Eats, Shoots and Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynne Truss is an indispensable guide to correct punctuation. Hard to believe in today’s world of text-messaging that anyone still cares about how the written word is punctuated, but it is important. The following joke demonstrates how important.
A panda walks into a café. He orders a sandwich, eats it, then draws a gun and fires two shots in the air.
“Why?” asks the confused waiter, as the panda makes towards the exit. The panda produces a badly punctuated wildlife manual and tosses it over his shoulder.
“I’m a panda,” he says, at the door. “Look it up.”
The waiter turns to the relevant entry and, sure enough, finds an explanation.
“Panda. Large black-and-white bear-like mammal, native to China. Eats, shoots and leaves.”
I am more a stickler for correct spelling and grammar (though I still make quite a few mistakes) than punctuation, but Lynne Truss manages to make the topic of punctuation entertaining.
For some reason, I just accepted that the proper way to write the plural of DVD was DVD’s, and the right way to write the plural of CD was CD’s. It never did look right, but that was the only way I had seen it written. Lynne Truss pointed out what I knew was right - an apostrophe is only used to form a contraction or show possession. Neither case applies here. So the correct way to form the plurals of these is DVDs and CDs.
“The CD’s cover has some interesting artwork” would be correct, but “I have many CD’s” would not be. “I have many CDs” would be correct.
She humorously discusses other punctuation marks, such as the comma. I certainly never thought that I would get so much enjoyment out of reading about how to properly use an apostrophe or semi-colon.
She is not the first writer to teach about punctuation in an entertaining fashion. Anton Chekhov (1860-1904), a Russian author, wrote a humorous short story, The Exclamation Mark around 1885. It is a fiction story about a Russian collegiate secretary whose dreams on Christmas Eve are invaded by punctuation marks who will not leave him alone until he learns how to correctly use an exclamation mark.
If you like, you may purchase a copy of Eats, Shoots and Leaves or Chekhov: The Comic Stories which contains the short story The Exclamation Mark through Amazon by clicking on one of the below links.
Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation
The Comic Stories