It's all about the "lowly comma" and the "ever-mysterious ellipsis." Throw in the hyphen, brackets, semicolon or question mark. Do you know your 13 punctuation marks, what they mean, and how to use them?
That's one of the challenges for today's 8th Annual National Punctuation Day©. Founded by Pinole's Jeff Rubin, the Sept. 24 holiday is also hosting its writing contest.
Contest rules require contestants to "write a paragraph, maximum of three sentences, using these 13 punctuation marks: apostrophe, brackets, colon, comma, dash, ellipsis, exclamation point, hyphen, parentheses, period, question mark, quotation mark, and semicolon. You may use a punctuation mark more than once."
Entries can be emailed to Jeff@NationalPunctuationDay.com The deadline is Sept. 30. More details and a look at some of last year's winners are available at the NPD website. Hundreds of entries come from all over the world, according to the website. The prize is "a box of punctuation goodies."
There are other ways to celebrate National Punctuation Day:
- Organize punctuation activities at your school, library, or office.
- Share punctuation peeves at Jeff@NationalPunctuationDay.com
- Send photos of incorrectly punctuated signage to Jeff@NationalPunctuationDay.com.
"I started National Punctuation Day in 2004 because I was concerned that our language skills are declining," Rubin wrote in a column for the Missouri State Teachers Association. "Test scores confirm my suspicions. A study in 2007 by California State University-East Bay revealed that nearly 60 percent of incoming freshmen needed remedial English classes. Nationwide, 28 percent of incoming college freshmen enrolled in remedial classes, according to a 2004 report by the National Center for Education Statistics. This is unconscionable."
Since 2006, Rubin and his wife, Norma Martinez-Rubin, have performed Punctuation Playtime© , a fun learning experience in elementary schools, from coast to coast. They also have taken the program to China.