IT’S amazing – the word “punctuation” acts like the strongest drug. Use it and people fall asleep in seconds, so congratulations on getting past the title of this blog!
I’m quite pedantic about grammar and punctuation. It actually upsets me to see them used wrongly so I’m often upset these days.
Wherever you look, it seems, someone is abusing the English language and punctuation. Some people even go for the double with both.
Thanks to texting and quick posting online, “you’re” as an abbreviation for “you are” has now been absorbed by the all-purpose “your”. Even emails, which are supposed to be less formal online letters, now bear plenty of examples of your to mean both a possession belonging to you and a quick form of “you are.” Grrrrrrrrr!
The other area to come in for massive abuse involves the comma and the apostrophe. Rather than find out the right time to write a comma (used for separating clauses in a complex sentence – or, as I prefer it, when you would normally take a breath), people leave them out completely.
As my friend Dave Silver pointed out on Facebook “My neighbour loves cooking children and dogs but hates commas.” See the problem?
Author Lynne Truss’s wonderful book about this is entitled “Eats Shoots And Leaves”, which also shows what happens when commas fall out of favour.
Apostrophes indicate a missing letter (like the rogue “you’re) or possession and are the outcasts of the punctuation world.
When they’re not being completely ignored, they crop up almost by surprise. Examples to set the teeth on edge include a sign in the garden centre “Pansy’s ready” (is she?) and in the supermarket “Fish Not Just For Friday’s” (Friday’s what?).
Of course, the alternative is that we should just abandon the lot and write code.