Punctuation: Another Language Problem

Choosing the correct punctuation is important
Choosing the correct punctuation is important | Source

Punctuation--the Other Pesky Problem

I've written about confusions with words and writing clearly, but I have yet to address punctuation. Now I will. Some people may think it is an unimportant detail, but it is not.

Something as simple as a small dot or comma can change the entire meaning of a sentence. As the saying goes, "the devil is in the details." That small dot has so much importance in everything from writing to music to finances. Its correct or incorrect placement can make worlds of difference in the end result or amount.

Any computer programmer also knows the value of such a small detail.The addition or omission of the correct punctuation in the computer's programming can cause all manner of errors, from simple failure to work at all, to mind-boggling mistakes.

The Lowly Comma

Changing the Meaning:

While the comma may seem insignificant, it has a very important role. It serves to separate related thoughts so that they are easily understood. It represents a pause or break that is not the same "full stop" of a period.

Sometimes, it can even change the meaning of a sentence entirely. For example, any parent knows playing favorites among their children is a bad idea. You would never say to little Johnny, "You are my favorite, Johnny." In this example, the meaning is that he is your favorite of all your own children.

Now, if we re-write it, minus the comma, it becomes, "You are my favorite Johnny." The meaning has shifted to stating that he is your favorite among all children named "Johnny."

Since my children are all grown and out on their own, I use this particular construction all the time in speaking to my cats. We have 6 cats, and I love them all dearly. (Not that cats understand these nuances, of course, but just because it is true.) Therefore, I will tell one that "You are my favorite Tigger," and another that, "You are my favorite Munchkin," and so forth.

Something as small as a period or comma can change the whole meaning of a sentence.

Punctuate Me!

Breaking up large blocks of text:

Read the following sentence:

"It was a sunny day and it looked like a nice day to go for a walk it being neither cold nor hot so I put on my light sweater and headed out the door with my dog."

Yes, you can read it, and yes, you can understand it. However, there are a couple of separate thoughts within that sentence, and they are all run together. A comma, or multiple commas, serve to separate those thoughts (clauses) one from another. Now, re-read the same sentence with the commas applied:

"It was a sunny day and it looked like a nice day to go for a walk, it being neither cold nor hot, so I put on my light sweater and headed out the door with my dog."

What the comma does in this example is separate a section of the text that is not vital to the overall meaning of the sentence. In other words, the phrase, "being neither cold nor hot," is not essential. It is simply additional information. It could just as well read,

"It was a sunny day and it looked like a nice day to go for a walk, so I put on my light sweater and headed out the door with my dog."

The sentence still stands on its own two feet, so to speak, without the descriptive assistance of the temperature conditions. Without the commas, and with the additional description however, it becomes the dreaded run-on sentence. Commas can stand in for periods in some instances. The sentence in this example could also stand as three individual sentences:

"It was a sunny day. It looked like a nice day to go for a walk, it being neither cold nor hot. I put on my light sweater and headed out the door with my dog."

The style you choose will depend in large part upon your target audience. For adults, the commas work well. For young children, it is better to make several short sentences.

Separating Items in a List:

There are several things on a tray in a memory concentration game. A key, a pencil, a flashlight, a screwdriver, a nail file, and a hammer.

Before baking a cake, be sure you have all the ingredients on hand: flour, eggs, oil, baking powder, salt, and milk.

The Apostrophe

I suspect that this one piece of punctuation is responsible for more confusion and pencil-chewing than any other. There are so many different situations in which it is used. The confusion is not helped by the various exceptions and conditions regarding its application and placement.

The Contraction

Probably the most common and first-learned use of the apostrophe is in the contraction, or the blending together of two words spoken or written informally.

  • Can't = can not (cannot)
  • Won't = will not
  • Don't = do not
  • Shouldn't = should not
  • Couldn't = could not

...and so forth.

The Possessive Form

This is the one that drives folks goofy. There are so many different placement conditions and exceptions that many people just say "To heck with it! I won't use any apostrophes at all!" This is folly, however, as it leads to one's writing being misunderstood at best; taken for uneducated and incompetent at worst. Let's begin slow and easy.

The Single Possessive

  • The dog's dish
  • The lady's dress
  • The cat's toy

Single Subject; Multiple Objects:

  • The dog's dishes
  • The lady's dresses
  • The cat's toys

You can readily see that the subjects (dog, lady, cat) did not change, only the quantity of the objects they own. Next is where it gets tricky, as both the spellings of some words and the placement of the apostrophe change.

The Plural Possessive

  • The dogs' dishes
  • The ladies' dresses
  • The cats' toys

When there is more than a single subject and multiple objects, the apostrophe shifts its position to the end of the word indicating the subject. Also, the spellings of the words, in many cases, also change to reflect the plural (lady/ladies).

The most confusing of the contractions, however, is that dreaded "exception to the rule," and that's the case of "it's" versus "its." Normally, we'd expect to see "it's" as the possessive form, and "its" as...wait a minute here!! What??? No, you can't have it both ways. It's both a contraction and a possessive, so they changed the darned rule!

"Its," minus the apostrophe, is actually the possessive form:

"The book was in bad shape; its binding was torn."

"It's" with the apostrophe, is the contraction for "it is:"

"It's a nice day; let's go for a walk."

Go figure!

Tricky Words

As if all this were not confusing enough, there are any number of words which have an entirely different meaning with an apostrophe than without, even though the apparent spelling is the same. A few examples:

No Apostrophe
Meaning
With Apostrophe
Meaning
Ill
Sick, suffering from illness
I'll
I Will
Well
Healthy, or a Deep Hole Dug for Resources
We'll
We Will
Shell
Exoskeleton of mollusks, etc. (shellfish)
She'll
She Will
Cant
An Angle/Slant/Tilt
Can't
Cannot
Hell
A Supposedly Fiery Place
He'll
He Will

Be very careful of the context when deciding whether or not to leave out that apostrophe.

In the first example, either someone is ill (sick), or is saying "I will (I'll) do the task.

Next, someone has gotten well (or is drilling a hole for water), or is saying "We will (we'll) go to the party.

She has found a shell at the beach, and she will (she'll) take it home with her.

Cant is an angle/slope/tilt, while can't, as we've seen earlier, is a contraction for cannot.

Lastly, someone is either speaking of a rather hot spot, or he will (he'll) buy a new car.

These words do not mean the same thing!! The apostrophe changes their meaning drastically.

Colons and Semi-Colons, Oh, My!

These two bits of punctuation often create confusion as to when each should be used.

The Colon:

Generally speaking, the colon is used to precede a list or a choice or action, thus: confess if you are guilty of misusing these two.

Discussing options, as in cooking; we have many choices:

  • baking
  • broiling
  • grilling
  • boiling
  • sauteing

There are several other instances in which a colon is the proper or preferred punctuation, but these can get nit-picky and confusing, and usually involve quotations and the circumstances and type of quotation. Most people do not run into those cases on a frequent basis, so I won't confuse the issue by trying to separate it all out here.

The one other instance where a colon is standard procedure is in identifying scripted dialog in a play or movie format:

Bill: I had no idea these mushrooms would taste so good.

Sue: Of course they are good; I cooked them!

Bill: Well, aren't you a little full of yourself today!

Sue: No more than you usually are.


The Semi-Colon

A semi-colon is used to separate multiple items in a a series of lists, or two closely related parts of a sentence, known as "independent clauses." For example:

Some people like water, the beach, and swimming; others like trees, forests, and mountains.

I like dogs; however I prefer cats.

The Period

The end.

That's what the period means. Though it is sometimes used incorrectly for emphasis and effect, such as someone making commentary:

"I. Hate. Broccoli."

That is not standard usage, and should be avoided. When one thought ends and another begins, a period should be used, and not a comma. Using commas incorrectly leads to the dreaded run-on sentence or "comma splice," which makes for very confusing reading.

When in doubt, use a period, and read the section aloud to see if it makes sense. Remember, a full sentence needs both a subject and a verb; sometimes an adjective or adverb as well. For example:

  1. The sun was shining.
  2. The sun.

The first example is a complete sentence or thought. The second example is not, for it is missing any description. What about the sun? This attempt at a sentence only names a subject, and gives no further information. If information is missing, the sentence, or thought, is incomplete, and a period is the wrong punctuation.

Consider well your punctuation. Along with spelling and grammar, it has the ability to trip you up and make you appear either intelligent and well-educated, or sloppy, careless and uneducated.

No one said mastering a language and all its nuances is easy. However, it is worthwhile if you value your credibility. You must know the rules in order to know when and how to break them for effect.

Period. Full stop. The end.

© 2014 DzyMsLizzy

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Comments 38 comments

BruceDPrice profile image

BruceDPrice 2 years ago from Virginia Beach, Va.

Yes, we need a lot more grammar, spelling, sentence diagramming, and all that other boring old-fashioned stuff. Not all at one time so the students reject it. Not taught too dogmatically. But a little bit every week. Then, as the years go by, every child would learn enough to feel self-confident.

I went to a private school and then an Ivy League school and majored in English literature. But there are still things that I have to stop and think about because nobody ever taught them to me. This is really annoying. If the school doesn't teach it, the kids don't know it.

Not teaching grammar, etc. is just another part of the whole war against reading and the war against knowledge.


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 2 years ago from Oakley, CA Author

You are so correct, Bruce!

It sickens me the way the schools have been "dumbed-down" to the lowest common denominator, catering to the least-motivated and disadvantaged students instead of raising the proverbial bar. You get what you expect, and if your expectations are low, everyone is brought down. It is a way to trap the disadvantaged in their situation, and attempt to create ever more disadvantaged people who will be ill-prepared to make intelligent choices when they become adults. It is, indeed, a war against education and knowledge.

Thank you for your well-put comment.


billybuc profile image

billybuc 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

Anyone who has ever read my articles knows how I feel about good grammar. I am amazed by the dumbing down of our nation and I refuse to be a part of it. Keep raising awareness about this.


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 2 years ago from Oakley, CA Author

Hello, Billy--

Exactly so! I, too, refuse to be part of that disgusting trend. Thanks for the support...(though I often fear we are 'preaching to the choir.')


FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

These are among my biggest pet peeves. Where was half the nation when we went over this in grammar school and middle school? I always enjoyed English class because punctuation, spelling and grammar were some of the few things with right or wrong answers. Composition, on the other hand, seemed so subjective.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 2 years ago from Queensland Australia

Wonderful hub MsLizzy. I need this type of instruction to brush up on my grammar regularly. I admit it's not my strong point. Very educational and interesting. Thanks for sharing your wisdom. Voted up.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 2 years ago from The Caribbean

MsLizzy, I am awed by people like you who pay attention to grammar and punctuation. It shows respect for the literary art. Thank you and Voted Up!


Twilight Lawns profile image

Twilight Lawns 2 years ago from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K.

DzyMsLizzy, I love you. This is an excellent hub written so carefully, yet maintaining the interest throughout. Not an easy task.

I have been referred to as a Grammar Nazi in the past, but feel no shame at having been given that name. Without the simple rules, how could we truly express ourselves in the written word?

(Rhetorical question)


Twilight Lawns profile image

Twilight Lawns 2 years ago from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K.

Where has my comment gone? I posted it and then I returned with this URL and it has disappeared.

Watch this and enjoy it as much as I, please.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N4vf8N6GpdM


Ann1Az2 profile image

Ann1Az2 2 years ago from Orange, Texas

Great hub and a great review for all of us writers, or at least, it should be a review! It's no wonder that so many people have trouble learning English and then you add on top of that, English writing and grammar! Well done and I agree with Bill - we we need to raise the awareness!

There is also one more problem with writing and that is typing errors. In all honesty, most of us make them from time to time, even if we proofread two or three times. It is isn't always grammar that's the problem. Sometimes people just don't know how to type!


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 2 years ago from Oakley, CA Author

@ FlourishAnyway--I hear you; a very great pet peeve of mine, hence this article! ;-) To tell the truth, I was a rather lazy student in my youth, but because we were readers and had no TV, I learned most of it by osmosis. I was therefore an English major in high school because it was an easy “A.” Composition was only difficult for me when a topic in which I had no interest was assigned. But if we were given free rein, or a list from which to choose, I was off and running! Thanks so much for your comment.

@ Jodah--I’m glad I struck a chord with you and that you found this hub educational. Many thanks for stopping by and the votes.

@ MsDora--Well, shucks! **blushing** Thank you so very much for such a nice compliment. I am delighted that you found this article worthy. Many thanks for the vote!

@ Twilight Lawns--“Grammar Nazi!” LOL--I love it--I’ve been accused of exactly the same thing. Like you, I don’t find it shameful; rather, I become annoyed at those whose attitudes toward careful writing is so nonchalant and cavalier. I’m glad you liked my article, and I thank you so much for the comment. (Your comment did not disappear; but when you leave the page, sometimes weird stuff happens.)

@ Ann1Az2--Thanks very much for stopping by and adding your input. I agree; the awareness needs to be raised, and that should be the job of our schools, which are failing miserably at their appointed task. And yes, typos are a frequent problem, and it only gets worse with each passing day.. Between so-called “smart phones” trying to second-guess what one is going to say, and auto-filling the wrong word, to people simply pressing the wrong key and not double-checking their work. Spell checker programs are also problematic, as they do not vet for context errors; only spelling.


Cherylann Mollan profile image

Cherylann Mollan 2 years ago from India

Hi DzyMsLizzy, thanks for the hub. I've always had a problem with apostrophes and the dreaded semi-colon. You've simplified the rules (by that, I don't mean you've dumbed it down or anything) here making it easy to understand. I think the key to getting your grammar right is to understand the rule, rather than just accept what the book says. I had a couple of teachers who did ask us to mug up grammar rules. Well, I still pay the price for that sometimes!


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 2 years ago from Oakley, CA Author

Hello, Cherylann Mollan,

Thanks so very much for your nice comment. I'm glad I was able to throw some light on this pesky punctuation for you.


grand old lady profile image

grand old lady 2 years ago from Philippines

Wow, I was way overconfident about my punctuation skills and ranked 75%. Devastating! But, my husband is even worse. I keep reminding him, but he seems uninterested in learning to improve his punctuation. He's 60 so I guess he's earned his right to be hard headed. Still, I am so tempted to send this to him....


B. Leekley profile image

B. Leekley 2 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

Punctuation marks are a very important part of a writer's toolbox. For the reader to understand clearly the writer's meaning and to react emotionally as the writer intended, precise use of punctuation by the writer is needed. Compare:

You think you're smart.

You think. You're smart.

I enjoyed this excellent hub. It explains clearly the whys and wherefores of commonly encountered punctuation situations.

There are yet more punctuation marks. In recent years I have gotten to prefer M dashes--or the equivalent two hyphens--instead of parentheses for asides.


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 2 years ago from Oakley, CA Author

@ grand old lady--Don't feel bad. Punctuation can be a very confusing thing, and many people lack a full understanding. I'm pleased I was able to provide some clarification. I wish you luck with your husband--LOL--I have a hubby equally challenged who is also spelling-challenged; and he has a near-genius I.Q. , but he is more interested in the ideas than in the nitty-gritty. Thank you for stopping by.

@ B.Leekley--You make excellent points! So many people fail to grasp the significant differences in meaning that punctuation can affect. I know what you mean about the M dashes--in fact, it was a habit I had for many years--until a fellow Hubber with more experience here than I convinced me not to use them in my articles or titles.

Thanks very much for your well-thought-out comment.


DonnaCaprio profile image

DonnaCaprio 2 years ago from Newburyport, MA

I like the way you explained how to use grammar in a user friendly way. I often have trouble using the semi-colon, and sometimes am not sure where to insert a comma in a sentence I am writing. Thanks for the clarification!


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 2 years ago from Oakley, CA Author

Hello, DonnaCaprio,

I'm glad you found this article on punctuation to be useful. It certainly can be a tricky thing. Thanks very much for your comment.


RonElFran profile image

RonElFran 2 years ago from Mechanicsburg, PA

One mistake I'm seeing a lot lately is "your" being used when the appropriate construction is "you're." The one I'm often uncertain about is how to make a possessive of a noun that ends in s. Is that animal Jess' cat or Jess's? Interesting hub!


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 2 years ago from Oakley, CA Author

Hello, RonElFran,

Yes, that "your/you're" problem is a very common error; one I've addressed in my hub about misused and misunderstood words. Also in that category is the mistaking of "their" for "there." I see those two used incorrectly more often than not it seems. As for your question, it would be, according to most style guides, "Jess's cat."

I'm glad you liked the article; thanks so much for stopping by and adding to the discussion.


Tolovaj profile image

Tolovaj 2 years ago

As a non native English speaker I can add there will be even more problems with punctuation in the future. In our country you can use comma before and only on very special occasions. It still feels strange to that in English. I'm sure millions of people who for some reason write in foreign language experience the same.

There is another trend I have noticed: it seems Americans care less and less about grammar. Your and you're (you are) is just one of the screaming examples.


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 2 years ago from Oakley, CA Author

Hello, Tolovaj,

Welcome to Hub Pages. I agree with you; people studying various languages always run into quirks of those languages, and it can be very confusing and frustrating indeed.

And, oh! I so hear you about the "your/you're" mix-up. It is truly irritating, as that is a basic grade school lesson, yet so many adults who are USA natives, or speakers of English in other countries, make this egregious error.

Thank you very much for stopping by and adding your perspective.


Twilight Lawns profile image

Twilight Lawns 2 years ago from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K.

Tolovaj and my dear friend DzyMsLizzy, can I please disagree?

I love the English language, as you know DzyMsLizzy, and I was interested and pleased to discover, by reading and making friends on HubPages. that the understanding and use of English in the USA and Canada seems to be of a better standard than that in the UK.

I was brought up and educated in India and Australia, and am a resident of the UK, but I can assure you that there are very many people in this country who neither understand nor care about the formation and use of our beloved shared language.

Educated people in the sub Continent, North America and Australia, on the whole, have a greater respect. I have met people on HubPages not only from English speaking countries, but from non English speaking countries who use the language as it should be.

I give you the example of a couple of friends from Serbia, a Russian lady living in Canada, and an American citizen of Texas who use the language better than most I know here. And I could go on, but I think I have made my point.


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 2 years ago from Oakley, CA Author

Hello, Twilight Lawns,

You may disagree all you wish. ;-) However, my experience, with what I see daily, both in so-called news articles online (where professional journalists truly should know better), and in places such as Face Book, which presents a true cross-section of "ordinary people," tends to run counter to what you say. To wit:

"Could of" instead of "could have," (or the contraction they actually mean, "could've"), "use to" instead of "used to," the already-mentioned "your" instead of "you're," mixing up of "their; there and they're," the last of which is rarely used at all...

I could go on...and on...but I already have other articles on various aspects of this topic; no point to re-create a hub here. ;-)

I thank you for your input and perspective.


Sue Adams profile image

Sue Adams 2 years ago from Andalusia

While we are here, and nothing to do with punctuation; [should this be a comma or semi-colon?] the other thing that always bothers me a lot is the incorrect use of "affect" and "effect".

affect = a verb

effect = a noun

The rain affected her hairdo.

The rain had a bad effect on her hairdo.

But then again, there is one instance when effect can be a verb as in:

"The weather effected a change in the appearance of her hairdo."

Confusing? Just stick to the rule that affect is a verb and effect is a noun for now.


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 2 years ago from Oakley, CA Author

Hi there, Sue Adams,

Yes, you are correct. I've addressed that pair in my article "Frequently Confused, Misused and Mistaken Words," along with a few other such errors commonly seen these days.

Thanks for stopping by.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 2 years ago from Queensland Australia

Great hub Lizzy. I am still working at getting my punctuation right. I think it is a life-long lesson for me. Very helpful information. Much appreciated.


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 2 years ago from Oakley, CA Author

Thanks, Jodah!

I'm glad you found it helpful. Thanks for stopping by.


Twilight Lawns profile image

Twilight Lawns 2 years ago from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K.

I was a teacher who majored in English and taught it, albeit to primary children, but semi-colons drive me crazy. Sometimes I get them right, but as often as not, I am not sure if I do.

Sue Adams, I thought that in the following: "The weather effected a change in the appearance of her hairdo.", "effected" was used as a verb, and therefore should have been "affected", but I looked it up and I appear to be wrong.

Is this US English or was I right, as I speak UK English?

Aaaarrghhh!


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 2 years ago from Oakley, CA Author

Hello again, Twilight Lawns...

And there you have it; one I forgot. The three-dot "ellipsis." LOL Just to confound the issue further. ;-) (Used incorrectly on purpose there, just for grins and giggles.)

I am writing in reference to USA English; but I do know there are differences, at least in terminology and spellings, (truck/lorry, color/colour, elevator/lift, and so forth). As for punctuation I'm not so sure if there are differences or not. Sadly, I've never visited the UK, though I'd love to.

Thanks so very much for stopping by and adding to the topic.


Sue Adams profile image

Sue Adams 2 years ago from Andalusia

Hi Twilight Lawns,

"effected a change" is correctly used as a verb in this rare instance because it refers to "change" and not to the hairdo. It just means that the rain effected (caused) a change to occur which affected the hairdo.

"affected a change" would not make sense here because the change wasn't in any way affected by the rain, only the hairdo.

Lizzy, maybe you could add this instance of using effect as a verb "to effect a change" to to your hub "Frequently Confused, Misused and Mistaken Words"?

Effect is used used rarely as a verb. Here is another example:

"The irresponsible way the drunk played with the child was bound to effect disaster (to cause disaster)." In other words, "The child's safety was affected by the irresponsible way the drunk played with him.

British or American makes no difference here.


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 2 years ago from Oakley, CA Author

Good idea, Sue--

I'll look into that revision straight away. ;-)


Twilight Lawns profile image

Twilight Lawns 2 years ago from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K.

Sue Adams,I am truly grateful to have this pointed out. I am a bit of a Grammar Nazi, but also like to be told when I err.

And I err more often than I would like!


Sue Adams profile image

Sue Adams 2 years ago from Andalusia

You didn't err Lizzy you merely omitted to mention: "Look upon affect as a verb, and effect as a noun, except in some rare cases when effect is used as a verb as in: "...."

To make your life easier Lizzy, I don't mind if you use above examples in your hub "Frequently Confused, Misused and Mistaken Words"? without quoting me.

Unlike in paper publishing, HP authors have the privilege of tweaking their work way past publication date. Yeeha!

How's my punctuation?


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 2 years ago from Oakley, CA Author

LOL, Sue! Yes, tweaks ad infinitum are possible here. Thanks for permission to use your examples; as you requested, I will use them without attribution. ;-)

And your punctuation looks fine. I just broke a rule myself concerning not beginning sentences with "and" or "but." Hee hee! (Well, more of a guideline than a hard and fast rule, I'd say. )


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 2 years ago from Central Oklahoma

Lizzy, thank you for this well-written hub! The misuse of the apostrophe that makes a noun possessive instead of the intended plural is my absolute number one grammar pet peeve. One can ignore such an error in a book as simply a typo that the editor or proof reader didn't catch, but not on a giant billboard or in a full-page newspaper ad. In fact, the worst punctuation errors I've ever seen in print were in newspaper articles penned by graduates of KU's William Allen White School of Journalism!

My number two pet peeve is the mispronunciation of the word "to". Even our learned president, who should know better, pronounces it "tuh", as in "going tuh the G-8 next week", to cite only one example. Each time I hear it, I want to reach through the TV screen, grab the person by the neck, and yell "It's the same as 'two' and the first syllable in Tuesday!".

After you've exhausted hubs about grammar and punctuation in writing, perhaps you could address the deterioration of American English as a spoken language. Just a thought... ;D


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 2 years ago from Oakley, CA Author

Hello, JamaGenee,

I know what you mean. It does grate on the nerves, does it not? I also see this kind of mistake in grocery stores, on large signs with the pricing of an item, usually on 'special.' The thing that galls me about that, is these are PRINTED signs, mass-produced by the store's main office, so someone there should certainly know better. It was slightly more understandable in the days when the independent grocers would hand-letter such signs..."understandable," still not acceptable. And these printed signs are done in a font to resemble hand-lettering. All the worse, in my opinion.

As far as the mispronunciation of words, I touched on it briefly, in my article about the "coulda/shoulda/woulda" trio, in which people mistake "could've," (could have) and "would've," (would have) because they mis-hear the word, and instead reproduce it as "could of" or "would of." I see that one on a daily basis all over Face Book!

Another hubber (I'm embarrassed to say I don't recall who), has written an article on our deteriorated speech patterns.

I can probably foresee a day when "Im gonna go tuh da staw" replacing, "I'm going to go to the store." Perhaps I will no longer be here when that day arrives.

Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving such a well-thought-out comment.


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 2 years ago from Central Oklahoma

I couldn't help but laugh out loud when the use of the inappropriate apostrosphe was used as a pet peeve of a main character in a British TV show. For the life of me I can't remember its name now, but am sure it was a detective series. At any rate, the two main characters were about to turn into the driveway of a farm where they were to interview a suspect. Propped against the fence was a hand-painted sign advertising eggs for sale, with an apostrophe between the "g" and "s". One character had to stop the other from jumping out to (somehow) obliterate the apostrophe. "Just let it go," he said. The apostrophe stayed, but the show's writer(s) had made the intended point.

As for those mass-produced printed signs, I blame punctuation errors on Corporate America's penchant for paying its (or its contractors') employees as little as possible, including those responsible for the company's image in print ads and billboards. "Ya get what ya pay for." (Or more accurately, don't pay for, i.e. literate employees.)

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