August 19, 2013

Why Punctuation Matters

Teacher at chalkboard
One day, my third grade teacher wrote this sentence on the board.

The teacher said the principal is a fool.

We laughed.

"What if the principal walked in right now and saw this?" she asked. "How could I explain it?"

We didn't know. We thought she would be in a lot of trouble.

The teacher smiled. "I would just tell him that I hadn't finished punctuating the sentence." She corrected the sentence, and ended up with something quite different.

"The teacher," said the principal, "is a fool."

We were impressed. It is a lesson I have never forgotten. Punctuation and spelling are not simply mental exercises. They are tools that help us communicate more clearly. As bloggers and writers, we need to master the fundamentals of written language in order to be understood, to build credibility, and to gain the respect of our readers.

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