Commas, semicolons, and colons—oh, my!

Specifics about how to use these three punctuation marks can be confusing. Here’s some help.

You probably cannot imagine distributing a press release or mailing a “Dear Investor” letter that includes a typo, but most communication professionals have experienced the embarrassment of doing just that.

Punctuation errors can be as easy to overlook as the misspelling that lingered through two versions of that white paper before your colleague caught and corrected it. That’s why it is so important to understand when to use the comma, the semicolon, or the colon in your writing—before you press send, publish, or “remove from hold.”

Communicating with commas

A 1965 Warriner’s textbook lists the comma as the most frequently used punctuation mark, and many writers have a tendency to overuse it. In November, the Grammarly team polled more than 1,700 job-seekers and professionals on what punctuation they most like to include in their writing. The semicolon (13 percent), em dash (10 percent), and period (8 percent) were top contenders; yet, overwhelmingly we learned that English writers are most thankful for the comma (45 percent).

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