“Per un punto Martin perse la cappa” [popular Italian expression meaning that a small error can lead to dire consequences]

The great author Oscar Wilde wrote, ” I was working on the proof of one of my poems all the morning, and took out a comma. In the afternoon I put it back again.” Anyone can use punctuation properly, just pay close attention and follow a few rules. You can also set your own rules, however, you must use them consistently. Remember that a well-placed comma can make all the difference!

While it appears that the semicolon is falling into disuse – a theme much discussed in European newspapers a few years ago – we still have the colon (according to H. W. Fowler, the colon “delivers the goods that have been invoiced in the preceding words.”), the comma, the period, the ellipsis and the exclamation point (use with parsimony!), as well as parenthesis and dashes.

We must choose and assign a “role” to each type of punctuation mark and always use them in the same way. This will help our readers understand us better and distinguish between things said and unsaid. And do not be afraid to start a sentence with “and”, just as we have here!

Claudio Visentin and Guido Bosticco

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