Paying Attention To Punctuation

by Curt Kovener

Sitting in high school English class I felt compelled to pay attention. Mrs. Lewis was not only my teacher; she also was our neighbor for the first five years of my life. I realized that if I were caught not paying attention, she would resort to the underhanded tactic of telling my mother.
Little did I know at the time that I would be using words to make a living. If I did, perhaps I would have paid even more attention. I still struggle with her lessons on when to use lay, laid, lain, and lie.
I think I remember enough of what she taught us about punctuation. Though it is my observation that texting and Facebook probably has shown that many others did not pay attention in high school English Class.
•For instance a sign that says: We’re Open has different meaning that Were Open
•I don’t believe that a sign at a Goodwill Store meant to be insulting when it read: Thank you! Your Donation Just Helped Someone. Get a Job!
•Some commas could make the business’ bathroom policy more informative and less humorous & confusing: Toilet Only For Elderly Disabled Pregnant Children
•A magazine cover headline could have been more precise with a couple of commas: Rachael Ray finds inspiration in cooking her family and her dog.
•Let’s eat, Grandpa! has a most different meaning from Let’s eat Grandpa!
•Who wants to live in a neighborhood that has a street sign proclaiming “Slow Children Crossing”?
•Seen on a bumper sticker: Irony is when someone writes “Your An Idiot.”
•Spelling, grammar, and punctuation are important in relationships: She texted me “your adorable”. I responded with “no, you’re adorable”. Now she thinks I like her when all I did was point out her grammar mistake.
•How sentences are punctuated can result in very dramatic different meanings. First read this message conveying warm affection.
Dear John:
I want a man who knows what love is all about. You are generous, kind, thoughtful. People who are not like you admit to being useless and inferior. You have ruined me for other men. I yearn for you. I have no feelings whatsoever when we’re apart. I can be forever happy. Will you let me be yours?
Now let’s see how those same words read with the punctuation in different places:
Dear John:
I want a man who knows what love is. All about you are generous, kind, thoughtful people, who are not like you. Admit to being useless and inferior. You have ruined me. For other men, I yearn. For you, I have no feelings whatsoever. When we’re apart, I can be forever happy. Will you let me be?
•And another example of the importance of punctuation (mixed with some sexism) a college English Professor wrote this following on the board: A woman without her man is nothing” and instructed the class to correctly punctuate the sentence.
The males wrote, “A woman, without her man, is nothing.
The females wrote, “A woman: without her, man is nothing.”
•And finally, if you don’t think punctuation is important, try forgetting the comma when you text someone “I’m sorry, I love you.”