Sep. 24 is National Punctuation Day. Period.
Jeff Rubin birthed National Punctuation Day — the occasion is not an officially recognized holiday — in 2004 to celebrate the underappreciated art of correct grammar. Rubin's official website for the day describes the day as "a celebration of the lowly comma, correctly used quotation marks, and other proper uses of periods, semicolons, and the ever-mysterious ellipses."
Rubin offers a cheeky checklist of ways to celebrate National Punctuation Day, including correcting store owners with errors in their stores' signage, circling the local newspaper's mistakes, writing an error-free letter to a friend, and lots of naps and bath time.
But to celebrate correctly, participants should brush up on their punctuation principles. Here are a few of the most common errors and how to spot them:
Without a comma in a place where it needs to be, sentences can become run-on blocks of text without any breaks, which can lead to some confusion. For example, writing "I love cooking, my dog, and my wife" describes three things that you value, while writing "I love cooking my dog and my wife" makes you a monster.
Hyphens can be used as a compound modifier, linking two or more words that express a single concept, preceding a noun. Forgetting a hyphen, however, can flip the meaning of a sentence completely.
Adding an "s" to a noun often converts the singular noun to its plural form, but adding an apostrophe and an "s" makes the noun possessive, not plural. Even when a singular noun ends in s, an apostrophe and an "s" is not the way to go. The plural of "glass" is "glasses," not "glass's." But if you did want to make "glass" possessive, you would simply add an apostrophe to get "glass'."
Your Vs. You're
One of the most common grammatical mistakes out there is mixing up "your" and "you're." "You're" denotes possession, as in "that is your book." But "you're" is the contraction of "you are" and is a subject-verb predicate. If you can not keep it straight, then "you're probably bothering people with your poor punctuation."
Quotation marks only denote that the phrase contained between the quotation marks is, you know, a quote. If you are not relaying the words of another person or source, then you are misusing them. Quotation marks can not be used to add emphasize to a word. In fact, when someone does that, they are often mistaken for communicating the "air quote" equivalent of the punctuation, which is often used to express irony. Someone eating a tofu burger, for example, might describe it as a "burger." But that use is not technically a correct use ... and you can quote us on that.