I have become addicted to using semicolons. I’m not sure why; I guess it’s because they’re convenient, and they help you avoid writing all those short, choppy sentences that can be born if you only use periods. A few years ago, I was addicted to using em-dashes. I don’t know what made me kick that addiction. I think I just got tired of seeing all those dashes everywhere, so I unconsciously made myself stop.
I know some people who can’t stand certain punctuation marks. My dad hates exclamation points. He thinks they should only be used only if you really, really do have something exciting to say. I have to agree with that, though I use exclamation points a lot, mostly with the word “thanks.” To me, saying “Thanks.” with a period could come off as sarcastic or showing that you’re not really grateful, so instead, I’ll say “thanks!” with an exclamation point… like in real life, you’d say “thanks” with a smile. But it’s a choice of personal preference, like so many editing matters. And if you’re writing or reading a children’s book, you’re more likely to see or use a multitude of question marks and exclamation points than you would while looking through an adult or YA book.
Punctuation is a tough concept to fully grasp. There are many who do not know what a semicolon is or how to use it correctly, and there’s no problem with that. A semicolon is a punctuation mark you can go without, but to me, it’s more convenient than using another type of punctuation. Editors will tell you to use exclamation marks and question marks sparingly because if you have a lot of them on the page, it can look like you don’t know what you’re talking about and it would be hard to take your writing seriously. It’s the same if you use too many semicolons or too many em-dashes. You might come off as pompous or trying too hard to be taken seriously when what you’re really doing is hindering your chances of being taken seriously.
Which punctuation marks do you use all the time? Which ones can you not stand?