So glad to know I am not the only one.

Rebecca Sumlin

Jeff, I listened to you this morning on WINK AM in Ft. Myers, Fla. I couldn't agree with you more.
One area my wife and I really grit our teeth over is a price listed as ".05 (cent sign)." My computer doesn't have the cent sign on it. We tell the cashier that the price listed is less than one penny and they just look at it and have a blank look NO CLUE what we are talking about. This is found on a regular basis in Publix, CVS Pharmacies and McDonalds. Talking to management has done no good. They say, "That's what the district office sent us".
I enjoyed the interview this morning. Mandy ate crow when she realized that she had her appointment time wrong and left the snippy recording on your answering machine.

Best wishes.

Robert L. Fain
Cape Coral, FL

Hi Robert,

Thanks so much for writing. I appreciate your interest in proper punctuation. I'm pleased you enjoyed the interview with Mandy.
Mandy's phone message was hysterical! What's even funnier is that I hadn't listened to it before we talked on the air. I was in the middle of another radio interview when she called 15 minutes early. So I didn't answer the phone. I figured it was her, because she was my next interview, so I called her without listening to her message. I'm keeping it on my voice mail.
Keep up the good fight. And remember — live life one apostrophe at a time.


Thank you for taking the time to create this wonderful and useful website.
I took the time to forward your site to all my friends and family members.

Mrs. Teresa Carns

Hi Teresa,
You're very kind. Thanks for writing.


I am so excited about National Punctuation Day®! My friends and family simply dread going to a new restaurant with me because I always find grammar or spelling errors on the menus. They groan and roll their eyes and say, "There she goes again!"
My own grammar and punctuation are not always correct, however, I agree with you that it's frustrating when successful(?) people don't seem to know the basics.
Perhaps the next challenge can be to re-teach people that a married couple is singular! (e.g., "The couple has two children." Not, "The couple have two children.")
Anyway, great holiday! It inspires me to re-read Eats Shoots and Leaves!

Brenda Hengel
Accounting Assistant
UAP Tampa

Hi Brenda,
The "couple has/have" drives me crazy!!! No one gets it right, not even The New York Times!
Let your family groan. We punctuation crazies have to stick together!


Hurrah for you and your valiant effort to get people to punctuate properly!
The misuse of the apostrophe (appropriately called "The Apostrophe Catastrophe") drives me wild! It is especially offensive when improperly used with "its," one of the very worst abuses. I have even seen this in print. One would think journalists would know better.

Jay Mandraccia
Oklahoma Republican Party
Oklahoma City


Thanks so much for writing.
Many people have vented about their pet punctuation peeves. I'm very encouraged that so many people are concerned.
The "it's/its" error is the most frequent I see. It's right up there with "the Johnson's," as in, "the Johnsons live here."


Mr. Rubin,
Thank you for your zeal in preserving correct punctuation. In our fast moving world of change, I think some things SHOULD NOT change and this includes correct punctuation. We lost a champion of the cause when Ann Landers died.
I have what I consider a valuable resource that was my mother's. A New Self-Teaching Course in Practical English, was copyrighted in 1930, 1933 and 1935 by Estelle B. Hunter. It was printed in USA by The Better Speech Institute of America, in Chicago.
Of particular interest to me were these two rules:
1. The comma should always be placed inside the quotation marks. There is no exception to this rule.
2. The period should always be placed inside the quotation marks. Because they are so small, periods and commas would look queer if they were placed outside quotation marks; hence they are always placed inside.
My career was in the newspaper field going back to the linotype and hot metal. One old-time printer, in order to enforce these rules upon his employees, simply said, "they (commas and periods) are too little to go outside."
Enjoy your day.



Hi Barbara,
Don't you miss the good old days?
I am always correcting my customers about commas and periods placed outside the end quotation mark. I don't think they're very interested, but it does reinforce the need to have me write and design their newsletters.


Hello, Jeff,
I would like to congratulate you on your well-presented delivery appearing in the TAMPA TRIBUNE, "National Punctuation Day®", "August 22, 2005" issue.
You are not the ONLY one offended by the constant bombardment of quasi-skilled "scribblings", which are progressively eroding the foundations of our "written-communication" media. If I am able to locate it, I will send to you a satirical list of "most common errors" pertaining to "written English". You may already have it. Please be expecting it. Most of the recipients to whom I have sent "most common errors" have received a great deal of humor from it.
Thanks again for your featured article.

Jim Crosby

Hello Jim,
Thanks so much for writing.
By the way, the period ALWAYS goes inside the end quotation mark. Always. It's the same for the comma.


I heard you on KMOX radio in St. Louis this morning.
I'm a retired teacher who DID teach punctuation and diagramming. I feel like you about correct punctuation.
I've been known to take out a pen and correct bad punctuation on restaurant menus, signs, and anything else that I think ought to be corrected. It's pretty embarrassing to my husband.
Thanks for an enjoyable interview.

Sally Carr

Hi Sally,
Thanks so much for writing and for helping to spread the correct usage of punctuation.


Our writers group wants to know what date we should celebrate. Or not.
Nancy and Jim Wheeler
Kennebunk, ME

National Punctuation Day® has already happened! It was August 22. You'll have to have a post-party.
Next year it moves to September 24, so it will fall during the school year. So, plan ahead.
Thanks for helping to spread the correct usage of punctuation.


Mr. Rubin;
Hooray for you!!! I completely agree with you.
Over the years, I have seen untold numbers of punctuation & capitalization errors in writings of others. This is not a recent thing, & should not be totally blamed on e-mail, although the manner in which e-mail is used has led to punctuation & capitalization deterioration more quickly.
I have seen "your" & "you're" misused many times. The possessive form of words ending in"s" is also greatly misused. I should also mention I have found a few of these errors created by teachers in our schools. And we wonder why folks misuse punctuation & capitalization?!?
I guess people think it is "cool" not to use these items in e-mails, particularly. When I see writings with these errors, I think the author either does not know any better, is lazy, or ignorant. This may sound strong to you, but learning punctuation is not difficult. In many cases, it is common sense. Perhaps we should learn to "listen" to what we write. Are we so hurried for time that we cannot take the very few seconds needed to punctuate what we write?!?
Thank you for bringing this to the forefront. Please continue to do this, & I will continue to "mention" the errors to their author as I see them. Let's learn to take pride in what we do, no matter where we do whatever it is we do.

Many Thanks,

Gene Wright

Hi Mr. Wright,

Thanks so much for writing.
I, too, will not do business with so-called "professionals" who present themselves poorly in their printed marketing and sales materials. I fear their incompetence and lack of attention to detail. I want someone who takes pride in all aspects of his work.
Thanks for helping to spread the word about proper punctuation.


Hi Jeff,
I read about NPD in the St. Petersburg Times. I've been enjoying the site.
If you've got any friends in Brooklyn, NY, you might want to send them to Avenue M between E. 5th and E. 4th Streets. On that block — on the left side if you're facing from 5th to 4th — is a store that began calling itself Hobby's and Toys [sic] in the early 1970s. The same sign was still there at least as late as my last visit in 1996.
Back in the 70s, when the store name had changed from Hobbiesville and I was still in grade school (as I recall), I complained to the management — who essentially said, "Go 'way, kid, yer botherin' me." Alas, I didn't take a photo of it; and I am now more than 1,000 miles from Brooklyn and don't plan a visit any time soon. The sign may well have vanished by now, but if not I think it would be a sterling addition to your site. The F train to the Avenue N stop on the subway will get you there.
In the meantime, I'll keep my camera handy.


Elissa Malcohn

Hi Elissa,

All of my friends and family left Brooklyn by the end of the 1960s. However, there are plenty of incorrectly punctuated signs out here in Northern California.
There's a hobby store close to me whose sign says "hobby's." I wonder if the owners are related. I'm going to start carrying my digital camera with me, so watch my web site for new photo pages.
And you send your photos, too.


Is National Punctuation Day® celebrated every August 22nd or does it fall on the fourth Monday of August each year?
It'll be easier to remember if it's every August 22nd, since that is also my birthday, but I wanted to be sure so I don't miss it again next year. I'm kind of bummed that I didn't find out it existed until today.
Also, I'm curious if there is any logic or reasoning behind the selection of the date for NPD or if it just seemed like a good day to celebrate punctuation?
Thanks for your efforts. NPD is a great day!

Tim Canny

Hi Tim,
National Punctuation Day® will move to September 24 next year, where it will remain. I've decided to move it to a time during the school year, so teachers will have a better opportunity to develop programs, especially for the elementary grades.
August 22 is my birthday, too. That's why I picked it as National Punctuation Day®. Happy birthday to you!


Just read the piece about you in the Hour. What a great idea. I'm driven crazy as well by poor punctuation. I blame it in part on the decline of reading and literacy in our schools and beyond. Glad to see a Norwalk native doing something about it.
If you're ever back in Norwalk, I'd love to have you speak at the library.

Best regards,

Les Kozerowitz, Director
Norwalk Public Library
Norwalk, CT 06850

Thanks for the offer. I get back to Norwalk every few years. I will keep this in mind for my next visit.


Hi Jeff,
Thanks for the punctuation website. You have compiled an invaluable reference!


G. Karen Vogelsang, RN, RHIA
St. Louis, MO

I heard a blurb on the radio this morning about you and your campaign for correct punctuation.
I, too, share your concern for correctness in our publications. Two years ago, my husband and I moved to the central valley of California, specifically Manteca. I am continually appalled at the lack of proofreading skills at the local newspaper, the Manteca Bulletin. It is truly appalling to read articles that have misspelled words, misused words (like there and their used incorrectly), and of course, the common punctuation errors.
I would encourage you to pick up a copy or visit their website and read the articles. I don't even purchase the paper any longer, as it only aggravates me.
I hope that maybe some negative publicity for this paper will encourage them to do better with their proofreading.

Cindy M. Johosky
Lodi, CA

Hi Cindy,
Thanks so much for writing.
Many people have vented about their pet punctuation peeves; many were the same as yours about their local paper. Most newspapers are guilty of punctuation, spelling and grammar abuses. It's very discouraging.
Thanks for doing your part to spread the word about proper punctuation.


If I understand the use of the term "closing parentheses" as illustrated in both examples below from your website, I believe it refers to the single curved mark, not the pair. In that instance, I think it would take the spelling, "parenthesis", indicating the singular form, not the plural.
• Place a period outside a closing parentheses if the material inside is not a sentence (such as this fragment).
• (An independent parenthetical sentence such as this one takes a period before the closing parentheses.)


Joel S. Kent

Thanks for writing. You are absolutely right. I am looking at the AP Stylebook right now and I typed this entry incorrectly. It has been changed.
By the way, in your second sentence — In that instance, I think it would take the spelling, "parenthesis", indicating the singular form, not the plural. — the comma goes inside the end quote in "parenthesis." The comma always goes inside an end quote.
Glad to have you looking at my web site. Keep visiting it. There will be many additions in the coming months.


Thanks for both recognizing my suggested correction and catching me on the proper placement of the comma. We can always use two pair of eyes.

Joel Kent


I'm a newsletter publisher and my wife reads every newsletter before it goes to press. She catches a lot of errors that my customers and I miss.


Hi, Jeff.
I was so happy to find your site! I've been taking photos of incorrectly punctuated signs for several years and am appalled at the number of "apostrophe catastrophes" I encounter on a daily basis. If I can find them, I'll forward some of the better photos to you.
Keep up the good work.

Stephanie McFarlin

Hi Stephanie,
Thanks for writing. I'll look for your photo's. :-) ;-)


How can I become a member of your organization?
This is just great! My family and friends call me an old prude ("old" may be true, but certainly "prude" is not).
Keep up the effort.



Dear Alice,

Alas, there is no organization. Just me, my wife, Norma, and my miniature schnauzer, Monk. But you can carry the good fight to your family and friends by living life one apostrophe at a time. Be well. Thanks for writing.


I found the NPD web site to be very helpful! Finally I now think I understand when to use a semicolon.
But... in browsing through the other definitions I think I found a punctuation error. The definition of COLON contains a semicolon that appears to be joining a dependent phrase with an independent phrase. The definition of SEMICOLON seems to not allow this. Is my new-found knowledge correct or am I missing something here?
I just thought you would like to know.


Ted Hetu
Beaverton, OR

PS -
If I'm right...I'd like a free National Punctuation Day T-shirt. I would wear it proudly!

Hi Ted,
Sorry — no free T-shirt.
A semicolon is also used to separate elements of a series when individual segments contain materials that also must be set off by commas. For example:
He leaves a son, John Smith of Chicago; three daughters, Jane Smith, of Wichita, KS., Mary Smith, of Denver, and Susan Kingsbury, of Boston; and a sister, Martha Warren, of Omaha, NB.
Also, they are independent clauses, not phrases.
Thanks for writing.


Next time you are in line at the post office, look on the counter for a flier that says, "We want to know how we can help you?" It has been there for years, and it bothers me every time I go in.

Anne Wignall


Well, it is the post office!
Thanks for writing. If you happen to have a digital camera with you the next time you're in the post office, please take a photo and send it to me. I will post it on my web site and give you a photo credit.


Americans respond to National Punctuation Day® with photos of their most annoying punctuation gaffes.

Contact Jeff Rubin for more information about punctuation
(510) 724-9507