In Defense of Punctuation

A friend of mine the other day pointed me to this article: Will We Use Commas in the Future?

Wait What

Yes, Sherlock, that was my reaction, too. As you can tell from that last sentence: I love commas! I put them everywhere! I think commas are vitally important!

Let me be perfectly clear: Do we, strictly speaking, *need* commas? Well, no. In most circumstances, what we want to say is perfectly clear, commas or no. Which is the point of that article. On Twitter (and Tumblr, too), punctuation falls by the wayside and nobody gets confused. Communication moves on.

But just because things *can* be done quickly and with corner-cutting doesn’t mean they *should* be done that way. Not all the time. There’s a time and a place for the pre-made chocolate cake but there’s also a time and a place for the one you bake in your own oven. They each have advantages, but I wouldn’t want to just choose one for the rest of my life. (Even if you’re not a baker–and I admit I am–wouldn’t you want *someone else* to make your a homemade cake every once in a while? You know you would.)

So that’s why I love commas. I may not use them all the time. In fact, I may send crazy tweets and Tumblrs and e-mails that are all in caps and ignore all rules of grammar. But, when I’m writing a story, I use commas. I use periods, and question marks, and exclamation points, and apostrophes, and even semi-colons. I may not always use them correctly, following strict rules, but that’s not even the point. I use them sometimes to throw pauses into dialogue, to try to transcribe what it sounds like in my head, to make the reader slow down or speed up, luxuriate in a section or feel the frenetic pace build. I’m all for commas. If we lost them, we’d lose something vitally warm and vibrant about our written communication, something that makes it a little bit closer to having a chat with an old friend.


Skylar is a native Rhode Islander who fully believes that the best type of ice cream shake is called a cabinet (and she prefers a chocolate one). Boston gave her a degree in English (from Boston College), a degree in law (from Harvard), and the setting for her first novel, THE GIRL WHO NEVER WAS, about a teenager who finds out she’s half-faerie-princess and half-ogre. Skylar loves tea (hot and iced), breakfast for dinner, and the Red Sox. You can find her wasting time on Twitter and Tumblr.

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