NOTE: The seconds, minutes, hours, and days of retirement are often filled with the minutiae of “nil.” That feeling of less responsibility, more leisure, and a lot of hardly anything is both positive and negative. This blog attempts to paint a few slices of the sort of life that reflects the “nil” that retirement can often be.

Have you spent some retirement time thinking about punctuation? Didn’t think so, although I may be judging you too harshly. Because punctuation can be tricky…and fun.

Forget the comma on the sign that says: “SLOW, KIDS AT PLAY” and you just have “SLOW KIDS AT PLAY.” Or forget the comma in “Let’s eat, grandpa.” and it becomes “Let’s eat grandpa.” You get the picture.

I taught students about writing for years, and I still have a little trouble with commas. And I’m a chronic overuser of…ellipses. But I do always remember to put the period inside the quotation marks.

So as I spent some time (I’m retired, remember) pondering punctuation, I came upon a mind-blowing punctuation example. And I’m showing it to you so that you can show your kids and your grandkids that the whole where-do-you-put-the-periods-and-commas thing is really important.

Here’s the first version of the example. Notice the meaning and the punctuation.

Dear Jack,
I want a man who knows what love is all about. You are generous, kind, thoughtful. People who are not like you admit to being useless and inferior. You have ruined me for other men. I yearn for you. I have no feelings whatsoever when we’re apart. I can be forever happy. Will you let me be yours?

Now, notice the second version. Same words, different punctuation.

Dear Jack,
I want a man who knows what love is. All about you are generous, kind, thoughtful people, who are not like you. Admit to being useless and inferior. You have ruined me. For other men I yearn! For you I have no feelings whatsoever. When we’re apart I can be forever happy. Will you let me be?

See…those silly little punctuation marks…well, they really can matter.

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  1. Jerry Jewler says:

    What a marvelous example of the importance of punctuation. Should be required reading for everyone who writes anything! Thanks, Jack.

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