When I approached this task, writing a post about favorite and least favorite punctuation, the first step I took was to look up a list of punctuation marks so I could make sure I was choosing from a complete list. I discovered that in the English language there are 14 punctuation marks. 14 seemed surprisingly low considering how much time I spent throughout elementary and middle school staring at the blackboard while my teacher lectured for (what seemed like) hours on the four types of commas.
Despite my initial disbelief, I was still sure of my choice for least favorite punctuation mark: the exclamation point. (!) The exclamation point is and always will be the most unoriginal, lazy way to send a message. If you’re using language effectively and efficiently, the words should be strong enough to convey your message by themselves. If you think about it, every other type of punctuation has a unique purpose. The apostrophe makes contractions possible and denotes possession. Colons and commas both separate thoughts and eliminate confusion. Quotation marks bring life to dialogue. But the exclamation point? It modestly alters the tone of the sentence to make it slightly more impactful. There is nothing the exclamation point can do that a can’t be accomplished by a well-worded sentence.
My disdain for the exclamation point is quite different from my admiration for the semicolon. (;) Maybe it’s because of its complicated rules or antiquated origins, but I enjoy that the use of the semicolon is reserved for writers who make an effort to really understand it. People who do not actively pursue writing or care for proper grammar and punctuation usage never attempt to use the semicolon. It eloquently strings independent clauses together; this is no easy task for many writers. It’s as if the semicolon is the Hamptons of punctuation marks (for reference, the exclamation point is about equivalent to Fort Lauderdale full of spring breakers).
For many, punctuation rules can confuse many young writers. Once mastered, however, punctuation has the power to give new meaning to writing. period.