Grammar, Punctuation, And All That*
Judging from the tone of Eats, Shoots & Leaves, Lynne Truss most assuredly has had at least one apoplectic fit over the decline of syntax on the internet. I don’t mean this in a bad way, of course. I think anyone with any respect for the written language has gotten a headache from seeing something like “LOL HaxX0rz!!1!!” in increasing frequency on the computer screen. Most of this primer focuses on the basic yet insidious mistakes with a wry sort of humor that one will either appreciate or denigrate with something on the order of “get a life!”
Truss, however, is not the most anal-retentive grammarian no matter how much you read into her anecdotes. That honor is reserved for the library patron who checked out the book before I did and penciled in corrections.
I will have to say that personally, I side with following grammatical rules. Without them, words would be strewn pell-mell across the page and no one reading will be able to make any sense of them. It’s not so much order but clarity. A misplaced comma would be a terrible thing in an important sentence, festering misunderstandings and creating court battles.
My feelings on punctuation:
Apostrophe–My major pet peeve is people who have absolutely no idea how to use it in possessives and plurals. They think everything is interchangeable. It isn’t!
Comma–I’m more lazy about this one. I usually use it whenever there’s a pause in speech. I’m a little more fanatical about the Oxford comma though. In a series such as apples, oranges, and pears I always put the second comma which is after the word oranges. The entire thing looks a little funny to me if it isn’t there.
Semicolons and colons–I use them whenever I feel like it. Maybe I should be more strict with myself about their usage and stop inserting commas wherever a semicolon is more correct.
Dashes–I probably use too many of them even though I think it contributes to my writing style (whatever that is).
Periods and quotation marks–In this weblog, I try to follow the British rule rather than the American one simply because it makes more sense. If I had a sentence that said Harry saw a “UFO”. I would write that rather than Harry saw a “UFO.” The idea that a period always goes inside the quotation is daft. Clearly, the period ends the entire sentence and not the quotation mark.
*Any grammatical errors in this post are unintentional.