Magazine September 30, 2019, Issue

The Art of Punctuation

From the cover of Semicolon (Ecco)
Semicolon: The Past, Present, and Future of a Misunderstood Mark, by Cecelia Watson (Ecco, 224 pp., $19.99)

Each of us has his or her own history with punctuation. For the first 18 or so years of my life I attempted to get by with as little of it as possible. This meant that I availed myself of three items of punctuation, and three only: capital letters at the beginning of sentences, periods and occasionally question marks at their close. I viewed anything more exotic as a minefield of potential error, easily caught by disapproving teachers, to my embarrassment and ultimate degradation. In college, I hesitatingly began to make use of commas, chiefly after introductory clauses. I soon

To Read the Full Story
Joseph Epstein — Mr. Epstein is the author, most recently, of Gallimaufry, a Collection of Essays, Reviews, Bits.

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