Actually, the Comma Goes Here: A Practical Guide to Punctuation
By Lucy Cripps
(154 pages, nonfiction, 2020)
Which is more intimate, the em dash or a comma? This little book succinctly articulates vague impressions and punctuation inclinations many of us may sense — or be oblivious to. Scrolls in ancient Greece had no punctuation whatsoever — not even spaces between letters. Marks were added to aid readers, indicating pauses or space for breath. Thus, according to author Lucy Cripps, placing a comma where “it feels right” may be most true to the origins of the symbol. With humor and brevity, Cripps sets out not to prescribe ‘proper’ punctuation, but rather to describe how it is currently used. What is more, she provides useful facts for disputing grammar snobs, understanding ‘deviation’ truly as ‘variation.’ (For example, forgotten period after “Dr” or “Mrs”? Not to fear — that is the ‘correct’ way in British English.) Cripps takes glee in sharing punctuation normatives alongside precisely which major style guides intentionally thwart them. Elucidating and entertaining, this is a fun and useful journey into punctuation. Perfect for any reader, writer, learner, or lover of English, this short book showcases the artistry inherent in using a dash, comma, colon, or any other punctuation mark.
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