Andrew Sullivan found this gem of unfortunate punctuation on a magazine cover (h/t):
|I hope this does not explain her popularity.|
This is a shining example demonstrating why punctuation is important, and why this anecdote about Oscar Wilde rings true:
Oscar Wilde came down to lunch,. His guests wanted to know how he had spent his morning. "I was hard at work," he said.
"Oh?" someone asked. "Did you accomplish much?"
"Yes, indeed," said Wilde. "I inserted a comma."
He vanished after lunch and didn't return until dinner. They asked how he'd spent his afternoon. "More work," he said.
"Inserted another comma?" someone asked sarcastically.
"No," said Wilde, unfazed. "I removed the one I inserted this morning."
Filched that from Isaac Asimov, I did. Can't remember which book on writing it's from, but it's stayed with me for years. Commas matter.
So does the rest of the punctuation pantheon. Put a period in the wrong place, and you completely screw up a sentence. Bung quotation marks around the wrong words, and you've just put words in someone's mouth that don't belong there. I could go on and on, but what I'll do instead is direct you to one of the most delightful reads on punctuation ever written: Lynn Truss's Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation. Read it. Learn it. Live it.
Or else the dog and the family are what's for dinner.