Today I read “Ask Amy” in The Seattle Times. Amy was giving advice to someone who could not set boundaries for herself. I liked Amy’s advice, but her punctuation–or lack of it–grabbed my attention.
Which punctuation mark would you add to the sentence below? After you decide, scroll down to read my ideas.
Hint: Several different marks would be correct.
When you’re really ready to stop, you won’t feel terrible–you’ll feel liberated.
When you’re really ready to stop, you won’t feel terrible; you’ll feel liberated.
When you’re really ready to stop, you won’t feel terrible: You’ll feel liberated.
When you’re really ready to stop, you won’t feel terrible. You’ll feel liberated.
Each mark communicates slightly differently. The dash is breezy and informal. The semicolon communicates a sense of calm and order. The colon says, “And here’s why.” The period says, “Stop and think about this. Then I’ll enlighten you.”
The original sentence–without punctuation between the two parts–is wrong. It’s considered a run-on.
Which punctuation mark did you insert? Which mark do you think Amy intended? No doubt she had inserted punctuation, but somehow it dropped out.
If you want to learn more about correct punctuation, take my online self-study course Punctuation for Professionals. To proofread more effectively (and find errors in “Ask Amy”!), take Proofread Like a Pro.