Punctuation in Poetry: Rules and Common Mistakes

punctuation marks in poetry

The dispute around grammar and punctuation in poetry is well-known to any writer. Some of them choose to violate the grammar laws to achieve new types of meanings and ideas. Others write strictly according to the rules. The formatting may also play quite an important role when it comes to such form as haiku or sonnet. The fact is that if you want to break any rules, you need to know what exactly you are playing with. The creative approach is great when it comes to interpretation, but it should be done with taste. That’s why it is important to know the grammar and you can use an amazing tool such as a plagiarism detector for grammar and plagiarism detection.

First Things First: How to Punctuate the Poem Title

Poem punctuation follows simple English language rules. If you are citing someone’s poetry, use quotation marks to notate the title.

For example: “The Raven” by Edgar Allan Poe

Another critical thing to remember when citing title – follow the original punctuation. Poetry punctuation rules do not include putting commas at the end of the title.

Capitalization in poetry is the same as in prose or other types of writing. You should use capital letters for the first word in every new line. Plus, use capitalized words in titles except for conjunctions, prepositions, and articles. The only exception is when the preposition is the first or the last word. There is, however, a tradition to capitalize prepositions that are more than five letters long. You can convert case correctly with our automatic title capitalization tool.

Read also: Writing an Autobiography with Edubirdie!

10 Typical Grammar Mistakes in Poetry

There are several mistakes in poetry grammar that lots of us do. Although we are all humans and no one is perfect, avoiding them is what you should aim for. Correct grammar is vital in any form of writing, whether it is a poem, a creative paper, or any piece produced by academic ghostwriting services.

1. Commas in poems

The most common mistake comes when we cite someone’s works. Be careful and cite the work as it is. The way the poem is written makes an artistic style of its author. And they don’t always follow the rules!

For example, poet E.E. Cummings consciously violated the rules of punctuation in poetry and rejected capital letters.

So when you are citing, remember the original. Also not to forget to follow commas in dates. When you want to use day, month and year in your poem, you have to put comma. 

2. Subject-Verb agreement

This is another embarrassing mistake. Even native-speaking students forget it sometimes.

For example:

Incorrect: He have been studying for seven hours.

Correct: He has been studying for seven hours.

3. Introductory element

If you start your sentence with an introductory word, it should be followed by a comma.

For example:

Incorrect: Before he even got the mail he went straight to his study.

Correct: Before he even got the mail, he went straight to his study.

4. Its and It’s

This mistake emerged mainly in poetry grammar because of texting and communication through social media. We started to simplify the language, and that’s why the apostrophe isn’t always where it should be. When you mean “it is,” or “it has” – write “it’s.” If you mean belonging – write “its.”

Incorrect: Its been seven years since I saw you!

Correct: It’s been seven years since I saw you!

5. Compound sentences punctuation

When it comes to punctuation in compound sentences, don’t forget about a comma between two parts of it. It is not a place for creativity. Even if the second part is a new verse, there should be a comma.

Incorrect: They were happy and they were in love and they enjoyed life.

Correct: They were happy, and they were in love, and they enjoyed life.

6. Wrong words

Sometimes our mind plays tricks on us, and we use the inappropriate word that sounds correct, but in fact, it is not.

For example:

accepted/excepted or night/knight.

Always check you’ve got everything right in your poem.

7. Too many commas

Yes, it is a mistake in the poem punctuation too. Rephrasing one quotation, we can put it this way: Punctuation is a good thing, but it should always be practiced in moderation. Remember, that some words don’t require a preceding comma such as “because” and “or.”

Incorrect: I went to college, because I wanted to study Literature.

Correct: I went to college because I wanted to study Literature.

8. Spacing

When it comes to formatting, you need to leave space after words, commas, and periods. People often forget about this mistake.

Incorrect: And loved,beneath the sun

Correct: And loved, beneath the sun

9. They’re, Their, There

This is another result of texting and digital language simplification. Lots of people misuse these three words:

They’re – they are

Their – belongs to them

There – place, location

Make sure not to misuse these tree words in your punctuation in poems. These examples below can help you memorize their usage better:

Incorrect: There very talented and interesting people.

Correct: They’re very talented and interesting people.

10. Me and I

This one can be a bit tricky. Sometimes it is hard to define what pronoun to use in your poetry when it comes to sentences like these:

Incorrect: After you are done with your presentation, give it to Liza and I.

Correct: After you are done with your presentation, give it to Liza and me.

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Why Do Poems Have Punctuation?

In short – punctuation in poetry is used to show pauses. There are six common punctuation forms:

  • period 
  • comma 
  • question mark 
  • exclamation point 
  • dash
  • semicolon.

The idea is to use them for different types of breaks. The largest pause is a period, of course. The smallest one is a comma.

The full period indicates that while reading something aloud, it is time to make a pause and breathe in. Plus, pauses divide stanzas from each other. They are used for aesthetic reasons sometimes too. And they show the end of lines.

Punctuation in poems is as essential as other means of creativeness. They help you understand and comprehend a piece.

Read Also: Guide on Perfect Writing a Literary Analysis Essay

What not to Forget When Using Punctuation?

Everyone should know how to punctuate a poem – this will not only improve the readability of your piece, it will help you communicate your thoughts and ideas much clearer. Grammar can also contribute to how you express yourself as an author. Plus, it helps you to be correct when you want to. Remember, grammatical mistakes, and failure to stick to the rules of punctuation in poetry is lousy and can make your metaphors incomprehensible.

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