Commas, semicolons, and colons—oh, my!

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

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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).

However, misuse of commas is among the top grammar mistakes that writers around the world are making, according to a recent audit of English writers. When all is said and done, there are 28 different types of comma mistakes that English writers can make.

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