My 5 Favorite Punctuation Marks and Why You Should Love Them Too

Full disclaimer: This list is 100 percent biased based on my own writing style and is in no way backed up by any type of science or reality. Lots of people have lots of opinions about grammar and sentence structure, and it just so happens that my writing style is unnecessarily long and luxurious and requires lots of different punctuation marks to make any sense. With that said, here are my five favorite punctuation marks and how I use them.

  1. 1. The Oxford Comma

    Let's just get the controversial one out of the way first. Many organizations have debated for a long time about whether it is better to include or not include the last comma when writing out a list, but let me just say that no one could ever convince me to stop using the Oxford comma – not over my cold, dead, and lifeless body. I don't have a super concrete reason as to why I feel so strongly about it – other than a) it just feels right and b) "I went to lunch with my parents, Barack Obama, and Betty White," is a TOTALLY different sentence than "I went to lunch with my parents, Barack Obama and Betty White."

  2. 2. The Semicolon

    As I mentioned, I like to write really long, flowy sentences that end long after a sentence probably should. Now there's nothing inherently wrong with this, unless you fall victim to the run-on sentence; semicolons are a great way to continue a thought without being interrupted by a period while still playing by the rules of grammar.

  3. 3. The Regular Comma

    Many English teachers will tell you commas are the enemy and to remove them at all costs. In fact, I had a teacher once who used to "charge $5" per comma and write up a bill at the end of every essay. However, when used correctly and purposefully they are quite useful, and can help your writing flow nicely rather than the choppiness that can come from short sentences and too many periods.

  4. 4. The Dash

    The dash, semicolon's cousin, is basically a dramatic comma – if you're trying to make a point but once again, like me, disagree with the harshness of a period in the middle of a profound thought, a dash is the way to go.

  5. 5. Quotation Marks

    This punctuation mark isn't particularly noteworthy, but I'd like to take advantage of the opportunity for a short PSA. It can be tricky to know where to place commas, periods, exclamation points, etc. in conjunction with quotation marks, so here's my reminder: "When writing a quote, make sure you always place your punctuation marks inside the quotation mark," said Katrina. "That way, all of your sentences will be grammatically correct!"