Saturday, February 2, 2013

A Fine Line

While most writers use exclamation points judiciously, many people apply them liberally to sentence endings.This punctuation mark confers various meanings, and the difference between a period and an exclamation point may be a fine line. 

A few weeks ago, I emailed the admissions department at The Berklee College of Music to inquire about an error on Jeremy’s application status page. His application fee had been marked both as paid and outstanding. I received a courteous reply acknowledging the receipt of the application fee. The email ended with, “Jeremy should be receiving a decision on January 31st!” 

I thought hard about that final exclamation point. Was it a mark of random enthusiasm, or was it a hint to reassure an overanxious mother? I decided it was the latter, but told no one. It would sound crazy. I’d be accused of overthinking arbitrary punctuation. 

It turns out, I was right, and I thank the kind administrator who nourished my little kernel of hope through the month of January.

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