Today is National Punctuation Day. Yes, there really is such a day (it’s the sixth annual one, actually), and grammar geeks like me are celebrating. There’s even a national baking contest where contestants are supposed to bake something in the shape of a punctuation mark.
Lynne Truss, the author of the best-selling book Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation, says that “[P]unctuation is a courtesy designed to help readers understand a story without stumbling.” It’s a courtesy that applies not only to stories, of course, but to any written product – letters, articles, memos, briefs, and emails. Punctuation clarifies the writer’s meaning. Take these seven words: A woman without her man is nothing. There are two very different readings of this sentence, depending on how it is punctuated. It could be: A woman, without her man, is nothing. Or it could be: A woman: without her, man is nothing. What a difference punctuation makes!
What’s your favorite punctuation mark?