Wednesday, April 25, 2012


Posted by Linda

My high school English teacher said to put a comma in a sentence to indicate a pause. Because of that simple advice, I scored very high on the English part of my college entrance exam. Since then, however, I've learned a few more rules about commas and other punctuation.

As a writer, I purchase many grammar books that sit on my shelves as reference material, such as Strunk and White's The Elements of Style. I use it frequently as a quick guide. I'm not a "punctuation stickler" but I run in the race.

Look at the title of the pictured book. It looks fine until you realize it describes a panda bear. The joke on the back tells of a panda who "walks into a cafe. He orders a sandwich, eats it, and then draws a gun and fires two shots into the air. " When a waiter asks why, he throws a poorly punctuated wild life manual over his shoulder and says, "I'm a panda" . . . . .Look it up." In the manual the waiter finds a description written as shown on the title of this book.

Many may read the phrase and see nothing wrong. The panda tries to eliminate the problem, a misplaced comma. British editor/writer, Lynne Truss, approaches punctuation through history and her "stickler" attitude. It is a truly funny, fun read.

Truss explains that Greek dramatists two thousand years ago, added commas so actors would know when to pause. Thus a modern day slogan explains why cats aren't commas.

"A cat has claws at the end of its paws.
A comma's a pause at the end of a clause."

Get it?

Truss not only talks about commas. She discusses apostrophes, colons, semicolons, and other punctuation marks. She illustrates their use via humorous stories.

Buy, steal, or borrow her book. Learn a thing or two about punctuation and laugh a lot in the process.


Shelley Sly said...

I've heard good things about that book. I'll have to pick it up. :)

Linda Osmundson said...

Read it. You'll like it.

Keith said...


Anonymous said...

Truly a funny story to tell. I would love to see that on a big screen! If you or some of your readers will need help from the to write or review the script - don't hesitate to ask professional help/advice. Ninja's door is alway open! ) Good luck!

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