“Unnecessary” Punctuation

I don’t know about you, but when I see punctuation misused it hurts a little part of my heart. Some mistakes are understandable. For example, it can be tricky using the semicolon appropriately. Correct em dash usage is somewhat ambiguous. But quotation marks? Its purpose is right in the name. They are used for quotations.

Somehow, this particular punctuation mark has transcended its original AP guidelines and has come to be used for any word that needs to be “emphasized.” Incorrect usage of the quotation mark has become so ridiculous that fellow grammar geeks have even started their own blogs documenting the absurdity of this new “trend.” Check out www.unnecessaryquotes.com for some crazy pictures of actual signs found by readers. What exactly does “built in” camera imply, anyway?

So please, unless you want to end up in a blog post humiliating your lack of common grammar knowledge, think before you “quote.”

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7 responses to ““Unnecessary” Punctuation

  1. I know- exactly; “how you feel”…

  2. Wow. Some of these are great. What were some of these people even thinking? Did they never learn how to use quotation marks? Some of these don’t even make any sense. I like the “smoke free” campus one. Kinda sounds like Drake!

  3. That’s a funny site. I can’t believe how badly come people misuse quotation marks. It makes me a little sick.

  4. What about “air quotes”? Those are another “pet peeve” of mine. They’re just as annoying and sometimes even worse because they’re so “in your face”.
    And I love this site… grammar nerds unite!

  5. Some of those examples on the websites are just outright unnecessary quotes. They use quotation to just emphasize what every they want to. You are right, there’s no meaning!

    But when I imagine myself making quotation gesture saying those words, I don’t feel as much awkwardness. Of course, the meaning of those signs are still unknown, but it’s just not as awkward.

    Don’t you think it’s interesting that when you make a quotation gesture, it conveys a totally different meaning that when you’re using quotation marks?

  6. Uuuugh! There are so many things wrong with this. It can get pretty annoying, but I think what makes it worse is that it’s caught on. The fact that everyone does it almost makes it necessary sometimes, and that’s frustrating. As much as I hate to admit it, I do it too. I wouldn’t say that I go overboard, but still…
    The fact that we’ve incorporated it into speech is pretty interesting. And sad. Everyone knows what it means when you’re making the bunny ears wiggle. I mean, seriously–hasn’t anyone ever heard of intonaton?

    P.S. Tomorrow’s National Punctuation Day. Get excited!!!

  7. I think air quotes can be kind of funny in the right context, but unnecessary quotes in writing are irritating.

    I remember reading a few Sherlock Holmes stories in high school where the narrator told a story of someone telling a story within a story… or something like that. It annoys me when there are several quotation marks in a line, even when they are properly used. There’s a time and a place for everything, but I tend to shy away from quoting a person who is quoting a person.

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