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There are rules for punctuation, but we don’t always agree on them

Punctuation symbols made out of colorful candy sprinkles representing swearwords on pink background.
Juj Winn/Getty Images
Moment RF

Should people use the Oxford comma? Is there a correct number of exclamation points per email? If someone ends a casual text with a period, does that mean they’re mad at you?

This hour: punctuation and how we use it. We talk about the history of punctuation marks, timeless punctuation debates, and how writing for texts and emails has changed the way we use punctuation.


  • Raquel Benedict: Claims to be the most dangerous woman in speculative fiction; she’s the host of the Rite Gud podcast
  • Claire Cock-Starkey: Author of Hyphens and Hashtags: The Stories Behind The Symbols On Our Keyboard
  • Julia Pistell: Founding member of Sea Tea Improv, one of the hosts of the Literary Disco podcast, and a producer freelancing with us

The Colin McEnroe Show is available as a podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts. Subscribe and never miss an episode!

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Colin McEnroe, Jonathan McNicol, and Cat Pastor contributed to this show, which originally aired November 3, 2021.

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Lily is the senior producer for The Colin McEnroe Show. She first worked at Connecticut Public as an intern in 2014. She has previously worked for WBUR, KUNC and as a producer for the New England News Collaborative's weekly show Next. Lily can be reached at ltyson@ctpublic.org.
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