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This Is How Confusing Life Would Be Without Punctuation | Reader’s Digest

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The significance of punctuation lays within the difference between announcing dinner and a suggestion for cannibalism. “Let’s eat, Grandpa!” vs. “Let’s eat Grandpa!” are two totally different things. For the sake of Grandpa’s life, use proper punctuation. Here are eight other examples of how confusing life would be without proper punctuation. 

The controversial Oxford comma

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Some people love it, some people hate it, but the Oxford comma does make a difference. Let’s say you’re writing your graduation speech, and you’d like to thank your parents, Tiffany, and God. Without that comma after Tiffany, it’d read, “I’d like to thank my parents, Tiffany and God.” Are Tiffany and God your parents? Probably not. Missing Oxford commas can also lead to lawsuits, like these workers who sued their employer, all because of a punctuation mishap.

Misplaced commas

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This is a big one. Depending upon where you place your comma, your sentence could convey an entirely different meaning. Like in this sentence, “A woman, without her man, is nothing.” Now, let’s change up where we’re placing the commas, “A woman: without her, man is nothing.” See? An entirely different sentence. Think you’re already a comma genius? Take this quiz to find out.

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Misused quotation marks

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Quotation marks are primarily meant to go around quotes or a parenthetical reference. So, when you see a sign in a grocery store that says, “Day old ‘bread'” it has to make you wonder…is it actually bread? Why is bread in quotation marks? Is it something disguised as bread? We’ll never know because of those confusing quotation marks.

Punctuation saves relationships

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Let’s pretend that you and your significant other got into an argument, but you want to sort things out. You send them a text saying, “I’m sorry; I love you.” Then, all is well in the world. You’ve apologized and expressed your love for them. But if you hadn’t placed that semicolon after “sorry,” you would’ve said, “I’m sorry I love you.” Hence, you’re feeling sorry that you love them. As in, you don’t want to love them. Add a semicolon, save a relationship. Here are some other texting mishaps that you may be guilty of.

Wanted: more missing commas

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If you’re writing a biography on a dating website, the lack of a comma could lead to an immediate left swipe. Take this for example, “I love baking, my family, and my friends.” Without the commas, the sentence would be, “I love baking my family and friends.” And right there is why commas are absolutely necessary. Again, punctuation saves lives. Here’s another example of a lawsuit due to a missing comma.

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The apostrophe that’s a little too possessive

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Apostrophes are used to indicate a possession or contraction (like “it’s” or “don’t”), where a word is purposely omitted. So actually, you don’t love the “90’s,” you love the 90s. If you love the “90’s,” that would mean you love the “90 is,” which doesn’t make any sense. On that same note, your family shouldn’t be referred to as “the Smith’s” unless you move the apostrophe to the end of the name (Smiths’) to indicate that the entire family is in possession of something. “The Smith’s” means “the Smith is,” which again, doesn’t make any sense. But no apostrophe is necessary if you are plainly stating the family’s name.

Save your excitement for when you’re actually excited

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It’s easy to misuse exclamation points, especially if you’re excited (or mad) about something. But sometimes it can get the wrong message across. For example, you walk into a bathroom and there’s a sign that reads, “Caution!!!! Wet!!!! Floors!!!!” In our heads, that’s typically assumed to be angry screaming; the same point would’ve gotten across without the excessive exclamation points. (Did you know the exclamation point didn’t get its own typewriter key until the 1970s?) Then again, it’s possible that the person who wrote that was actually angry, but the excess exclamation points are a bit much. The same goes for excessive capitalization, which research says is one of the nine most annoying email habits you may have. 

It can get your hopes up

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Lastly, here’s where punctuation gets really important: when it comes to your paycheck. A simple misused comma or period could be the difference between a $1,000.00 check and a $100,000 check. And let’s be honest, that’s the one and only time we’d all like to make a punctuation mistake. (We know, it’s tedious keeping up with all of this punctuation, so here are 10 grammar rules that you don’t actually need to follow.)

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