Thursday, February 11, 2010

"Punc-tuation; is it impor...tant! Sure?

Here's a funny poster I saw on Boing Boing. It reminds me of some signs that you can see around campus where they use quotation marks to imply emphasis, as in:

"No food or drink in the lobby."

Does that mean we're allowed to or not?

Something else that has bothered me was whether you should include a comma after an "and" in a list.  For instance, I always wondered if you would say "I brought a pencil, a notebook, and a calculator" or "I brought a pencil, a notebook and a calculator."  I'm pretty sure you should have a comma before the "and," but the opposite it true in German. You never have a comma and an "und" next to each other. That has always thrown me off.

A funny example of this is a quote from an acceptance speech: "I would like to thank my parents, Ayn Rand and God."

Another weird thing: I say, "sure" a lot now. I don't know who I picked that up from or why, but I say it in response to the most random sentences.


Kathy Haynie said...

Commas after the last "and" in a series: yes in the US, no in England.

Don't get me started on mis-used apostrophes!

The completely grammatically correct response, of course, is "surely," as in, "Hey, you want to go get some pizza?" "Surely." Hmmm...sounds stilted...go ahead and stick with "sure" if someone asks you for pizza.

Thanks for a fun post! Right up my alley. :)

Kathy Haynie said...

Oops, I don't think "misused" is supposed to be hyphenated. Ha ha!!

alee said...

I learned that the comma before "and" in a series is long as you are consistent in whatever you are writing. Because of this, I try not to judge too harshly on this one but always use the comma by "and" in a series myself. Better safe than sorry! :)

Chris said...

Yo. The more I learn about English, the more I realize that language is fluid. Many fixed and fast rules are actually not either.
If you want to read a cool book about English, I suggest Alphabet Juice by Roy Blount Jr. (who chooses to not add a comma before the Jr. and writes about it).
Did you know that "partridge" and "feisty" are epistemologically related words but neither palette and palate nor babble and Babel are?

Bryan Lewis said...

I checked his book out from the library. I listen to him whenever he's on "Wait, wait ... don't tell me." I like him.