How important are, commas really?

Ah, the humble comma. During my long background as a copywriter, I can recall many lengthy arguments over the placement of a single punctuation mark. Many people don’t think commas, periods or other punctuation marks matter very much, but serious writers know how important they are. It seems that as our culture’s use of language gets increasingly dumbed down, we’ll lose even more familiarity with proper punctuation.

I came across this interesting example of how moving simple punctuation around can totally change the context of a story. It’s pretty funny.

The first letter:

Dear John: 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? Gloria.

The second letter:

Dear John: 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, Gloria.

George Pytlik

George Pytlik has been involved in the advertising industry for over 30 years and designed his first website when the Internet was one year old. He was an internationally recognized speaker on advertising and branding and served on a number of communication committees at various times throughout his career, as well as writing a regular column for Marketing magazine.

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