Punctuation: Does it Matter?
Guest blogger: Michael Solow, Senior Director of Creative, contributes to the thinktanK12 blog in celebration of National Puncutation Day!
Happy National Punctuation Day!
In this age of the punctuation-challenged text message, tweet, and email, one wonders whether the craft of punctuation will, at some point, die out forever.
Granted, there are times when a hurried text without a comma, period, or missing capitalization will do the trick. (And yes, I have been guilty of the above, though I don’t like to admit it among fellow English majors.)
Nonetheless, it makes sense to point out that punctuation not only still exists, it exists for a good reason: to make sure your meaning is clear and what you – the writer – intended.
Take this classic example using the exact same set of words, and how the meaning changes completely when the punctuation changes:
1. A woman, without her man, is nothing.
2. A woman: without her, man is nothing.
So, there’s an example of punctuation not only changing meaning, but changing an entire personal philosophy!
Another example is the title of a popular (and entertaining) book about punctuation by Lynne Truss titled, “Eats, Shoots and Leaves.” Of course, if you’ve written that phrase, intending to describe the eating habits of some woodland critter that “eats shoots and leaves” for dinner, then that errant comma after “eats” has just radically changed your meaning to imply a person who has eaten, picked up a gun, fired it, and skedaddled away.
So, as you can see, punctuation not only matters. In a number of instances, it matters a lot.
Can you think of a funny error in punctuation that changes the intended meaning? Please share it here with us!