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'Taylor' Your Writing: Embrace Creative Punctuation PDF Print Email


July 6, 2011:  It's the end of the month, my article is due, and I'm traveling with seniors.  Lots of talk about digestion and ... colons!  Perfect.

Before working up to the colon, let's consider the basic uses of some of the other familiar types of punctuation:  commas, semicolons, dashes, and ellipses, each of which is used to express a pause of varying degree.

The comma, the most frequently used, separates a clause from a sentence and prevents a run-on sentence: "When I go to the park, I will watch the children play soccer."  The dependent clause, "When I go to the park," precedes the independent clause, "I will watch the children play soccer."  If the order is reversed, no comma is necessary:  "I will watch the children play soccer when I go to the park."  Commas are also used to separate independent clauses joined by a conjunction:  "I will watch the children play soccer, and I will go to the beach."  In lists, commas separate the enumerated items:  "The children play soccer, Frisbee, and baseball."  Note that the comma before "and" is known as a "serial comma" and is optional, depending upon the writer's preferred style.

The wonderful semicolon can link together thoughts that are connected but would be broken if written in two separate sentences:  "She wanted to go to the park to watch the children play soccer; instead, she went to the beach."  It can also be used in lists that have internal divisions marked by commas to show equal categories:  "She walked to the park; sipped a soda, ate some pretzels, and enjoyed ice cream; and then watched the movie."

The dash:  For a longer pause and more drama, use a dash:  "I will watch the children play soccer---but only if you bring along a radio."  Remember that a dash (called an "em dash" because it was the width of an "M") is different from a hyphen, which is shorter than an em dash and merely connects words, and an en dash, which is longer than a hyphen but shorter than an em dash and is often used to show a number range ("The final score was 22--0.").

The ellipsis:  Next, on to the ellipsis, a wonderful invention to mark a trailing-off thought, very useful if the conversation turns to colons ...

The colon:  Which brings me to my travels. The colon, that wonderful pause of pauses, indicates the main point or the example is yet to follow: "The park was beautiful, but the soccer-playing children wondered about the stranger: Was she there to observe or referee?"

A colon can also indicate that there are multiple examples to follow:  "The children wondered about the stranger: Was she there to observe? Or was she there to referee? Maybe she was a parent?"

So venture forth, embrace creative punctuation, and don't spare the colon.

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Books & the Arts Directory

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Fine Arts Gallery of Bronxville

The Fine Arts Gallery is a beautiful gallery in the heart of our village. It sells original art and specializes in local artists from Bronxville past and present. It provides high end custom framing, art consulting, restoration and appraisals. Appointments are available upon request. It also sells the Historical Conservancy Journals which include a history of the village as well as the artists who have lived here and are presenting living here ($20/copy).

99 Pondfield Road
Bronxville, New York 10708

The O'Silas Gallery at Concordia College

171 White Plains Road
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Books & Culture

Bronxville Public Library

The Bronxville Public Library traces its origins back to 1875, when it was a small lending library housed in a room attached to the “Bronxville Model School.” The Library was officially chartered in 1906 and moved into the Village Hall Building. The needs of the library grew with the town and, in 1942, a new standalone building was erected, which is where the Library is today. Over the years, the Library was renovated and expanded to meet the needs of the community.

The Library has wonderful resources for adults and children and offers a comfortable and relaxing environment. The Library also houses a fine art collection, consisting principally of Bronxville painters and sculptors.

The Library offers special events, art exhibitions, and programs for adults, young adults and children.  All events are open to the public, unless otherwise indicated.

The Bronxville Public Library
201 Pondfield Road (Midland Avenue & Pondfield Road)

Womrath Bookshop

Womrath Bookshop is a located in the heart of Bronxville village. In addition to selling books, the store also sell children's toys and holds readings both at the store and elsewhere in the community, such as at the Library.

76 Pondfield Road, Bronxville

(914) 337-0199

Music & Performing Arts Schools



Concordia Conservatory

Concordia Conservatory, a preeminent center for music education in Westchester County, is a welcoming community where children and adults find lifelong inspiration and joy through learning, performing, listening to, and participating with others in music. Concordia Conservatory, a community outreach division of Concordia College, offers top quality music programs for early childhood, youth, adults and seniors. The Conservatory's vision is to enrich the lives of the people in our community through music.

Executive Director: Kathleen Suss

Concordia Conservatory of Music & Art

Concordia College-New York

Phone: 914-395-4507

Crestwood Music Education Center

Crestwood Music Education Center, founded in 1987, has established itself as one of the most reputable and premier music schools in Westchester County with well over 800 students studying piano, guitar voice, Suzuki and much more. Their philosophy is to create a very positive, stimulating environment that gives each student the chance for creative self-expression. They believe in the importance of having a world-class faculty with extensive education as well as the teaching and performing experience that can only found in America's finest music schools.

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