Commas: The Consequence of Getting Them Wrong

Having published my last blog post earlier today, I took a look around the wondrous world of the #writing hashtag on Twitter.

Lurking there, silently watching other writers and and their offerings to the world, I felt a little like a stalker, truth be told. I also found some useful resources and a few great pieces of advice though, which made the stakeout worthwhile.

Then I found this (much thanks to: @CollChris) and I just had to share it. I haven’t seen a better illustration of the importance of correct comma usage since Eats, Shoots & Leaves (mentioned on this blog before here). Genius.

Oxford Comma

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Grammar Watch #1 #WhenISeeAObamaSticker I Cringe

In case you’ve missed it, #WhenISeeAObamaSticker is now trending on twitter. This angers me, for a number of reasons.

Firstly, it’s a bad hashtag – onerous and far too long. Secondly, the use of ‘a’ instead of ‘an’ before Obama is a terrible grammatical mistake that greatly devalues the weight of the anti-Obama arguments attached to the tweets. Thirdly, millions of morons across the world have used and retweeted the offending hashtag, spreading bad grammar even further through cyberspace.

It hurts my eyes. If you’re going to create a hashtag, get it right, please.

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Grammar Watch

Eats-shoots-and-leaves-book-coverNo one’s perfect. I say that as a disclaimer – there’s no doubt that within this blog and in past examples of my writing, you will find mistakes – we’re all human. However, there is no excuse for flagrant misuse of grammar and punctuation, particularly if you’re a business.

When I was studying Journalism at Dublin City University, one of our lecturers insisted that we all read Eat, Shoots & Leaves by Lynn Truss at the beginning of our first year. It was sound advice.

The book’s very title is a lesson in the importance of punctuation – how the placement of punctuation can change the entire meaning of a sentence. Is the Panda a hungry, gun-wielding psychopath, or simply a vegetarian with a penchant for shoots and leaves? Depending on where you place the comma, it’s entirely up to you.

To this day, when I see a stray apostrophe, comma or semicolon, I feel like taking one of the trusty Panda Says No stickers from the back of the book and slapping it over the glaring mistake in front of me.

the-panda-says-noInstead of doing that, I am adding this Grammar Watch feature to this blog. The Panda Says No and so does this writer. It’s time to name and shame.

Please feel free to comment and share your own examples – it’s the only way they’ll learn.