What do a comma splice, a period outside a quotation mark, and an over abundance of exclamation points have in common? They are all lame ducks.
Many experienced authors and newbie authors share the same fear: losing face with readers because of one (seemingly innocuous) punctuation error.
The mistake has the potential to pull down the entire article as well as the credibility of the author. Hence, the article becomes ineffective or unsuccessful – a lame duck.
There’s a solution! Why panic when you can strengthen your writing habits by identifying any lame ducks before you submit your article? Steer clear of these poor punctuation habits.
Lame Duck: Excessive use of exclamation points.
Often a result of attempting to create exciting and energized content, authors will use exclamation points with reckless abandon. The result: Content that’s on the verge of hysterics!!!! Use an exclamation point or mark for exclamations, commands, or sound effects and review your piece for wayward exclamation points.
Click here for more on the exclamation point.
Lame Duck: Excessive use of ellipses …
An informal ellipsis is used to indicate trailing-off, hesitation, to be continued, or to convey the passage of time. So … when you see it used in writing … in great amounts … it … leaves much … to be desired. Be clear, direct, and confident in your writing – skip the ellipses and use stronger punctuation when appropriate.
Click here for more on the ellipses.
Lame Duck: The comma splice.
Joining two independent clauses is not the job for a comma. The following is an example of comma splice: “The wombat looks like a small bear, they may appear friendly, but they can be vicious creatures.” Avoid this lame duck by joining two independent clauses together with a period, semicolon, or a conjunction (e.g., “The wombat looks like a small bear; they may appear friendly, but they can be vicious creatures.”
Click here for more on the comma.
Lame Duck: Using an apostrophe in pronominal possessives.
Even if you know the rule and you’re typing too fast or you simply let the apostrophe go to your head, pledge to place a little extra care spotting apostrophe errors. One of the most common errors is the dreaded apostrophe used to indicate possession in a pronominal possessive (e.g., “your’s” instead of “yours”). It’s downright embarrassing and redundant; a pronominal possessive is already possessive!
Click here for more on the apostrophe.
Lame Duck: Using a colon to separate a verb from its complement or separate a preposition from its object.
A verb (e.g., need) shouldn’t be separated from its complement (i.e., someone or something that completes the statement).
Walter needs: pants, a tie clip, and a ninja. (Lame Duck)
Walter needs pants, a tie clip, and a ninja. (Right)
Click here for more on the colon.
Lame Duck: Periods and commas ALWAYS go inside quotation marks.
It may not seem correct at times, but the comma and period always belong inside quotations marks. Other forms of punctuation (e.g., semicolons, question marks, and exclamation points) may vary, but the comma and period is a fairly straight-forward rule.
“I love you”. (Lame Duck)
“I love you.” (Right)
Click here for more on quotation marks.
Save face! Avoid these poor punctuation habits to strengthen your writing skills and build your credibility as an Expert Author. What punctuation errors do you commonly see? Would you like further clarification on any English grammar guidelines? Let us know by sharing your comments and questions below – we’d love to hear from you!