Love letters and punctuation

I decided to organize my closet and purge it of everything that was unnecessary (unnecessary = I haven’t used it or looked at it in at least a year). There are exceptions to this purging rule: I can’t bring myself to discard any of the love letters I’ve received. I wish I could play it cool and be like, love letters? who cares. Turns out, I’m annoyingly sentimental in the love letter department.

I came across a box of letters dating back 20 years. Naturally, I had to read through a few of them. One thing that struck me was the way in which the lover addressed me. Some salutations really warmed my heart. Others, not so much.

Here’s what I learned from my recent re-readings:

When addressing your lover, use a comma. Some of the guys used dashes, double dashes, a series of dots, and even a tilde after writing my name. Ick!

I’ll demonstrate for you:

Dear Fern – (too clinical)

Dear Fern – – (weird)

Dear Fern … (comic book-like)

Dear Fern: (if the punctuation mark is also the name of a body part, don’t use it)

Dear Fern ~ (too girlie; not masculine enough)

Dear Fern >>>>> (annoying)

Dear Fern! (too much too soon)

Dear Fern (a complete lack of punctuation? shame on you!)

Dear Fern, (just right!)

One of my favorite essays of all time concerns punctuation. It’s written by Pico Iyer and published in Time Magazine, 1988. Check it out:

Bottom line: Guys, pay attention to punctuation when writing a letter to the one you adore.

p.s. ‘Fern’ is not my real name. I’ve just always wished it could be. 🙂


2 responses to “Love letters and punctuation

  1. I feel like I’ve missed out now. No one’s ever written me a love letter =(. Maybe an email or two, but it’s just not the same.

    The Time Magazine essay was beautifully written. It makes punctuation sound like a way to bring writing to life!

    Have you heard of ‘Eats, shoots and leaves’? Not so passionate, but it does well to illustrate the practical importance of punctuation: to distil ambiguity.

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