Sunday, March 22, 2009

Those Tempting Exclamation Points

I recently received a question about when the use of an exclamation point is appropriate. I've already written about that tempting little punctuation mark on my website, but it never hurts to repeat a warning. Do not overuse the exclamation point!

And please, please, please, do not use multiple exclamation points!!!!

What's the harm, you ask? Between friends, in an email perhaps, there's no real harm. But in writing for people outside your immediate sphere, whether you're writing fiction or nonfiction (and especially in the business world), the exclamation point should be avoided. 

There might be a legitimate reason for using an exclamation point if one were writing a user's manual and it was necessary to warn of a potential danger, although even then, I'd suggest writing the word in all caps (DANGER!).  Oops. See that exclamation point at the end of DANGER? I found I just couldn't write the word "Danger" followed by a simpering little period. In addition to screaming the word by using all caps, I needed to emphasize it by adding that exclamation point.  

So you see, they really are tempting little punctuation marks.  All we can do is try to avoid them. Sigh!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Are you eager or anxious?

Few people these days appear to worry about the correct usage of "eager" versus "anxious," especially in speech, but the careful writer should take note of the difference between the two and use the appropriate word. The word "anxious" implies that there is some degree of anxiety involved in the situation. Additionally, "anxious" is followed by "about" or "for" while "eager" is followed by "to." Thus, one would not be "anxious to go to the new play that has been getting such good reviews." You would be "eager to go" although you might be "anxious about fighting the crowd" when you get there.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

A Day Late

I just missed (by ten minutes) blogging on National Grammar Day during the actual day itself (March 4). You didn't know there is a National Grammar Day? Neither did I until yesterday. If you'd like to know more, you can do a search and easily find it online. It's an interesting site with lots of good information.

And maybe next year, I'll manage to mention National Grammar Day on the day itself. Or here's a thought: maybe even on the day before.

In any case, I hope you enjoy the site, or that you have at least learned something new: There's a National Grammar Day.