Punctuation matters

In my Elon class today, I wanted to make the point that punctuation is important in their papers. I wrote the following sentence on the board and asked someone, anyone, to come up to the board and punctuate it.

“Woman without her man is nothing.”

The first tried to rewrite the sentence. I said, no, the words are correct, just punctuate it. The second punctuated it correctly, with commas after woman and man.

I said, yes, and there is a second way that is also correct. Try again.

The third person came up and tried to rewrite the sentence. The fourth punctuated it correctly. “Woman: without her, man is nothing.” A fifth came up and tried to rewrite the sentence again.

God is having fun with me; I’m blessed with a classful of editors! My former staff will appreciate the irony.

5 thoughts on “Punctuation matters

  1. I vaguely recall covering a state Court of Appeals ruling on a Cone family will in which the placement of a comma dictated the disbursement of millions of dollars. I believe this was the case and will that led to establishment of the Cemala Foundation, but I may be misremembering. In any event, in that ruling a single piece of punctuation had real, tangible consequences.

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