Monthly Archives: May 2012

What a difference a comma makes…..

The comma is powerful since it makes text readable.

This punctuation mark indicates when to pause and when to take a breath. In short, that reads like a pause when speaking. Without it, we would be faced with the additional challenge to find out what the text means.

To illustrate, let’s have a look at what Lynne Truss wrote in her book Eats, Shoots, and Leaves. It nicely illustrates the power of the comma:

A panda walks into a cafe. He orders a sandwich, eats it, then draws a gun and fires two shots in the air. “Why?” asks the confused waiter, as the panda makes towards the exit. The panda produces a badly punctuated wildlife manual and tosses it over his shoulder. “I’m a panda,” he says at the door. “Look it up.” The waiter turns to the relevant entry, and sure enough, finds an explanation. “Panda. Large black-and-white bear-like mammal, native to China. Eats, shoots and leaves.”

A comma in the wrong place completely changes the meaning of a sentence. Even when it’s not a complete sentence, a comma can be very important in purveying the right meaning. Just compare the following two phrases:

Woman, without her man, is nothing
Woman, without her, man is nothing

Furthermore, even in a list a comma can make a big difference. Just look at the following:

Please bring a battery, charger and backup disk for your computer
Please bring a battery charger and backup disk for your computer.

In the first sentence, you must bring three items, in the second two…..

To round it up, let’s look at the following statement:

“See you in hell Sheldon

This implies that there is such a thing as a Hell Sheldon (his friends and colleagues quite likely agree)

Moral of this story: use your commas wisely!

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Filed under humor, marketing, Translations, Uncategorized, Writing