An email from Writers’ Digest arrived earlier this week, to remind me that today is National Punctuation Day.  According to the website, today is:  “A celebration of the lowly comma, correctly used quotes, and other proper uses of periods, semicolons, and the ever-mysterious ellipsis.”

In order to help us properly celebrate the day, the website offers “punctuation products” including t-shirts, latte mugs, greeting cards, and wall posters for teachers.  (These are very droll;  check them out at your own risk.)

There are also, of course, resources on how to properly use the various forms of punctuation.  I think that these are very useful, and I know that many of the suggested books rest on the bookshelves of writers everywhere.  (So I’m not mocking this part.)

The Punctuation Playtime Program is a participatory workshop that will allow children to have fun while learning the proper use of punctuation.  This includes a “punctuation rap”, which is actually a pretty clever idea.  The sample activities that the creators of this “national day” have devised sound like they would be a nice change from dry old grammar lessons.

Jeff Rubin, the founder of National Punctuation Day, offers a tongue-in-cheek list of ways that we can celebrate today. First, he advises, sleep late.  What better way, I ask you, to start any day?  Some of the other activities he recommends are to stroll leisurely while noting merchant signs that are improperly punctuated, then to stop at those merchants to inform the owners of their punctuational errors.  Leave notes, he advises, if the owner is not there.

Rubin originally started National Punctuation Day as a way to get business and professional people to pay more attention to their punctuation.  After all, in a legal document, an improperly placed comma can cost millions.  Even in everyday writing, the placement of a punctuation mark can completely change the meaning of a sentence.  For example, compare, “Let’s eat, Mommy” to “Let’s eat Mommy”.  Or “Quality service and attention to detail” with “Quality, service, and attention to detail.”  Other examples can be found here.

My original idea with this post was to mock the very idea that there should be such a thing as National Punctuation Day.  But as I checked out the website and thought more about it, the more I realized that it’s a very creative and clever idea.  After all, understanding punctuation is important to both reading and writing, and our literacy rates in North America are nothing to be proud of.  (Of which to be proud, I mean.)

If proclaiming a day for punctuation helps our children (and us!) to learn how to use punctuation properly, then I’m all for it.  If nothing else, check out the photos of actual examples of poor grammar, like these:

And yes, I am a grammar nerd.  Word.

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