Yes, I Am a Punctuation Stickler

First thing first. I am a stickler for punctuation. I hate it when people interchange theirs and there’s or its and it’s. I hate it when someone doesn’t put a full stop at the end of a sentence. I hate it when people go on rambling about something without putting a comma or a semicolon or a full stop anywhere in between. I can’t imagine someone being so careless.

I am a proofreader by profession. (That explains a lot, doesn’t it?) I get paid for pointing out people’s mistakes, defacing their drafts. I enjoy it; mainly because it makes you feel superior to the person whose draft you are reading, however great an author they may be. How could you miss that comma, you moron?!

Whenever I see a badly written copy with misplaced punctuation or very few punctuation, I cringe. I feel like picking up a pencil and putting up those ugly proofreading marks all over the page, even if it’s a web page! It takes efforts to resist that temptation.

But I fear this temptation may land me in trouble someday. I have developed a proofreader’s eye. It’s like, while reading, my eyes only look for mistakes. And after spotting them, I naturally feel like pointing them out. But everybody does not like to be corrected, especially if they have not paid you for that.

Facebook is a real nightmare. It’s an ultimate test of your patience. Every alternate status update or post has one or the other punctuation mistake. What do you do in such a case? There have been a few instances when I have shown the audacity to point out people’s mistakes at the cost of sounding rude or ruining their status updates.

Aesthetics is not the only reason I wear my sticklerness on my sleeve. A good copy, with proper grammar and punctuation, is obviously a good copy. It is readable and lucid, doesn’t have confusing sentences, and doesn’t make a reader stop mid-way and reread something unnecessarily. (Unless, well, if the write-up is about astrophysics. In that case, punctuation marks will not help you much, sorry.)

I am not a snob. I do not mean to deride people who genuinely lack the knowledge about proper usage of punctuation. My problem is with the people who know but are careless, or the people who have never taken the efforts to learn. Today we are using written words more than ever in our history. Texting and other forms of written communication constitute a large part of our total communication pie. Hence, it is important that we are careful about how we write. It will help in avoiding confusions and misunderstandings, and also in frictionless communication.


12 thoughts on “Yes, I Am a Punctuation Stickler

  1. Phew! I must be really careful as I write this. 🙂 😛 Nice one Tejas. Another annoyance is putting a comma instead of an apostrophe in spite of repeated corrections like don,t… agrrh!

  2. Facebook and blogs are not English literary works. We cannot ask everyone in India to be perfect with their grammar, because English is not our Mother Tongue. I have lived in rural India for more than decade and I understand how tough it is for people there to understand punctuation.
    Some are careless, but for many it is just confusion.

    • English not being our mother tongue should not be an excuse for being careless in our writings. There are many Indians who know this language even better than the native English speakers. I know Facebook and blogs are not literary works but properly crafted sentences are just easier to read and understand. I think our education system is greatly to be blamed for the fact that very few people understand how to use punctuation marks properly.

  3. This post connects with me deeply. I am not a proofreader by profession. For me, the transgression is unforgivable. Yet, it is not something I can help. It bothers me intensely to see poorly crafted sentences. As for “texting” English, don’t lets get into that, shall we? 🙂

  4. Hey! Your articles are absolutely brilliant. I enjoy reading them. You have keen observation skills. Most people just observe, however, interpreting what you observe and putting it into words is no easy task. Good job!
    I can completely agree with you when you say that english not being a primary/native language should not be an excuse for being careless. The most common excuse I’ve heard for lack of proper punctuations and for using short forms is lack of time ( People are busy these days! ). Yet, with the advent of autocorrect it hardly takes seconds. So, I refuse to accept any such excuse. It is what it is – lack of willingness.

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