Super Grammar: January 2011

Sunday, January 16, 2011


-->(We’ve already talked a little bit about how we’re planning on using super-teams in Super Grammar, but here we have the beginnings of our first super-team line-up.  This super-team is called The Super Symbols, and they are, of course, the punctuation marks that we need, and greatly rely on, to write our sentences.  These guardians of punctuation will all share a similar style uniform which will serve to distinguish them from the other super-teams.  Currently, we have four of the twelve super symbol team members pictured here, but we’ll be adding more characters to this line-up image soon, so stay tuned.)  
Never—ever—underestimate the power of punctuation! They may be small, and they may not be words, but these guys have a lot to say in your sentences.  These super symbols give great functionality, clarity, and resolution to each and every one of your sentences.  Each punctuation symbol has a specific power, and once you've mastered their code, The Super Symbols of punctuation will work to keep your sentences bullet-proof.


Friday, January 7, 2011

The Exclamation Point

-->From time to time, everyone needs a sentence which can really stand out above all the rest.  It's the kind of sentence that really makes you sit up and take notice.  It commands your attention, demands your respect, and refuses to be ignored. There is only one member of The Super Symbols Super-Team with the punctuation power to give an entire sentence this kind of extraordinary emphasis. This bold hero of intensity is: The Exclamation Point!
The Exclamation Point is the strongest, and loudest, punctuation that can be used to end a sentence.  When you see him, it means that the sentence you’re reading has something very important, very emotional, or very urgent to say.  The Exclamation Point can also mean that you’ve turned the volume up on a sentence, so it’s often used to show when someone is yelling, shouting, or screaming.  

I’m not kidding!

Back to the point, he’s simply the perfect punctuation to use when you need an important sentence to stand out and be noticed, so remember, the next time you need to end a sentence with power—call on The Exclamation point!

The Exclamation Point is the strongest member of the Sentence Ending Team, and he has the power to give a sentence strong emotion and strong emphasis.

  • Emphasis
  • Urgency
  • Emotion
  • Commands


I am master of this planet!



I need my power pack, now!



I hate giant spiders!



Hold it right there!


This punctuation hero should be used sparingly because the more you use The Exclamation Point in a consecutive series of sentences, the weaker and less effective he becomes.


You rescued me from that monster!  I didn’t even know I was in danger!  If it weren’t for you, I’d be a goner for sure!  Thank you for saving my life!

Weak: If every sentence has an exclamation point, then none of them stands out as being important or special.  Also, using too many exclamation points can make it seem like you’re constantly shouting for no good reason.

You rescued me from that monster.  I didn’t even know I was in danger.  If it weren’t for you, I’d be a goner for sure.  Thank you for saving my life!

Strong: only one exclamation point to emphasis the most important sentence.

It can be very tempting to always use the exclamation point, but remember, it’s the better part of valor if you don’t. 
Before we decided on the unified look of the Super Symbols team, we explored having a unique look for each of the characters.  This is one of the early design sketches where we were having fun exploring the possibilities of The Exclamation Point's emphatic personality.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Question Mark

Are you looking for answers?  If so, The Question Mark is on your side.
The Question Mark is a very curious superhero.  This inquisitive piece of punctuation constantly seeks the answers to all of life’s questions, big and small.  He wants to know: who, when, where, and why? which one, how many, and for how long? would we, could we, should we, have we?  All of these questions—and a whole lot more—are possible because of this knowledge seeking hero, The Question Mark.

So, if you're looking for answers, you should definitely team up with this investigative and interrogative hero because he has the perfect power to help you find them.

The Question Mark is a member of The Sentence Ending Team, and he has the power to turn any sentence into a question.


Where are the diamonds?

Who dropped the stink bomb?

When is doomsday happening this year?

Before you think that The Question Mark is totally in the dark about everything, you should know about his ability to use a rhetorical* question.  

The rhetorical question gives The Question Mark the power to ask a question that he already knows the answer to.  The Question Mark uses this power when he wants to emphasis a point, be clever, or just plain be a super smarty-pants.

 Is it any wonder he's our hero?

Rhetorical question: emphasizing a point

How many lumps would you like, one or two?

Rhetorical question: being clever

Do you still think capes are a good idea?

Rhetorical question: being a super smarty-pants

*Rhetorical [ri-tor-i-kuhl] means that you’re using words and/or sentences in an artistic, flashy, skillful, and (sometimes) tricky way.

The Comma

Let us take pause to appreciate one of the most useful, versatile, and nimble members of punctuation, The Comma.
The Comma, though slight in stature, has tremendous strength and agility.  She can appear several times in the same sentence performing a multitude of different functions which help give that sentence greater structure, stability, and clarity.  If you underestimate her capabilities, then you do so at your own peril. 

The Comma has an array of useful powers.  Among them are the abilities to separate words or groups of words that occur in a series (like when you're making a list of three or more items: "I'm strong, fast, and fearless.").  Her stronger powers include being able to join phrases and dependent clauses to the main clause of a sentence.

The Comma is very well known for teaming up with her ally, The Conjunction.  They join forces to correctly join two or more independent clauses into one solid sentence.  Neither of them is strong enough to do this task on their own, but together, they get the job done with ease.  Also, The Comma is always ready to assist The Interjection and The Adjective whenever they’re in need of her help.

  • To separate words in a series (A.K.A. the serial comma)
  • With a coordinating conjunction
  • After an interjection
  • To separate multiple adjectives
  • When directly addressing a person



I need a mask, a cape, some gloves, and stretchy pants!

commas: to separate three or more words or groups of words in a series


Give me the money, or things will get ugly.

commas: place before a coordinating conjunction


Wow, that’s super sticky.

commas: after an interjection


Do not press that large, ominous button.

commas: to separate multiple adjectives

Captain Catch, you saved my life.

commas: when directly addressing a person (at the beginning of a sentence)

You’re my hero, Captain Catch.

commas: when directly addressing a person (at the end of a sentence)


If you don’t use a comma between two items, they’re considered a single unit. 


Mr. Crook, Mr. Bandit and Mr. Thief will each get an equal share of the loot.

There’s no comma between Mr. Bandit and Mr. Thief, so they’re a single unit.
This means Mr. Crook gets 50%, Mr. Bandit gets 25%, and Mr. Thief gets 25%.
In this sentence, the three criminals did not actually get equal shares of the loot.


Mr. Crook, Mr. Bandit, and Mr. Thief will each get an equal share of the loot.

There’s a comma separating each criminal, so they’re each a single unit.   
This means Mr. Crook gets 33%, Mr. Bandit gets 33%, and Mr. Thief gets 33%.
In this sentence, the three criminals got equal shares of the loot.

They say that crime doesn’t pay, but it will pay even less if you don’t use your commas correctly.

Monday, January 3, 2011

The Period

The Period is a member of the super-team called The Super Symbols.  He's one of the smallest symbols which you'll ever see in a sentence, but this pint-sized punctuation can stop any sentence of any size without ever breaking a sweat.  This hero is also known for getting the job done with no fuss, no grandstanding, and with no questions asked.  If you see The Period, you’ll know without a doubt that the sentence you’re reading has ended.

As a member of The Sentence Ending Team, The Period can stop any sentence of any size, and he lets the reader know that the sentence has come to a full stop. 



I’ll stop him.

The Period can end very short sentences.


I’ll stop him from breaking the law, and I’ll bring him to justice.

The Period can end medium sized sentences.


I’ll stop him from breaking the law, and I’ll bring him to justice because, as this city’s most diligent crime fighter, it’s my self-imposed and sworn duty to boldly stand against tyranny, corruption, and all other forms of unspeakable evils which threaten to shatter the delicate balance of peace and order, but first, I’m going to need a bowling ball, two banana peels, and a net.

And thankfully, The Period can end very long sentences too.

No matter how short, sensible, or ridiculously long a sentence is, The Period can make it stop.