In helping my child doing his homework, I was reflecting on the importance of punctuation marks in everyday speech and writing.  Question marks (Italian: punti di domanda) , comas (Italian: virgole), full stops (Italian: punti) and exclamation marks (Italian: punti esclamativi): we often use them without actually realize their proper function, it is a kind of mechanical use. And if we do not use them correctly? Ambiguity, lack of clarity, mistakes are the consequences .

There is a punctuation mark that has always strucked me: the exclamation mark (!). Maybe because it expresses feelings (surprise, anger, joy, pain..), it seems to me sincerer and,  thanks to A.Checov, it has become even nicer.

Anton Cechov (1860-1904)

There is indeed a beautiful short story by A.Cechov called “The Question Mark” (1885):

Mr. Perekladin is a Russian civil servant.  During a party before Christmas, he receives  some unpleasant comments about his competence on the correct use of punctuation. Once he comes back home, he starts questioning his forty-year experience in writing offical documents and spends the night sleepless, receiving the visits of some ghost-like punctuation marks. He recognizes all of them, except for the exclamation mark.

Her wife explains to him the correct use of exclamation marks: “to express enthusiasm, indignation, joy, anger, and other feelings…”. This way,  Mr. Perekladin realizes that he had been writing  thousands of official documents for years but  he had never used  exclamation marks as he had never had to express  feelings .  When he returns to his office, Mr. Perekladin  …

I would suggest reading this very short and nice story by Cechov and, for this reason, I ‘m not going to reveal here its conclusion and deprive you of the surprise.

And, never forget to add some exclamation marks to your life!!!