Are you one of those people who despairs when seeing signs in the market for tomato’s or tomatoe’s? Do you feel outrage when you read a sentence such as – warning wild animal, don’t touch it’s cage!
If you haven’t already discovered it, let me recommend the very witty book Eats,Shoots and Leaves – think about that title for a minute! The book makes the case for accurate punctuation in a humourous manner and the author envisages all sorts of vicious punishments for those who fail to correctly position their apostrophes or commas.
Many schools over recent years have taken a fairly laissez-faire attitude towards punctuation, not bothering to mark mistakes, and just concentrating on content. However, the ability to write accurately – and that includes punctuation and spelling – are often vital in conveying correct information. There are dozens of examples in the book showing how, often, exactly the opposite meaning from that intended is the result when the punctuation is incorrect or simply missing.
More recently examination boards have started to award marks for spelling and punctuation once more – rather a shock for many pupils who have never had the basics rules explained to them. Indeed my pupils have sometimes been rather overwhelmed by the amount of red on their essays as I always mark for punctuation and spelling as well as content.
So is punctuation really that important?
Look again at the title of this post. It could be a matter of life and death to Bill!