If you’ve been following the news this week, you know that England is going all out to rebury the body of Richard III. Much pomp and pageantry is involved with a parade and the lying in state of his coffin at Leicester Cathedral. His skeletal remains were found under a car park in 2012.
Shakespeare immortalized Richard III in his play of the same name and most of us have heard the quote from this play “A horse! a horse! my kingdom for a horse!” This memorable line is used at the point in the play where Richard III is about to meet his fate at the hands of the future Henry VII, all for the lack of a horse implying that he was going to lose it all, i.e. his kingdom, for lack of something relatively insignificant by comparison.
As writers we put a great deal of thought into our work. Sometimes without even realizing it, we select wording and vocabulary that sound good and flow well together even before we commit them to paper or a computer keyboard. We research our topic if we’re writing nonfiction, our characters and settings if we’re writing fiction, usually intending to create a particular tone and/or relay a particular message.
But sometimes, sometimes we can completely change the meaning of what we intended to say, because we forget to add or correctly position a mere comma.
How’s this for an example?
Let’s eat, John. versus Let’s eat John.
Learn More About Commas
Here are a few sites where you can read more about the proper use and placement of commas:
And, a couple of sites where you can laugh at the impact a poorly placed, or altogether missing, comma can make:
- A light-hearted look at how punctuation can change meaning
- 7 Times When A Comma Has Made A MAJOR Difference
- 25 Biggest Comma Fails
- One little comma could make a huge difference
So, be mindful of your punctuation, in particular the lowly comma. It’s placement can make a huge difference. “A comma! A comma! My meaning for a comma!
Photo credit: William Hogarth [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons