Waiting in Line!

More Things Teenagers Say: How to Use Punctuation

So I’m driving with my daughter and her friend a few weeks ago (right on the cusp of National Punctuation Day!) and they begin comparing notes on the use of punctuation in texts. It was actually quite entertaining! Now I do plenty of texting and lots of emails, but I never realized that there was such a hard, fast set of parameters for this activity. If you think about it – it makes sense. Whether we like it or not, our teenagers might start dating, fight, talk and even break-up all via text. The punctuation is crucial to understanding the context of the text conversation. These punctuation rules also spill over into Facebook and Twitter.

Waiting in Line!
Waiting in Line!

Later that evening, I took a photo of my daughter and her friend waiting in line to enter a concert. It was an artsy photo taken with Hipstamatic and I wanted to post it on my Facebook page.  Now, I’m thinking I’m cool because:  1) I have Hipstamatic on my phone and I took a cool photo with it; and 2) I actually know how to upload the cool photo to my Facebook page right from my smart phone to alert my friends (and hers) to our current status! But, no, I wasn’t cool at all because when I typed, “waiting in line.” I was told I sounded mad: “let me have that!” my 16 year old exclaimed. She quickly deleted the post and then reposted it on my Facebook page this way: “Waiting in line!” See the difference?

Smiley face

Here are the rules of punctuation as explained to me by my teenage daughter:

  • Use periods only when you are being serious or mad;
  • Use commas to break up thoughts;
  • Use dashes to break up more intense thoughts or to separate bigger topics;
  • Exclamation points convey excitement but don’t use them too much because you get annoying;
  • Use question marks when you have a question;
  • Don’t use abbreviations out of context –  some parents throw them in (ie: brb – be right back) when responding to their teens to be cool. (It’s not cool – don’t do it!);
  • A winky face is never to be used by a parent to a child – why ?- just don’t do it 😉
  • You can use a smiley face when you’re trying to be sweet – but don’t overdo it!

7 thoughts on “More Things Teenagers Say: How to Use Punctuation

  1. I’m so glad I have these tools now, Laura. What did I do before now? I’m putting a winky smiley face here: ;). That’s cool, right? Though I don’t do facebook or twitter, at least now I now proper decorum should the occasion ever arise.

  2. I enjoyed this. I agree that punctuation placement is important. I have responded to many people asking them if they’re angry because of misplaced “!” . Thanks for sharing and hope the concert was worth the wait in line.

    1. Hi Elizabeth – the girls had a great time at the concert! Waiting in line with them was actually part of the fun! (happy exclamation points!) 🙂

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