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Wanton Cruelty to the Common Comma

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The Greengrocer's' Apostrophe strike's again!

Rimmer: [dictating] After intensive investigation, comma, of the markings on the alien pod, comma, it has become clear, comma, to me, comma, that we are dealing, comma, with a species of awesome intellect, colon.
Holly: Good. Perhaps they might be able to give you a hand with your punctuation.
Red Dwarf, "Waiting for God"

Describe: Wanton Cruelty. to-the' Common...!Comma; here,

Sometimes, a particular convention, grammar, or usage glitch will kill a viewer's Willing Suspension of Disbelief, driving them straight out of the text they're reading. This trope is all about those sorts of glitches. Notwithstanding the name of this trope, it applies equally to all punctuation; whether it's crushing a colon, squeezing a semicolon, dividing a slash, interrogating a question mark, or bullying a period, all misuse and disrespect of punctuation is included here.

Named for Sam Vimes' description of one of the distinguishing features of Captain Carrot's writing.

Related to Rouge Angles of Satin, and most definitely a Berserk Button of any Grammar Nazi. No Punctuation Period and Tenses are subtropes. Compare with You No Take Candle, when there are errors in the grammar instead of the punctuation, but can easily overlap with this trope, and Punctuation Shaker where random punctuation is inserted to make language look exotic and/or alien.

Please try to avoid sounding like a Grammar Nazi when adding examples. Remember also, for the purpose of keeping oneself sane, that language, especially English, changes throughout time. What you think is a mistake may soon become so common that it is the norm, and in twenty years your descendants will be correcting you for doing it the old way. Try not to slap them for it.

Self-demonstrating examples are alright, but please, for the sake of readability, try not to go overboard.


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  • As shown in the Red Dwarf quote, found at the top of the page, the overpresence, or abundance, one might say, of commas is a phenomenon which, to some, can, seemingly, cause frustration.
    • Sentences, like the one above, where every comma has a defensible, albeit overly fussy, reason for being there, are less aggravating, than sentences, where commas, are just thrown, in, wherever the speaker might pause, to take a breath.
      • There's some logic behind using punctuation, to indicate pauses, because that's what they were invented for. The first punctuation marks, were seen in Greek plays, and indicated, where the actor should insert, a Dramatic Ellipsis, with the mark itself, denoting the length, of, the pause. Having said that, it's no longer the time of Christ, so try not to punctuate, as if it were.
  • Some writers like to use ellipses in place of commas which... besides being infuriating to those who understand the proper use of the ellipsis... makes it look like the writer is either leaving out a lot or just struggling to think of a way to end the sentence (or is William Shatner...Or Christopher Walken). In addition.... the number of periods used in said ellipses tends to vary wildly..... anywhere from the standard three (or four at the end of a sentence, to be overly technical)................................................................. to infinity and beyond.
  • Exclamation points do not stack!!! Not even when you're writing out dialogue for BRIAN BLESSED!!!!!!!!!
    • Nor are exclamation points to be used when someone is speaking calmly. For some reason, people like to put an exclamation point at the end of a quote where the original delivery was entirely deadpan. Some kids' comics tend to use them, though, probably for emphasis.
      • In many languages exclamation marks are used a lot as a mark of imperative: "Go to your room!" often gets an exclamation mark even if it isn't shouted. This doesn't mean it has to: "Go to your room" is still perfectly valid.
      • Once in a while, amazing as it sounds, there is a reason for this. In old comic books the printing was so shoddy that an isolated dot could easily be left out, so many classic comics end every single sentence with an exclamation mark just to make sure there would be something.
    • "And all those exclamation marks, you notice? Five? A sure sign of someone who wears his underpants on his head."
  • Did you know that question marks don't stack, either?? Are you aware that several question marks at the end of a statement aren't needed to make people know how confused you are about something???? One is enough, you know???????? Do you see how redundant this is????????????????
    • Two question marks may be acceptable to some, to convey a certain tone of confusion and incredulity. Chess annotations often use them to indicate major tactical blunders.
    • For question marks and exclamation marks, the Rule of Three seems to be in effect. You can, mainly because of convention, get away with maybe three exclamation points, but this is usually the limit. And it would be typically for a loud shout or scream (e.g. Big "NO!"). You hardly ever see two exclamation marks, just one or three, and you hardly ever see more than one question mark except to denote complete confusion.
  • Use of "quotation marks" for "emphasis," which make readers think you're being "sarcastic."
    • Often happens by accident on this very wiki, when editors get the ''italics markup'' wrong.
    • Also using "quotation" marks to "isolate" any word that might be seen as "racy" or "unusual" or is in the "slightest bit of doubt." Reading text like this is infinitely more fun if you do "finger quotes" every time it comes up.
      • The technical term is "scare quotes," referring to the idea that the author is scared of the term and wants to distance himself from it, or wants to scare the viewer with it.
      • Scare quotes are unfairly named, as they do have some legitimate uses. They can express subtle irony when used correctly. They're also used in academic or formal writing to introduce an important term or phrase that the author believes will be unfamiliar to readers.
    • Furthermore, technically, punctuation should only go inside the quotation marks when quoting the sentence, and not just for "a few words". Quotations for "emphasis" usually fall "under this". "Do you see what I'm saying?"
  • Behold thy savior: The "Blog" of "Unnecessary" Quotation Marks!
  • This is actually correct in Japanese (well, they use corner brackets (「...」) instead of quotation marks ("..."), but it's the same concept). However, that doesn't mean you can leave it when translating a manga, since then you'll make the dialogue sound funny.
  • Greengrocers Apostrophe's: the use of an apostrophe to tell people whether the "s" on the end of the word is a plural or part of the word. So now you know the fruit/vegetable is called a banana (plural bananas) and not a bananas (plural presumably bananases), although you'd think context would have make it clear a greengrocer would not be selling a single "bananas". Interestingly, unlike other example's, this used to be acceptable but fell out of fashion.
    • For some reason this error is particularly common in Japan. Thus video games have received titles such as Y's,note  8 Eye's, Pig's and Bomber's, Ninja Master's and Steam Heart's. While the title of Ninja Princess is free of such spurious apostrophes, its beginning screen does say "Princess'es Adventure Starts."
    • The erroneous apostrophe-s ending is also quite common in Swedish (but found chiefly on signs put up by small businesses, so greengrocers indeed). This is mostly understood as an anglicism, since the Swedish language normally doesn't use apostrophes to indicate possessives.
    • There used to be a hairdresser's shop in Wautoma, Wisconsin named "Hi's and Her's Hair Salon".
    • Also, the 3rd person present singular form of a verb should not have an apostrophe. It should be "Bob reads a book", not "Bob read's a book".
    • In Norwegian, the erroneous apostrophe-s ending is not unusual. In Norwegian, the genitive is formed by adding an -s, but not an apostrophe (unless the word ends in -s, -x, or -z, in which case you only add an apostrophe and not an -s).
    • There is at least one minicab company going by the name of "1'st Taxis"
    • Note that the rules are less clear for the plural forms of letters. Some recommend always using an apostrophe, others only for lowercase letters ("Dikkens with two Ks, but mind your p's and q's").
  • The use of + to mean "and". This is only acceptable in handwriting, where many people substitute a plus sign for the ampersand on the understandable grounds that "&" is hard to write. But seriously, if you're on a keyboard, you've got the "&" right there. Why would you use a "+"? In Boolean algebra, "+" is actually used for the "or" operator.For those unclear on the last bit 
  • To quote the sig of a GameFAQs user:
    — Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are (usually) unnecessary.
  • Did you know that mixing exclamation points and question marks is technically wrong?! You didn't know you have to choose one or the other!? You've never heard of the interrobang‽ I'm not surprised. It's non-standard. But if you insist on writing incredulous statements that require both and aren't willing to compromise on one or the other, you should probably get to know U+203D.
  • Contractions using apostrophes to join words, then ultimately losing them, is a standard evolutionary form in the English language. Yet, "Halloween" has recently seen a trend of people putting the apostrophe back in and spelling it "Hallowe'en". Part of this is Rule of Cool (it looks appropriately archaic and spooky), but there also seems to be a mistaken belief that Halloween's apostrophe only disappeared in the last few decades (Wrong. The Oxford English Dictionary dates "Halloween" to 1786). In fact, "Hallowe'en" isn't even the original contracted form of All Hallows' Evening (which was Hallow-e'en). For comparison, see "God be with ye" becoming "good-b'ye"note  and then finally "goodbye", yet you don't see anyone putting the apostrophe back in there.

  • Overuse of commas is bad but to some readers nothing drives them up the wall quite like no commas whatsoever because it sounds like the author is speaking without pause going on and on and on and on giving no hint of when a pause in speech is happening and destroying what logical flow exists in the text making it impossible to follow let alone read out loud. (And given the reasons behind punctuation's invention as detailed above we tropers are not smoking something by claiming their lack is the same as a lack of pauses.)
    • The non-use of commas in favor of "or" in a list of things such as shopping or tools or books or animals or foods or games or other things is also annoying.
    • The perfect example of the importance of commas: compare "No, don't stop!" with "No, don't, stop!" Another example: "Let's eat, Grandma!" versus "Let's eat Grandma!"
      • Other examples include "I helped my uncle, Jack, off his horse" vs. "I helped my uncle jack off his horse" or "Woman without her man is useless" vs. "Woman: without her, man is useless".
    • As with any rule, underuse of commas can still be done right. The Great Gatsby is notorious for its lack of them, and considering that Fitzgerald spent hours choosing individual words, it's unlikely that he left any commas out by accident.
      • Although he did make a few errors in his word choice (referring to the retina as a visible part of the eye, for example), so it's still possible.
    • Sometimes, the lack of commas is acceptable in a form of media, often to make the author sound like a Motor Mouth.
    • However adverbials at the start of sentences are often mistaken for conjunctions, leading to the omission of a necessary comma. In even worse cases longer phrases which are clearly not conjunctions will lack commas as well.
    • Some writers have formed the mistaken idea that "and" should never be preceded by a comma. A comma marks a pause, and often helps to clarify the overall sentence structure. In particular, it's often necessary when a sentence contains both an "and" conjoining two nouns and an "and" conjoining two clauses. For example: "Today I will wash my house and my car, and book a flight." Without the comma, the reader is momentarily misled into including "book" as one of the things washed. The following words immediately clarify, but why cause the reader any problem at all when it's so easily avoided?
      • Technically the rule is that a comma before the "and" marks the end of the clause. Therefore if the sentence only has one subject, you do not use the comma before the "and." So the above sentence should actually be "A comma marks a pause and often helps to clarify the overall sentence structure." This is because "comma" is the only subject. The "and" is simply denoting two separate verbs. And while I'm on it, "a comma marks a pause" is not quite accurate. You can't just pepper in commas when you want someone to pause. You need a grammar rule to back up your usage, such as marking the end of a clause.
      • A good way of teaching this is to show how lists of words function with the addition of paired words. "Ambrosia and Nevras, Anideshi and Azrael, Yazim Jianne, Aqorm, Elias, and Michael set next to Lilith at the table in the wedding." In this sentence, the ones that are couples are paired, while the ones that bachelors or in unsteady relationships are not. You might also pair ham and eggs together on a breakfast listing if they are mixed together in a scramble, along with toast and jam, while milk, and juice as separate items.
      • A better example for when to use the Oxford Comma (the comma that precedes "and", especially in the last item of a list): "This book is dedicated to my parents, Charlie Chaplin, and Groucho Marx".
  • Another one often found on the Internet is lack of question marks when appropriate. It can be useful for asking questions flatly, but otherwise, why on Earth do people do this.
  • In extreme cases theres No Punctuation Period
    • this is even worse when its all lowercase
  • Poor little-known, seldom-used hyphen. Many people seems to have a deep-seated hatred of this too-discreet punctuation mark — or don't even know it exists. From seven-year-old schoolchildren to seventy-year-old veterans, no-one uses it any more. And still, it's a quite easy-to-implement means of word-linking for making clearly readable statements, whether in complex or not-so-complex texts.
    • Standard keyboard layouts in mind, ideally, people should become aware that there are distinct characters for hyphens, dashes, and the minus sign. Would you bet on people never considering it bothersome?
      • To a typographer the above are hyphens, En dashes, and Em dashes (what you are calling a minus sign is an En dash). The difference is the length of the line. Sadly, most keyboards just use the same thing for all, and typographers must dive into a font's glyphs to get the appropriate one.
  • People who don't close their parentheses (this is very annoying.
    • Even worse, people who use other punctuation marks for parentheticals — which is a thing you're allowed to do under the rules of grammar and then forget to close their alternative-marking parentheticals. This can be less obvious to the untrained eye... which may explain why it's so widespread.
    • And also, people using parentheses inside parentheses. Besides the fact it is considered bad style (you shouldn't use more than one set (otherwise it can get really confusing (by disturbing the flow of the text) to the reader (forcing him to backtrack again and again)) inside a sentence), when having to do so you should use different punctuation (parenthesis first [then square brackets {then curly brackets (and only then back to parentheses [and so on {ad infinitum}])}]) for the secondary, tertiary, and higher-order interruptions inside the parentheses, as to make it easier to know which phrase is being closed. (Not a hard rule, but it really makes comprehension easier.)
      • The switching parenthesis type rule probably originates in typesetting practices for mathematical formulae, but there is was primarily a substitute for larger parenthesis sizes, and is now essentially obsolete (although practice varies between different branches of mathematics, with switching being more common close to physics). Brackets for a parenthesis can be justified as a way of stressing that what they surround constitutes a natural whole. Braces for a parenthesis are almost never seen except in some fixed notation involving Laplace (and the like) transforms, since their main interpretation nowadays would be that of denoting the set of what the braces surround.
      • Just be sure to nest them properly (the parentheses [unless you want to confuse someone) like computer programmers].
      • Computer programmers are used to using several parentheses nested inside one another, and sometimes find it annoying when the type of parentheses switch, because different parentheses mean different things! Like { methods returning (various things from array_entries[21]);}
      • Switching type of parenthesis can be just as wrong in natural language. In a quote, square brackets usually delimit remarks [sic!] or edits by the quoting author, so if nested parentheses are turned into brackets then the result could get very hard to quote properly.
      • And God forbid it when someone both uses parentheses within parentheses and doesn't close them. (Honestly, this is the most annoying thing ever. (This is bad enough on places like YouTube (Less forgivable on conversation-based sites like forums.)
      • Most style guides forbid the use of nested parentheses except in the case of symbolic use (such as math equations or programming examples). If you really must break into a parenthetical note with another, internally separated idea (which is almost never strictly necessary — though it can be useful for certain stylistic purposes), the correct method is to either use an em-dash or restructure the whole sentence to avoid the problem entirely.
      • The general term for all these kinds of punctuation is brackets. The terms for the various kinds differ, often along the lines of American and British English: () = AE: parentheses, BE: (round) brackets; [] = AE: brackets, BE: square brackets; {} = braces (sometimes known as curly brackets); ⟨⟩ = angle brackets, or chevrons (<> is sometimes used as a poor man's set of angle brackets). For programmers, who use most of these regularly, they are (usually) parens, square brackets, curlies, and angle brackets (in this case almost always using the less-than/greater-than characters). The text within (any kind of) brackets is known as a parenthesis.
  • "James while John had had had had had had had had had had had a better effect on the teacher" is a perfect example of what happens when punctuation goes awry.
    • What happens when Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo. You get a lot of angry buffalo. Remarkably, the comma-free version of this is actually the correct version (unless you're from before the Middle Ages, and, thus, use a comma to indicate each and every pause in the sentence).
      • No, you get a lot of buffaloed buffalo. In fact, you get a lot of buffaloed Buffalo buffalo.
  • Though the overuse of exclamation marks is well known, it can be just as distracting not to see one where you might reasonably expect to, such as in dialogue when the tag is something like "yelled", "shrieked" or (especially) "exclaimed".
    • This is actually due to the limitations of trying to continue a sentence after the quotation. If you put an exclamation there, it can also be understood that a second person is warning Bob, and (new sentence) Bob shouted. When using the exclamation point you can either take this risk, or make a habit of switching to something like
    Bob shouted, "You'd better run before the lion gets you too!"
  • One extremely common error is the absence of commas at the end of dialogue. For example; "This looks bad" he said. This is fairly minor, but it can be annoying when it occurs too often.
    • Or "This looks bad." He said. It creates a stop in the sentence which makes the "he said" sound awkward and out of place.
      • The thing about quotation marks is that they are, to a certain extent, superfluous; the sentence should make sense without them. So try taking them out. This looks bad he said. and This looks bad. He said. are pretty clearly both wrong. This looks bad, he said., in contrast, is quite clear, and practically doesn't need the quotation marks put back in. That's why it's correct.

    • In EULAs that may be the desired effect.
    • This can be done for effect, in small amounts, particularly as a text-based LARGE HAM! But by god a long block of text in all capitals is the most evil thing in existence.
    • Some Internet fora will change any post in all-caps so that it capitalizes only the first letter of every word. It's a nice compromise since it prevents you having to read all-caps, while still allowing you to deride those attempting to use them.
  • Capitalizing The First Letter Of Every Word Does Not Make You Look Smart, People That Do It. Even If It Took All That Extra Effort.
    • It Could Also Make You Sound Like A Golem.
    • Or Kanaya.
    • Or A Dalek.
    • Or Like The Title Of A Book. Incidentally, proper title capitalization is a bit more complex than Capitalizing The First Letter Of Every Word. Articles (a, an, the), coordinating conjunctions (for, and, not, but, or, yet, so) and prepositions (at, by, to, etc.) are not capitalized unless they are the first or last word in the title, though prepositions over four letters long (above, below, under, etc.) may or may not be capitalized depending on the style book. Those subtleties are routinely ignored in favor of either Capitalizing Every Word or French-style title capitalization (only the first word and proper nouns are capitalized).
  • Capitalizing odd Words in the middle of Sentences may have been common in the 18th Century, but not any more. Back then, most nouns were capitalized (the same thing is still done in German).
    • Capitalizing Random Words actually has an effect on how you can Read them (pausing before the word and emphasizing the capitalized word), as well as the Sense you derive from them (you can actually cause the reader to perceive a different lexical entry, even a different pronunciation: lima, Lima). This makes certain Capital Letters very useful in certain Contexts, but obviously suffers from overuse as much as the next writing Convention.
    • Some writers have a tendency to capitalize (or have their characters capitalize) Very Important Words, usually for the sake of comedy. One can generally expect that other characters are able to hear the capital letters, somehow. Also, Depending on the Writer, this might be a case of a Lemony Narrator abusing stylistic conventions, a character being too Genre Savvy for their own good, or even a Troper.
      • This is basically Capital Letters Are Magic. Of course, unless you're Tolkien, once you start doing it, it's easy to start getting confused.
    • One particular convention with capitals involves the name of creatures, fantasy races, aliens, and so forth: a species name on its own shouldn't be capitalized, a group name based on a proper noun (such as a nation or a political group) should be, and a name derived from something else note  could go either way. In general usage, though, the trend in older works was to capitalize indiscriminately (especially science fiction, but also newly invented fantasy races, so you would have, say, "elves" and "Kender" coexisting). This is not helped at all by the tendency for those races to only have one nation, making it unclear which rule it should follow. Some more recent works have started making the distinction, though. Of course, those unlucky souls writing in 'verses that use capitals, have the choice of annoying the pedants by including them, or the purists by leaving them off.
  • complete lack of capitalization even when needed, on the other hand, is not much better. capitals are integral part of the rules for spelling. there is no excuse for ignoring them. whether you are called e.e. cummings, jack, peter, or alice, or that your birth language is english, french, german or spanish... it just shows writers who don't care (or don't even know what the shift key is for).
    • ah (but?) eecummings, use-d p!unctu ation: at times albeit— rather. idiosyncratically,,,
    • cummings disregarded punctuation as a stylistic choice to say something about his writing or emphasize where he did use punctuation. he did know what proper punctuation was.
    • intentional lack of capitalization can be used stylistically to make text feel less formal, more laid back or more down to earth, and especially to suggest the writer isn't stuffy or anal. punctuation may or may not be altered from formal usage.
    • it can make the writer look anally informal though.
    • and it can be difficult for dyslexics to decipher. do you mean john or john?
    • if you ever use all lowercase without punctuation you should probably just give up on whatever you were trying to say
  • AnD nEvEr EvEr AlTeRnAtE-cApS mEsSaGeS unLeSs YoU'Re wRiTiNg A rAnSoM nOtE; iT's JuSt HoRrIbLe To ReAd. SaDlY sOmE pEoPlE aCtUaLlY tYpE lIkE tHiS...
  • This is why correct capitalization is important. Compare:
    • "I had to help my Uncle Jack off a horse."
    • "I had to help my uncle jack off a horse."
  • Harry Potter fanfic writers take note: in J.K. Rowling's books, the word Muggle is always and without exception capitalized. The same goes for most wizarding vocabulary, with only words that already in common usage (such as "wizard", "broomstick" and "unicorn") not being so.
    • Note that this does not follow normal English rules, as "Muggle" is a descriptive term not derived from a nationality. It was merely a deliberate stylistic choice on Rowling's part.

    Just Plain Wrong 
  • An error whose commonness almost makes itself a trope is using the abbreviation "i.e." to mean "for example." This is wrong, wrong, wrong. "e.g." means "exempli gratia," or "for example." "i.e." means "id est,"note  or "that is." Use i.e. for clarification and e.g. for demonstration. There is some overlap in meaning, but it's important to know the difference.
    • To provide an example of why this is wrong: "Young mammals, i.e. (THAT IS) kittens, are usually cute" or "Young mammals, e.g. (FOR EXAMPLE) kittens, are usually cute"?
  • "Said Bookisms are unnecessary!" a troper complained.
    • Neil Gaiman (paraphrased): "Said" is like the arrow of a word balloon, more a reading aid than an actual word. Use it consistently and it becomes invisible.
    • Incidentally, the same also applies to "asked".
    • That said (sorry), when you have two pages of conversation and every line starts with 'Foo said' or ends with 'Bar said', that's not much better. Although this may be a symptom of wandering onto the Featureless Plane of Disembodied Dialogue.
    • Dialogue tags other than said are effective only if they are used sparingly, in places where they clarify or (occasionally) emphasize the dialogue. Overuse doesn't simply annoy the reader: it diminishes the effect of the words themselves, to the point where they are virtually meaningless. If every character "exclaims" every line, the word will not have the desired effect, or any effect at all, when one actually does "cry out; say something violently or vehemently" (the dictionary definition of the word "exclaim").
    • Tagging the speaker's names before his/her dialogue can solve this transparently: you identify the speaker quickly and it doesn't intrude into the flow of the narration. Movies scripts, video game captions, interactive novels, This Very Wiki,... all of them have been narrating this way without calling your attention to it.
    Alice: "Poor sod got cut off the line, never reached his ex again."
    Bob: "Saw that coming."
    Charlie: "Lovely, so that's why you called her his ex."
    • This doesn't work in every medium, so know what medium you're writing for and be aware. Using "he said" as a verbal comma in a novel to build suspense in the middle of a sentence is perfectly acceptable. While you don't want to see "he said" or "she said" before or after every line of dialogue in a novel, be aware that when reading it out loud to an audience those omitted tags become critically important unless you're Mel Blanc. So put them in for public readings or recordings. Your listener will thank you.
  • Due to the fact that it can be seen a lot on this very wiki, it might be worth mentioning that "due to the fact that" is unwieldy and should not be used. You can usually do the same thing with "because (reason)" ("Because I've seen it a lot...") or "due to (reason)", and if not, you should probably rework the sentence anyway. You could also use a semicolon: "I like pancakes because they taste delicious" becomes "I like pancakes; they taste delicious."
  • And,besides merely improper use of punctuation,there are also those who seems to think that adding a space after a comma,a period,a semicolon,or any other sign is optional.Not so;the space is an integral part of the punctuation.There may be some debate whether you should put one or two spaces after a full stop,but zero isn't an option.Especially in word-processed text(or HTML),where the space is the only thing telling the computer where it can break the line.Without it,words clusters together and it can result in irregular line feeds,making paragraphs look ugly.And most spellcheckers don't like it,either.
  • Two spaces after a period was standard in the days of fixed-width fonts. Since the period was so small yet took up a full character's space it could appear to be "floating" between the sentences and impact readability. A second space was added afterwards to firmly fix the period to the end of the preceding sentence. With the proliferation of variable-width fonts, the additional space became obsolete since the period could naturally fall immediately after the final letter of its sentence. Most modern applications render sentences without the additional space even if it's present in the underlying text and most style guides have call for only a single space these days. Typists who learned prior to the mid-to-late-90s still type the extra space simply because it's habit. Neither one space nor two spaces are absolutely incorrect but in professional settings your organization's style guide should be consulted and adhered to.
    • Even in modern times, the extra space has its uses, as it makes it easier to tell the difference between a space between two words and a space between two sentences.
  • Orwhataboutnospacesatall?Wouldn'tthatbequiteannoying,too?
    • Though sometimes this is done intentionally to represent the hastened speech of a Motor Mouth.
    • There's a reason spaces were invented in the first place. The oldest manuscripts have no spaces at all, and trying to make sense of them is a big job.
  • Some languages, such as Swedish, have a lot of compound words. This means that putting spaces where spaces should not be, or removing spaces that should be there, can have a large impact on the meaning (every day vs the days of the workweek, something being brown-haired vs something being brown and hairy, etc.). It would be Ambiguous Syntax, except the syntax is perfectly clear.
    • The organization Astronomer mot orddeling exists to counteract this in Norwegian because in Norwegian too, compound words are usually written without spaces. The website provides examples of funny misunderstandings that are caused by misusing spaces in compound words, for example "blind vei" (blind road) instead of "blindvei" (dead end).
    • Phonetic Japanese has no spaces, which can be frustrating. Actually, Japanese has no spaces, period, but vertically written ideograms don't need them much. Unfortunately, you don't see Japanese written vertically in pure ideograms as often as you did in previous centuries. The fact that they've standardized kanji more than makes up for that, but it's still a headache if you're not used to having to work out where words end.
    • Reading a passage rendered mostly in kana is difficult even for a native speaker (well, reader). When written in kanji, however, it's much easier to determine where one word ends and another starts.
  • "When writing dialogue," Bob explained, "you should always add a paragraph break when a new person talks." Alice shook her head. "Why's that?" she asked. "Because if you don't, it becomes very difficult to tell who's talking at what time," Bob yelled.
    • As a corollary, when you paragraph-break a monologue, you always omit the end-paragraph quotation marks for all but the last paragraph of the monologue; doing so lets the readers know the paragraphs are still being spoken by the person doing the monologue, and not by anyone else, or is a non-speaking paragraph.
    • "As a second corollary, remember that dialogue tags are never capitalized." Said Bob. "Do you mean that I should keep them lower case even when I end a sentence with a question mark?" Asked Alice. "Yes." Said Bob. "You should also keep in mind that if the sentence would normally end with a period, the period should be replaced with a comma— but only if the period comes before the dialogue tag,"
    • "Fourth of all," continued Bob, "the speaker and his/her actions belong in the same paragraph."
      "Why is that, Bob?" asked Alice.
      "Because otherwise, the readers could get confused and mistake who is speaking." Alice persisted.
      "But shouldn't quotes begin a paragraph?" Bob shook his head.
      "Not necessarily." Alice shrugged.
    • As mentioned above, it's possible to break rules if you really know what you're doing. The new-paragraph-for-new-speaker rule is one of the ones you see broken most frequently: one character says something, and the description of other characters' reaction include dialogue. Because a paragraph break would kill the flow, the rule is discarded and one kind of readability trumps another.
      • One way to ensure this sort of writing works is to alternate sentence order and format, like so: "We have to get to the goblins' lair," Ambrosia said. Anideshi asked, "Why's that?" "Because." In the last sentence, you know that it's Ambrosia speaking from its shift from quote first, then speaker first, and then no speaker in the last sentence.
  • And in a similar vein, there's the Block Paragraph Of Doom, where the writer fails to break up the story into paragraphs at all. Not bad in a drabble, but tedious to the point of TL;DR in a multi-chapter fic. Conversely, The Sun and the other tabloids often seem to think it's obligatory to start a new paragraph with each sentence. Wrong. Start a new paragraph when there is a new thought; the first sentence states the theme of the paragraph, and subsequent sentences clarify it.
    • Many would dispute whether the typical tabloid article involves any thought - other than "I hate x" - at all.
    • This also applies to the dialogue point immediately above: short-reactions are allowed but the paragraph should focus on a single person's idea. Another person's cogent rebuttal or addition merits its own paragraph.
  • Very few people seem to get cannot vs. can not right, and write can not where it should be cannot. Even raging Grammar Nazis routinely get this one wrong. With cannot, negation has scope over the modal ("not possible to X"); in the case of can not, conversely, the modal has scope over negation ("possible to not X"). John cannot go to school means that John lacks the ability to go to school; John can not go to school means that he has the option not to go to school.
    • Not necessarily the option. This brings us to the oft-encountered mistake of people confusing may and can. No, it's not just "polite" to use "May I?" instead of "Can I?"; "May I?" is actually the more logical choice because can refers to one's ability to do something, whereas may refers to permission.
      • If people are really bugged by this, try thinking of it as an abbreviation: "Can I do X?" is a short version of "Can I do X without you getting mad at me?"
      • This is actually a myth, perpetuated by generations of schoolteachers. "Can" in this context has been correct since the 19th century except in formal writing.
      • After all, isn't "may" just a word denoting possibility, just like "can"? "I may not be able to make it tonight."
    • Back to the original: a potential workaround is to exploit the beloved but underused hyphen. "John cannot run" and "John can not-run" clearly mean two different things, and the hyphen links the negation to the thing it negates. However, this is less intuitive and should only be used if the awkward construction is, you know, all necessary-ish.
      • A more intuitive way of doing this is use of italics: John can not run. This does run the risk of confusion with an emphatic "cannot", but it tracks typical usage, especially because the construction is most commonly used when stating multiple options:" John can go to school, or he can not go to school; the choice is his."
  • One increasingly common error on the Internet is typing a semicolon instead of a colon. For a while, it seemed like a misconception about where semicolons belong (it was especially common in cases where a comma or dash would have worked as well), but now it's starting to crop up between titles and subtitles (for example "Breakin' 2; Electric Boogaloo"), so it's hard to tell if this is a grammatical error or people's shift keys failing at inopportune times.
  • A dash and a hyphen are not the same thing — way too many people use single hyphens for dashes-without even any spaces around them-and create confusion for people who rightly attempt to read the hyphenated words as conjoined words. Doubling a hyphen, enclosing it in spaces, or both, is enough to serve as a substitute dash if you don't know how to create the real thing, although in publication (as well as formal papers) real dashes are expected, so it's best to learn how. (For the record, double hyphens now auto-convert to dashes on this Wiki, so you don't have to muck about with HTML character codes or memorize the keyboard code to type the real thing.)
    • By "figure out" we mean "discover which method will cause your word processor to convert hyphen to dash". For example, Open Office Writer and Libre Office Writer will automatically change both word - word and word ‐‐ word to word — word. Word Perfect X9 will only change the double hyphen form. But all three of these will change word‐‐word into word—word. Figure out what your word processor expects and it will do the work for you.
  • If you restructure your sentence so that you don't end it with a preposition... then make sure you don't double up. I don't know for what reason people do this for.
    • Perhaps the most common example of this is correcting for the old who vs whom issue, and then duplicating the preposition. Somebody thinks they shouldn't say "Who are we here for?" and "corrects" it into "For whom are we here for?"
    • A quick hint is the "m rule." If the sentence could use—or could be slightly modified to use—him, her or them, then "whom" should be used; if he, she, or they is the correct word, then "who" should be used.
    • Better yet, forget about the old bugaboo about not ending sentences with prepositions. It's a rule that was made up by people who were ignorant of the way English grammar actually works. It comes from a rule in Latin grammar: In Latin, a preposition must be followed by its object, otherwise there is no way to tell the object of the preposition.
      • Apocryphally, Winston Churchill was once told he couldn't end a sentence with a preposition. His response? "That is the sort of arrogant pedantry up with which I will not put."
    • State "you get what you pay for" in a way that has the same meaning, does not end with a preposition, and does not have significantly more words.
      • "That for which you pay, you get."
  • "it's" versus "its". The former is the contraction of "it is" (or "it has"), the latter is the neuter possessive. A good rule of thumb is, if the words "it is" don't fit in the sentence, use "its". For example, "The dog scratched it's balls" would be wrong. It just looks completely nonsensical, unless it's supposed to be a run-on sentence and the dog's name is "Balls."
    • Or if one Britisher is denying to another that a greyhound has been pulled out of a race. "The dog scratched? It's balls!" would then be quite correct.
    • Although in the neuter possessive, it's unlikely the dog would have balls to scratch.
  • Related, "who's" versus "whose". The former means "who is/has", the latter indicates possession. Consider: A car is being advertised for sale. You might ask, "Whose car is being sold?" or, "Who's the current owner of the car?"
    • You might also ask, "Who's car is being sold?" or, "Whose the current owner of the car?" If you do, surrounding crowds will probably beat you to the point of unconsciousness.
  • Speaking of contractions, some people don seem to realize just how important finishing certain contractions is. Some people can seem to finish contractions ending in "'t", which can become confusing when certain words come up. In some cases, the context can clarify the usage, but other times it can without causing confusion. Readable version  If you want to do this for reasons of Funetik Aksent, just don' forget an apostrophe, so the reader knows something ought to be there, and can guess appropriately.
  • Some people somehow have managed to assume that contractions such as must've and should've - contractions for must have and should have, respectively - are, due to their pronunciation, "must of" and "should of" respectively, and will use this form when they should have used the former. Needless to say, this is a giant mistake.
  • Then there are those who overuse "then" to connect a sequence of events. Then someone reads the work and stumbles over the verbal tic. Then the author wonders how he can avoid overusing "and" or "but" instead. Then the reader explains that "then" usually goes after the subject of the clause, and is not a conjunction. Then the writer has to start all over.
    • Speaking of "then", there's the then versus than issue. "Then" is used to sequence events as described above, "than" is used to denote the use of one option over another. For example, "I'd rather go to the movies than go to the park," means that the speaker prefers the option of going to the movies over the option of going to the park, while "I'd rather go to the movies then to the park," means that the speaker prefers to go to the movies and go to the park afterwards.
  • It's possible to replace parentheses, if you really must, with other punctuation marks. Em dashes work — it's one of their alternative uses — as do commas. However, if you are doing this, please — for the love of god) don't switch from one to the other halfway through.
  • A sentence that begins with "I wonder" should end with something other than a question mark, as the sentence is declarative, not interrogative. Otherwise, the sentence would be the speaker wondering if he or she is actually wondering something specific. I wonder why this mistake is so common.
    • It is acceptable to use a question mark and the phrase "I wonder" in the same sentence provided there is a comma after "I wonder". An example would be "I wonder, how many examples does this trope have?" as opposed to "I wonder how many examples this trope has." An implied version of this (with the speaker trailing off before actually asking the question) might be formatted as "I wonder...?"
  • "Your" (belonging to you) vs. "you're" (contraction of "you are") is a major offender. As seen elsewhere, irony is when somebody writes "Your an idiot."
  • Then you have those who confuse "lose" (to be defeated, to misplace or opposite of gain) and "loose" (untethered, untightened, or grammatically, figurative). Those who would write "Your a looser" could get a response such as "My a looser? As opposed to a tightener?"
  • "Converse" is a valid word, as is "conversation," its noun extension. "Conversate?" Not so much.
  • Then there are words people mispronounce and cannot be swayed that they're mispronouncing them. "Larynx", "spaghetti" (kids instance) and "chipotle" are common instances of this; on Atlanta TV, a series of ads for a home improvement company named Pinnacle features a little girl who insists on calling it "Picannle."

Example's from specific media:

    open/close all folders 

    Alternate, Reality-Games 
  • Ωmega Mart: The video for the final segment of the training video oddly does this:
    Congratulations! "You" now have "what it takes" to "join" the Omega Mart "family."

    Comic Book's 
  • A mildly famous scene from Preacher: "Improper use of inverted commas, Hoover! Improper use of inverted commas!!"
  • In The Boys (also by Garth Ennis), Hughie reads a comic book out loud: "an' he's goin'... I hope this hurts —in bold— every bit as much —in bold— as what you did —in bold— to that boyin bold... Why do they do that anyway? It's really annoyin' trynna read it, it makes it like stop-start, stop-start, stop-start, you know?"
  • Deadpool lampshaded his own overuse of the ellipsis by announcing he was "talking like...Shatner".
  • As a general rule, Silver Age Marvel comics would end every single sentence with an exclamation point! (Or a question mark, if necessary.) Justified a bit, as Stan Lee actually talks like that! Excelsior!
    • Same thing about movie / TV series parodies in MAD.
    • This might be because full stops didn't end up getting printed out very well. Later on, full stops would unnecessarily replace exclamation marks, losing some dramatic effect along the way.
  • As pointed out above in the capitalization section, Delirium of The Sandman comics frequently misuses capital letters. She also tends to go without commas and periods sometimes when she's rambling. Justified somewhat in that she's the Anthropomorphic Personification of, well, delirium.
  • The Mad Hatter from Batman as written by Jeph Loeb speaks in aLterNATinG cAPs.
  • DOCTOR DOOM possesses the power to speak all in BOLD CAPITAL LETTERS. This has been noticed and commented on by other characters besides the ususal Meta Guy's.
  • Speech Bubbles in general tend to be printed in ALL CAPS. The Ultimates specifically doesn't do that.
  • "Le Quiet Squad," an Inspector story in Pink Panther #5 (Gold Key, April, 1972) and a loose adaptation of the short subject of the same name, has the Inspector charged with keeping things quiet while his ill boss, the Commissioner, rests. Sgt. Deux Deux bursts in, slamming the door:
    Deux Deux: Inspector! I have discovered something you may be interested in!
    Inspector: Sergeant! How many times do I have to tell you...never end a sentence with a preposition! You should have said "in which you may be interested"!
    Deux Deux: (resignedly) Si.
  • In The Powerpuff Girls story "Smart and Smarter," Blossom breaks down an attack manuever to a geometric science, but the term "cosign" is used instead of the more apropos "cosine."

  • Mocked in a comic from Dilbert.
  • Krazy Kat. Along with some minor Xtreme Kool Letterz, many nouns would end up in quotation marks. This is not limited to Krazy's Funetik Aksent.
  • One Mafalda strip has Manolito seeing an ad for "Cigar's" and believing that Americanizing products by inserting an apostrophe-S after every noun is trendy now.

  • The old Soviet-era cartoon In The Land of Skipped Homework (В Стране Невыученных Уроков) had one phrase that later became the '''direct''' illustration of this trope. The lazy schoolboy Victor Perestukin and his cat Kuzya (who became a talking cat during his travels) had to pass various challenges, all based on the homework he skipped, as the title implies. The aforementioned illustration comes at the point where His Majesty the Verb in the Imperative Mood sentences him to death for crimes against grammar, but gives him the task of finishing it with one comma. The sentence read: "Execute not pardon".

    Fan works 
  • Mi Tru Lov contains many examples of this, including this gem at the start of chapter 10:
    moss cow and eye raun, ova da, hill, an m d, toards, the, hose, wasre, da ,c urj ahad bean da list tim I was with dem
  • Harry Potter fanfic My Immortal: "WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING YOU MOTHERFUKERS!" It was................................. Dumbledore!
    • Let's just say everything in My Immortal and call it a day.
  • While it runs across the board in this author's work, comma splicing is taken to the extremes in this piece.
  • Marie Birch, infamous figure in Red Dwarf internet fandom from the '90s. Known for putting, unnecessary commas, in all her fan fictions, like this, and, her fan fictions, were awful, to begin with.
  • If you are writing a Yiff fic in which a lutrine character claims that a certain part of his anatomy is "larger than most otters'", please, PLEASE remember the apostrophe.
    • In a similar but not identical manner, try and forget the capitalization in the sentence "I had to help my Uncle Jack off a horse." Come on, try it.
  • After Inception came out, a debate was started on the livejournal comm on which would make grammatical sense: Eames' Totem? Or Eames's Totem? Two pages of fierce debate later, and the conclusion seems to be... both.
  • If you're writing a Pokémon fic, make sure to put the names of Pokémon in caps. Otherwise half of the Pokémon-fic-reading population will stop in their tracks when reading over a sentence like "The pikachu fell on the ground, spiral-eyed". The other half, on the other hand, have it the opposite way.
  • The Girl Who Lived has many a run-on sentence. This is not missed by the sporkers.
  • Hogwarts Exposed is not kind to punctuation in general and semicolons in particular. Again, the sporkers have noticed. And like The Girl Who Lived, it also has more than its fair share of run-on sentences.
  • This Harry Potter fic. The second chapter alone is only five pages long on word processor, yet it has 357 commas.
  • Calvin & Hobbes: The Series struggles with this, especially in its earlier seasons - it's most notable whenever Swing123 takes the helm. "Dr. BrainChill Part 1", in particular, is insane with its exclamation point usage.
    Dr. Brainstorm: Oh, shut up!! I'm telling you aliens are coming!! And with each passing second they're getting even closer!! And as soon as they get in range, I'm sending them my auto transmission to see if they respond!! THIS COULD FINALLY BE MY CHANCE TO TAKE OVER THE WORLD!!!!!!!!!
  • Every other sentence in In This World and the Next is a comma splice, it gets very annoying very quickly, in the dialogue it reads as though everyone is hyperventilating.
  • This is pretty common in Swing123's works, along with Rouge Angles of Satin.
  • There are a lot of comma splices in Knowledge is Power. As one reviewer put it: "I think someone once told [the author] not to write ten sentences where one would suffice and he misinterpreted it."
  • Sorrowful and Immaculate Hearts: "Christmas in Kansas": An in-universe example: Clark Kent's favorite soda as a child was a local brand called "Tuckers Straw'berry Cream". At the end of the fic, Bruce Wayne buys the rights and recipe and puts it back into production as a gift to Clark, but insists on correcting the punctuation. "That apostrophe was a menace to society."
  • Triptych Continuum: In Triptych: Referenced by name, as Rainbow hasn't quite mastered the art of paragraphs. Or punctuation. Or... pretty much everything else. Coordinator's attempt to gather blackmail material makes him the first pony to read her entire manuscript, suffering migraines accordingly.
  • Four Walking Disasters: Without exception, the dialogue is written with a period between the dialogue and the dialogue tag, instead of the more correct comma. Like this: "This is an example sentence." Harry noted.

    Films — Live/Action 
  • Who Framed Roger Rabbit. The title is a question, but there is no question mark. Supposedly it wasn't included because question marks are considered "bad luck" in the film industry. The lack of punctuation implies that the title is an answer, not a question. That is, "the person 'who framed Roger Rabbit'."
  • Two Weeks Notice. It looks much better as the correct Two Weeks' Notice.
  • Kiss Kiss Bang Bang features a grammar joke with a call back. First Harmony explains to Harry the difference between "feeling bad" and "feeling badly." Later on Harry tries to belittle "Gay" Perry using the same rule, but Perry's usage is correct, as he instantly points out:
    "Gay" Perry: What, fuckhead? Who taught you grammar? Badly's an adverb. Get out. Vanish.
  • A good example of an unintentional spoken example occurs in the final scene of Big Daddy, when Sonny Koufax (Adam Sandler) tells the guests at his birthday party, "Let's go eat everybody!" Presumably, Sonny didn't believe that Hooters was a restaurant for cannibals.
  • Dope ends with a very ironic grammar error. The main character delivers a self-empowering speech to the camera in which he brags about getting straight A's and a near-perfect SAT score. In the end, he says, "Why do I want to go to Harvard? If I was white, would you even need to ask me that question?" The camera lingers on the last line, written out on his college application essay. He should have said "If I were white" because he's using the subjunctive mood. A straight-A Harvard applicant really ought to know that.
  • Eagle-eyed fans were quick to notice there were missing commas in the opening crawl of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, "[Leia] is desperate to find her brother Luke and gain his help in restoring peace and justice to the galaxy" needed commas before and after Luke's name. The lack of commas would only be correct if Leia had multiple brothers, which of course led to speculation that the filmmakers were dropping a casual hint of a long-lost Skywalker brother. Confirmed by Word of God to be just an error.

  • There's a famous joke about a misplaced comma in a nature brochure on panda bears. Instead of "Eats shoots and leaves" (meaning what pandas consume for food) it reads, "Eats, shoots and leaves," meaning that it eats, then uses a gun and finally leaves the area. There's a variant where the Australian army adopts the wombat as its mascot, because, like a soldier, it eats, roots, shoots and leaves.
  • Seen on a T-shirt:
    Commas save lives:
    Let's eat, Grandma
    Let's eat Grandma
  • There is an anecdote in Finnish language of the importance of proper punctuation. A convict sentenced for life in Siberia sent a letter to Czar, begging for mercy. He got reply "Armoa ei Siperiaan" (Mercy no Siberia)" So the poor bloke became even more desperate: did the Czar mean: "Armoa, ei Siperiaan" (Mercy, no Siberia) or "Armoa ei, Siperiaan" (Mercy no, Siberia!).

    Liter Ature 
  • As Adrian Mole believes himself to be the greatest writer that ever lived, he has a lot to say about punctuation:
    • "The exclamation marks give me some pain", on a note from Bianca where every sentence ends with an exclamation mark.
    • He himself uses a string of exclamation marks, writing "My mother is pregnant! My mother!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
    • Sharon Bott is a virtual stranger to the comma and the full stop, and probably thinks a semi-colon is a partial removal of the intestines.
    • Adrian's excuse for struggling to write the recipe book Offally Good. His mother ends up writing the book for him.
      You non-writers don't understand. There's the question of tense and tone and clarity, knowing when to use a semi-colon, and when only a colon will do!
  • A rare in-universe example in The Lord of the Rings when the company was held up in front of the Mines of Moria where they thought the doors read "Speak, friend, and enter" where it should have been translated as "Say 'friend' and enter." It helps that Elvish doesn't use much punctuation, including quotation marks. In the books, Gandalf eventually realizes his error, comparing it to a riddle that is simple when you know the answer. In the film, it's Frodo who figures out what the door actually means, calling it a riddle flat-out.
    • Of course, it seems like all the riddle is testing is your ability to read Elvish, since the riddle could also be solved by simply reading the text aloud without translation.
  • The Twilight Saga series by Stephenie Meyer contains a copious amount of errors: Run-on sentences, poor punctuation and comma abuse, lack of capitalization, and fragments but a few examples.
  • Harry Harrison does comma splices, these are annoying. Supposedly, they're deliberate. He writes the book, then later goes through removing extra words and pauses in actiony parts in order to make it sound fast. Periods take longer than commas. Ironically, the incorrect punctuation is just going to slow most people down. The correct way to punctuate those sentences would be with a semicolon.
  • Discworld
    • In Maskerade, a character's growing madness is shown by his insistence on using multiple exclamation points. It's essentially writing out an Evil Laugh.
    • Also in Reaper Man: "Five exclamation marks, the sure sign of an insane mind."
    • Then there's Terry Pratchett's exten'sion (in Going Po'stal) of the ca'se of the greengrocer's apo'strophe, where a character who happen's to be a greengrocer ha's dialogue with 'superfluou's apo'strophe's next to each S. It i's mos't amu'sing.
    • And the origin of this trope's name: Captain Carrot, who like all good dwarfs writes home to the old mine on a regular basis — he also treats punctuation rather like a game of pin the tail on the donkey. And when swearing in new recruits to the Watch, he dictates the oath precisely down to the punctuation, leading to phrases such as "I swear by open bracket insert recruit's deity of choice here close bracket" (the less bright recruits then follow suit).
    • There Is Also The Text Gag Of Golems Talking Like So, Which Is The Visual Effect For Each Word Thudding Into Place Like A Stone Block.
  • James Joyce' Ulysses has a final chapter with only two full stops. Also, Joyce refused to capitalize religious words (jew, christian, jesuit) and hated quotation marks, instead using a dash to indicate a line of dialogue.
  • "Certain" Dragonlance writers seem to be deathly afraid of conjunctions and skip right to the comma.
  • Lampooning this is how Lynne Truss made her name.
  • Justified in Flowers for Algernon, in which the narrator's grammar starts off terribly, then improves and then declines in tandem with fluctuations in his intellect. Charlie's two entries after Alice teaches him punctuation are overflowing with it. The next one contains a breakthrough as he's finally using punctuation properly. "Today, I learned, the comma, this a comma (,) a period, with a tail, Miss Kinnian, says its important, because, it makes writing, better, she said, somebody, could lose, a lot of money, if a comma, isnt, in the, right place, I dont have, any money, and I dont see, how a comma, keeps you, from losing it,". In the next entry, he's passed beyond the comma and sticks a different punctuation mark after almost every word he writes.
  • There's a particularly disconcerting example of run-on sentences in the final book in A Series of Unfortunate Events, being well over two hundred words about the metaphor "in the dark", ballerinas, digging and a locked cabinet.
  • The Voynich Manuscript has no discernible forms of punctuation; there are only spaces. This is a feature of many medieval texts, since punctuation really was optional up until the 18th century. On the other hand, it might also mean that the Voynich script is really just that much gobbledygook, as its authenticity is still disputed.
  • In Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and other works of Lewis Carroll, "ca'n't", "sha'n't" and "wo'n't" have two apostrophes. He insisted that "the popular usage is wrong." This is probably a joke about how a word like "shan't" abbreviates both the LL and the O in "shall not," so he's humorously asserting that his strange-looking abbreviations are more correct.
  • Similarly H. P. Lovecraft would use archaic spellings and terms intentionally to give a time-spanning feel to his stories. He would also use diacritic marks such as in diäphenous or preëminent (which we still see today, though rarely, in words like naïve). Diacritics like this are used to indicate that the two vowels are pronounced as separate syllables instead of a single diphthong (diaeresis). These days the only people who use them are those who believe grammar is deadly Serious Business (e.g. The New Yorker's style sheet).
  • Timothy Dexter's epoch-making work, A Pickle for the Knowing Ones was originally published with no punctuation whatsoever. Some readers complained that this made the book hard to read. Dexter solved the problem by adding an extra page full of commas, full stops and semi-colons and inviting his readers to "peper and solt" the book to their own tastes.
  • Robert A. Heinlein used a two-period ellipsis .. in Time Enough for Love. I've never .. quite .. figured out why (remember this is the writer who had his character saying "An U.F.O.", and who figured that if "handkerchief" had a silent D in it, then the short form should be "handky").
    • (In total pedantic fairness, would "a Unidentified Flying Object" be correct? This gets into the question of whether an acronym should be conjugated as itself or as the extended phrase, a debate which has yet to be settled.)
  • Götz and Meyer by David Albahari uses no paragraph breaks, apparently to indicate the narrator's mental breakdown.
  • Toyed with in Vinge's novel Rainbows End, which may or may not be missing an apostrophe depending on your political views.
  • The Israeli writer Hanny Nachmias always places her periods after the quotation marks, or, to be exact, after ALL the quotation marks. Even if there already is a question or exclamation mark inside the quote. She also abuses colons and dashes left and right. The bad grammar and slang are at least partially justified because the book is written from the point of view of a dumb teenage blonde.
  • The Shelters of Stone, the fifth book in Jean M. Auel's Earth's Children series, is filled with comma splices.
  • James Jones, best known for his war trilogy (From Here to Eternity, The Thin Red Line, Whistle) also wrote Some Came Running, a thinly veiled semi-autobiographical novel about his backwater hometown of Robinson, Illinois. Whereas the war books feature a terse, grammatically correct style (rather like most military communication), in Running he used intentional misspellings and punctuation errors, to underscore the rural nature of his subject.
  • In The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Charlie, when learning how to punctuate, scatters punctuation all over that day's letter. The next day he apologizes.
  • John Norman, he of the Gor series of novels, is quite content to overuse the comma; nay, even more, the semicolon; rather than using periods to separate his thoughts he will use the semicolon; it is annoying; you start to count the number of semicolons in a paragraph; often his page long paragraphs will be only one or two sentences long; he will use semicolons; this is especially true of his descriptive paragraphs.
  • From a literary criticism by John Fletcher of The Stranger:
    "and at best a legitimate action, on Meursault's part, in self-defence, rather than, as the prosecution allege at Meursault's trial, murder in the first degree."
  • In Paper Towns, Margo capitalizes random letters in a shopping list because "the rules of capitalization are so unfair to the words in the middle". It becomes a plot point later as Q identifies her as the writer of an anonymous post because of the random capitalization.
  • Used intentionally in The Dog Stars. Higs's narration uses idiosyncratic punctuation, often putting periods mid-sentence to give the words a halting, staccato rhythm. Other times it uses comma splicing or forgoes punctuation completely to make sentences run together. Higs is both a poet and cracking up from loneliness After the End, so the style conveys his lyrical spirit and deteriorating mental state.
  • Stephen Donaldson can be pretty inconsistent when it comes to italization, especially when it comes to the names of various peoples and creatures. In The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, you'll have Haruchai and Elohim next to Ramen, Ranyhyn and Insequent.
  • Sandra Cisneros didn't use any quotation marks in The House on Mango Street.
  • The Hunger Games: There's a joke that Catching Fire and Mockingjay are written almost entirely in sentence fragments. Of course, this is a poorly-educated, emotionally jaded teenage girl narrating.
  • Cormac McCarthy's famous Signature Style includes an idiosyncratic relationship with grammar and punctuation. He uses punctuation sparsely and often strings together very long sentences using conjunctions. He also does not use quotation marks to indicate dialogue and has openly expressed a distaste for them.
  • John Oliver pointed out that Bill Cosby's book, Come On People, could have really benefited from a comma. As it is, it should have been an early clue that something's up with the guy.

    Liveaction T V 
  • MTV's short-lived reality show The 70's House put the apostrophe in the wrong place; the correct usage would have been The '70s House.
  • Implied (because we didn't see it written, only heard it pronounced) in a The Benny Hill Show skit by an actress who persisted in reading lines such as "What's that in the road ahead?" as "What's that in the road, a head?" or "What is this thing called love?" as "What is this thing called, Love?"
  • On The Electric Company there was a courtroom skit where a man was being prosecuted for trespassing on private property and fishing in a pond that had a "No Fishing" sign. The owner of the property shows the court the sign, which says "Private Property No Fishing Allowed." The defendant said that because there was no punctuation on the sign, he interpreted it to read "Private Property? No, Fishing Allowed."
  • The title character's father in Moone Boy is a sign-maker. In one episode, he argues briefly with a customer who insists on a sign for "BED'S" (though acknowledging that he does have a spare apostrophe lying around).
  • In an episode of NCIS, Abby and McGee discuss a problem with a lawyer's website header that makes her name ambiguous. One has to wonder how a lawyer as good as the one in the episode could pay such poor attention to such a basic detail.
    Abby: What kind of name is Mallison?
    McGee: It's M. Allison Hart. I think they're missing some punctuation.
  • Veep: During the Nevada recount in the fifth season, officials review a ballot with no vote but has "Fuck Selina Meyer" written over it. Selina's team is able to have the ballot counted for them by claiming the voter's intent was to say, "Fuck, Selina Meyer!"
  • The Wire: heroin junkie Bubbles makes a sign on his mobile depot reading "Bubble's Depo". There's also a Running Gag of legal professionals griping about the terrible written grammar of police officers.
  • One episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend involves a night club called either Spiders or Spider's - they're apparently not consistent with punctuation on their ads, leading Rebecca to wonder if it's supposed to be a club owned by a spider or a club infested with spiders. Eventually we see the sign in front of the club and it reads Spider's.
  • Subverted with the title of Childrens Hospital - the titular hospital is a children's hospital named after its founder, Arthur Childrens.

  • Done intentionally by Mötley Crüe. Because umlauts/diaereses are the möst metäl type of pünctüätiön.
    • Parodied in the name of fictional band, Spın̈al Tap, where the diaeresis appears over the n; a construct appearing in only a handful of very obscure languages. Note also the dotless ı, normally found only in Turkish. The way the band's name is written, it should be pronounced something like "spuengal tap".
  • Soraya, a Spanish pop singer, released an (extremely successful in Spain) album called Ochenta's (an album of Eighties covers. Convenient since Ochentas means Eighties). The greengrocer's apostrophe is especially worrisome when you realise that standard Spanish has no apostrophes. (In "Spanglish," then, the title implies that the album contains only songs from the year 1980 — which, ironically, many pop-culture historians tend to lump in with The '70s.)
    • Hear'Say, a thankfully short-lived British manufactured pop group, used the apostrophe decoratively by carelessly shoving it into the middle of an existing word (that had no pronunciation ambiguities to clarify) to form their band's name. Don't people go to Hell for such flagrant punctuation abuse?
  • The back covers of R.E.M.'s Fables of the Reconstruction and The Stone Roses' Turns Into Stone had no apostrophes. In the former case the songs were actually called "Feeling Gravitys Pull" and all that, but the latter's fans were confused by tracks like "Fool's Gold" or "Something's Burning" lacking apostrophes.
    • See? Is it "Fool's Gold" or "Fools' Gold"? Either of which could have multiple, different meanings.
    • There's also R.E.M.'s Lifes Rich Pageant.
  • The latest interview from Steve Perry, formerly of Journey. Dear GODS, cruelty to the common ellipse, lack of any punctuation, and the hideous color scheme make this one un-readable interview.
  • Dolly Parton has a song called "Everything's Beautiful (in It's Own Way)".
  • And the Manic Street Preachers have "Ifwhiteamericatoldthetruthforonedayit'sworldwouldfallapart". Sic.
  • Taylor Swift has a habit of hiding Secret messages within the Pages of her liner notEs. every set of song lyrics lAcKs capitalizatioN save for a set of letters that spell out a phrase relating to the sOng somehoW.
  • The French musical group NeBeLNeST.
  • "Walkin' Away" by Diamond Rio has the obvious error in the line "These occasional moments of weakness only makes our love more strong."
  • Surf rock group The Chantays were credited as "Chantay's" on their 1963 "Pipeline" single. Even though all their other releases used the correct "Chantays", the error still showed up on reissues of that single well into the 1980s.

    New: Media 
  • When simple apostrophes or quote marks are replaced by an unreadable character sequence, due to encoding problems. There are a million different versions of this, and it's particularly bad on wikis due to the large number of different pieces of software (everyone's browser).
    • To wit, an earlier version of this very entry said "probably because of a ?½¶~feature?½¶~ of the other troper?¤©æ#8482;s browser.", and it was later mangled twice (once to replace all the symbols with �, the next to replace each of those with the sequence �).
    • The Hacker Jargon File, for another example, has a default encoding which causes punctuation signs and non-breaking spaces to become a � sign (for those of you who can't see it, that's the Unicode "REPLACEMENT CHARACTER" and looks like a question mark inside a black diamond).
  • One of the crackpots who is responsible for dozens of hoaxes when it comes to Lost spoilers is named ThEmIsFiTiShErE. What's worse is that, in his posts, he puts certain, random, often unimportant words in all-caps, making the reader just want to stab him in the face after a while. He also can't spell for crap.
    "It has BEEN a while SINCE my last post AS ABC cut all POWER to my house to STOP me losigating!! BUT now I have PURCHASED 27 Hamsters THAT all run around in a GIANT ball to POWSER my COmputer!!"
  • Some older Cracked articles are missing the "s" after possessive apostrophes. This is due to a technical glitch rather than poor writing, but it still makes some of the site' articles hard to read.
  • John Watson's blog and Sherlock's website receive comments by a capitalisation rebel:
    theimprobableone: capital letters are just one of society's conventions that I choose to ignore. you've just been programmed to be one of society. you're a sheep.
  • Once on the GameFAQs television message board, someone made a topic asking "are there only fools and horses on american tv?". There was a lot of confusion and bafflement that someone would believe this before it was finally pointed out that Only Fools and Horses is the name of a television show.
  • Some people on the internet tend to remove comments to their work with horrible grammar thus making the web a better place.

    Print, Media 
  • The Women's Weekly magazines at checkout lines are apparently compelled by law to end every internal headline, front-page teaser, caption, and generally any sentence or clause outside of an article with either a question mark or an exclamation point. Feeling fat? Lose 200 pounds with this Ancient Chinese secret! While you stuff your obese offspring with these hideously ugly confections of pure sugar! Made from ingredients found in your local discount rack! Depressed? Buy a new purse! Like the one worn by this famous actress! Emphasis of everything actually equals emphasis of nothing? That's not what Oprah says!
    • Private Eye columnist Glenda Slagg is a parody of this (amongst other things). All of her sentences end with at least one exclamation or question mark and by the end of an article she is using several of each mixed together.
  • The children's book publisher Troll does the same thing in the newsletter that says what new books it's publishing. This is typically coupled with a rather hammy style of blurb that's apparently intended to make the reader think all their books are pulse-pounders, but more often comes off as Narm.
  • American newspaper headlines frequently use commas to replace the word 'and', for example "Obama, Biden visit memorial, deliver speeches". British newspapers do not do this and the so the majority of British people would tend to find such a headline difficult to decipher until they figure out the convention.

  • Radio Active featured various parodies of radio dramas in which the actors completely misread lines because of punctuation errors in the scripts. Perhaps one of the most memorable examples occurred in a detective drama:
    So what? Do we have to go on? (Beat) So, what do we have to go on?
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy uses an in-universe example. The Guide mistakenly, well chooses, to use the more aesthetically pleasing "Ravenous Bugblatter beasts often make a good meal for visiting tourists" in place of the grammatically correct "Ravenous Bugblatter beasts often make a good meal of visiting tourists".
  • Occasionally used by the chairman on I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue to appear to be uncharacteristically positive about the games, for instance.
    Humph: That went off well. Let's try another. [Beat] I'm sorry, I misread that. That went off. Well, let's try another.

  • MrDrake's Darwin's Soldiers stories can sound like this. An example (one sentence!):
    Marcus: They call it Topri, strange name, I know, however, it’s not like they actually seem to care for that, it is, after all, off the highway, you know, out of the way, away from civilization, after all, looking into the town’s history, they don’t tend to get too many visitors to the town, then again, they don’t have much, a small little national park of some sort, a town hall, movie theatre, believe it or not, gas station, along with the local bar, other than that, just houses doted around the town as you can see here."

  • For a while at least, George Bernard Shaw abandoned the use of apostrophes in most contractions — even writing "he'll" without the apostrophe — though he dropped that practice later:
    I have written aint, dont, havnt, shant, shouldnt, and wont for twenty years with perfect impunity, using the apostrophe only where its omission would suggest another word: for example, hell for he'll. There is not the faintest reason for persisting in the ugly and silly trick of peppering pages with these uncouth bacilli.
    — Letter to The Author, April 1902
  • The Dutch comedian Herman Finkers plays with this in his linguistic fairytale Het Spreukjesbos
    Hansel said "Gretel, shall I wear my pretty dress today?"
    "Hansel," said Gretel, "shall I wear my pretty dress today?"
    • Acutally, Herman Finkers is a master of wordplay. The full joke requires some explanation. In the Netherlands, Hansel and Gretel are called Hans en Grietje. After the bit described above Hans responds with: Don't be so weird, Grietje Titulaer. Now, this might not be weird, but around the time this show ran, there was a well-known Dutch public figure going by the name Chriet Titulaer. Chriet is a male name. To top it off: Chriet and Griet are pronounched exactly the same. He even mentions that Hans and Grietje are the Titulaer brothers. And this is just the very start of the "Spreukjesbos" segment.

    video Games 
  • Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness. While punctuation errors are the least of its problems, whoever was in charge of the game's font apparently considered certain punctuation marks such as apostrophes far too exotic, and therefore they were replaced with a square symbol.
  • There are not one, but two greengrocers' apostrophes in the dialogue near the end of the otherwise well-written Ōkami.
  • The Playstation game Xenogears was quite "fond" of using "quotes" placed around various "words."
  • The subtitles of Limbo of the Lost are wrong. All of them.
  • Shodan from System Shock speaks in alternating caps.
  • The subtitles during the final cinematic of StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty suffer from a severe lack of commas.
  • The ZX Spectrum game Merlock the Mede: The Ashes of Alucard is inclined to use comma splices, or omit punctuation altogether.
    You are in the cellar of the rectory it is dark and you feel a bit cold you can here movement but cannot see anything moving.
    • While probably just carelessness, it's not beyond the realms of possibility that there literally wasn't room in the memory to fit commas. This is the ZX Spectrum we're talking about here, a machine with just forty-eight kilobytes of RAM; as soon as you're writing anything more complicated than a Hello World program you need to start saving space somewhere.
  • Guitar Hero: Smash Hits would be guilty of using quotation marks for emphasis, if they had actually used quotation marks rather than the offending apostrophes.
  • One of the games on Codemasters' Quattro Sports is called Baseball Pro's.
  • In the Battletoads games, the combat amphibians of the title are called "'Toads" for short, since just calling them "toads" wouldn't be proper enough.
  • The subtitling for the Clairconctlar in the game Star Control 3 uses a period between just about every word to represent their slow speech with long time between words.
  • Shantae makes the "its/it's" blunder a few times. It wouldn't be too noticeable or jarring if it didn't crop up in the message that appears every time you find a baby Warp Squid.
  • The original Banjo-Kazooie is lousy with comma splices. Fortunately, they're all but completely gone from the sequel.
  • In Undertale, the word-search Sans tries to use to stump the player is headlined with "Hey Kid's!" Since the rest of the game uses correct punctuation, it's definitely intentional.
  • The English translation of Suikoden II is absolutely notorious for punctuation abuse. Multiple question marks or exclamation points, ellipses that stretch out into infinity, oddly-placed commas - and that's just the tip of the iceberg. Certain characters - like Nanami and Luca, who are both prone to very strong displays of emotion - get hit especially bad with it in their dialogue.
  • The Mass Effect series is notable for avoiding the pitfalls of miscapitalization in relation to species names. Unlike most sci-fi, all the races in the game are written with lower-case letters (e.g. asari, turian, krogan).
  • Barkley, Shut Up and Jam: Gaiden uses Stylistic Suck for comedic value by deliberately trying to pass itself off as a poorly translated Japanese game. Part of this "bad translation" involves pluralizing "gun" as "gun's". This even extends to the name of the development studio, Tales of Game's.
  • The Legend of Zeldaamong other issues — seems to be just way too in love with quotation marks and seems to hate commas for the intro text (the capitalization is more understandable as they may not have had a lowercase character set):
  • Phantom Doctrine: The perk Example-made (killing an enemy reduces the stats of nearby enemies) might be better punctuated as Example: made.
  • Exist Archive: Ellipses are usually written like… this (space after) or like … this (space before and after). This game writes them like…this (no space before or after). And the dialogue has…a lot of ellipses.
  • The dialogue in the original Ecco the Dolphin and its sequel Tides of Time is rather lacking in punctuation. It took until Defender of the Future, a reboot, to finally have correctly punctuated dialogue. Given that the level transition screens use punctuation correctly, the under-punctuation may be for conveying a xenofiction-like feel. The characters in these games are non-humanoid, after all.
    • Commas are very rare in both of those games, albeit commas are more common in Tides of Time than in the original.
    • Periods are virtually non-existent in the first game's dialogue. Tides of Time does use periods in dialogue, but they are extremely rare.

    Weban Imation 

  • Bob the Angry Flower rants against misuse of apostrophes in this comic.
  • Eugene Greenhilt from The Order of the Stick gives the prophecy, "When the goat turns red strikes true.'' This, Roy interprets it as having a comma after "red" and thinks it means that when the chimera (which has a goat head) getting blood on it, Belkar will strike true and kill it. In reality the comma is after "turns" and means that when Nale (who has a goatee) turns on them Haley (who has red hair) would be able to roll a 20 and hit Nale.
  • Penny Arcade sometimes has an animated period reading posts from gaming forums and chiding the writers for their lack of capitalization and other grammatical errors.
  • Chopping Block: Butch does not appreciate incorrect punctuation (here, the "greengrocers' apostrophe").
  • Freefall uses extra punctuation in the middle of sentences to indicate pauses in the speech of a robot running at a lower clock speed than usual.
  • Most of the speaking cast in Homestuck commit minor grammatical sins when typing to each other via IM. The only one of the four main characters who uses completely standard grammar is Rose, though her text has... other issues. The other three kids neglect capitalization (and, in Dave's case, punctuation) and the trolls each have their own typing quirks, from Gamzee's aLtErNaTiNg cApS to Terezi's C4PSLOCK3D 413 133T.
  • Rock Paper Cynic has one of the most awesome examples ever.
  • In the Skin Horse storyline "Mixed-Up Files", when Sweetheart is undercover as a mad scientist captured by the Institute, they give her a Demotivational Poster that says "Sanity — It's not a journey, its a destination". When she says the missing apostrophe bothers her, it's replaced with one that says "Sanity — Its not a journey, it's a destination", and later "Sanity — Its not a journey, its a destination". This is entirely deliberate, because the Institute are monsters.

    w EB o RIGINAL 
  • Defection: Given this Web Serial Novel's start as something to work on in-between chapters of the author's main work, the first few chapters are utterly horrid to the grammar conscious mind.
  • "Cruelty to the Uncommon Comma" is a charge in the Protectors of the Plot Continuum, especially the Department of Technical Errors (which the Uncommon Comma leads).
  • This is responsible for many, many Cake Wrecks, be it eye-searingly awful misspellings or horrible punctuation.
  • The internet invokes the trope when users resort to Appeal to Ridicule, usually coming in some flavor of chatspeak or alternating caps. (ex. "jUsT BecAuSe mY GraMmAr iS bAd dOeSn't MeAn My oPinIOn iS")

  • Frisky Dingo had Killface become enraged when his new postcards proclaiming his goal of subjugating humanity (he had a tight budget) came in, and read "Welcome To You're 'Doom!'"
    Killface: Why does it say Welcome To You Are "Doom!"? What does that even mean, and why, for God's sakes is Doom in quotes?! Is- is it some sort of ironic Doom? Is the wink implied?! No, it isn't - so please tell me how and why I'm now a laughingstock!
    Valerie: Uh, because you signed off on the proofs?
  • In The Amazing World of Gumball episode "The Shippening", one of the stories Gumball writes in the Reality Warping notebook contains these.
    Gumball: (As Tina) Don't be so sad, what we had was beautiful. Let's eat Bobert.
    Darwin: Wait, shouldn't there be a comma before "Bobert"?
    Gumball: Pff, what difference does that make?
    (Cut to Jamie and Tina eating Bobert)
  • In The Road Runner cartoon "Lickety Splat," the coyote is employing a boomerang where on the package it reads "Return's to Sender."

  • The minefield of grammatical rules, exceptions and linguistic gray areas is the main reason why most major publications adopt or create an official style guide for their writers.
  • This applies to questions of usage where there are valid arguments either way. For instance, there's a Broken Base among grammarians as to whether you should use a serial comma ("A, B, and C") or not ("A, B and C"). The most expedient answer is just to go with your publisher's style guide. This is also known as the Oxford Comma argument and is discussed in the Underpunctuation section above.
  • This is far, far, far too common in Dutch, where the apostrophe denotes a short grapheme corresponding to a long vowel in plurals, mostly in originally foreign words. (Example: "Auto" means "car". "Auto's" means "cars", because "Autos" would be pronounced wrong, and "Autoos" goes against all grammar rules.) The apostrophe stands for a sound that's included in speech, but left out in written language. It... tends to go wrong.
    • The same thing has been done to substitute for graves, acutes, and macrons. Once again, this convention tends to go wrong. Especially when it's impossible to tell if a word is supposed to be possessive, contracted, or have an accent on a vowel....
    • Over-punctuation can occur in Dutch as well: very few people are aware that the apostrophe between a word and an S, like in English, can be omitted entirely in Dutch. In fact, not even the Microsoft Word grammar control knows about it, which is probably one of the reasons it's so little known: the Dutch tend to rely on the Word grammar and spelling control completely because of how difficult the Dutch language is.
    • Use of the apostrophe after the vowel in place of an acute or grave accent is widespread in Italian, even on signs in Italy itself. Even worse is that the word processors used to write such mistakes will often auto-correct the apostrophe to an accent, but will leave it hanging over empty space instead of moving it above the vowel.
  • This can also happen when people write English according to the grammatical rules of their native language. German-speakers writing English tend to insert commas in places, that do not require a comma in English but would require a comma in German.
    • Germanophones writing in English also often have Trouble not putting Capitalization on every Noun, like they are used to in their Birth Language. Anglophones tend to overcapitalize when writing in French, too (but then, the full capitalization rules are tricky even for French natives).
    • Likewise, the punctuation rules for the three languages are different. A colon, question mark or semi-colon is preceded by a space "example : this", preferably a non-breaking one. German and French use commas less frequently than English. Decimals are marked with a comma, which is used in English as a thousand separator: "1,234" is just less than one and a quarter in French and just less than a thousand and a quarter in English. Dialogue in French texts is marked with «», then a dash for separating lines of dialogue. German uses „“ or »« (yes, the inverse of the French) and is more prone to using free indirect speech than English. Trilinguals despair.
      • Quebecois Francophones follow English rules for commas and decimals within numbers. So do people used to computer programming, regardless of native language. Conversely, South African Anglophones use the German/French/Dutch ones.
    • Spanish (or at least the Mexican dialect thereof) uses dashes to indicate the beginning and end of dialogue (-like this -for example). International Spanish rules set the use of a long dash (—) for starting a dialogue, with additional long dashes to add an explanation:
      —It would be like this —said this troper—, exactly like this.
  • The Apple website, much like the previous entry on this very page, has a tendency to mistake the word too (an adverb) as something that constantly calls for a comma preceding it. While it is possible to precede a 'too' with a comma, it is the editorial phrase of which they form a part that calls for the comma, not the word too... ever.
    • eg. "Tias, too drunk to walk, decided to fly home." Here the too forms part of a tangent in the sentence, and hence the comma is appropriate.
    • eg. "Tias, contrary to popular belief, can fly, too." Here the too is an integral part of the grammar of the sentence: it tells the reader something about how the ability to fly, and hence it should not be separated from the verb by its own comma.
    • as contrasted with: "Tias was too drunk to walk and flew home." Here the too modifies an adjective and does not require a comma to separate the clause of which it is a part.
    • The WeatherBug Site Tries To Add Some Sanity By Changing The Entire Message To Title-Case... But Keeps The Ellipses... And Humorously... Always Renders The Word "IN" IN All Caps... Assuming It To Be Short For "Indiana".
  • When Gertrude, wife of King Andrew of Hungary took control of the kingdom in the king's absence, a group of conspirators decided to take down the queen and asked the clergy for support. The archbishop, not wanting to choose sides, answered with a letter but deliberately left out all the commas, leaving room for two possible but entirely contradicting interpretations:
    You should not be afraid to murder the queen. It will be a good thing. If everybody agrees to it, I do not object.
    You should not murder the queen. To be afraid will be a good thing. If everybody agrees to it, I do not: I object.
    • The same joke has been made with the city of Ulm's catchphrase: "Ulm hat was alle suchen!" The is supposed to be one comma in the sentence, but where? "Ulm hat, was alle suchen!" means 'Ulm has something for everyone' and "Ulm hat was, alle suchen!" means 'Ulm has something, everyone's looking [for it].'
  • Fox News' Sean Hannity came under fire in the fall of 2016 for openly cheerleading GOP nominee Donald Trump, and engaged his naysayers on Twitter. In response to one user who accused him of being a lapdog, Hannity tweeted "God is my only master jackass. "The Truth Shall Set You Free"." His forgetting of a comma between "master" and "jackass" made it look like blasphemy and not an insult directed at a critic.
  • One of the most common punctuation errors in Polish texts is putting an apostrophe, or multiple apostrophes, in every conjugated foreign name. Simplifying things a bit, one should do so only when the name ends with 'y' or a muted vowel. Omitting apostrophes is actually less haphazard (that's how names were written in the early 20th century) than spamming them everywhere.
  • There exist within numerous Western countries, and many others, groups which call themselves "sovereign citizens" or something similar. Regardless of one's opinion of their legal status, oftentimes their legal documentation (usually submitted pro se) is deliberately written to be not only obtuse, but also contradictory, containing enough grammatical errors to make even Captain Carrot wince. They are also famous for legal theories that rely entirely on grammar rules they made up; for instance, that John Doe and JOHN DOE (as it appears in government documents) are legally distinct entities and only the latter has to pay taxes.
  • Subverted by, of all organizations, the British Army. When the regiment now known as "21 Special Air Service Regiment (Artists) (Reserve)" was established, it was known as "The Artist's Rifles" after its founder, who had fancied himself a painter in his youth. However, since no two Army clerks could agree on where the apostrophe went, the Army eventually decided to leave it out altogether.
  • According to one Tumblr post, in one AOL group chat, everyone was making Homer Simpson faces (like so: (8^(|)) and a girl named Crystal forgot to add the nose, resulting in one group chat member saying "You forgot the nose crystal". Because that user forgot to put a comma between "nose" and "Crystal", they were booted from the chat for saying "nose crystal", which led AOL to believe they were selling drugs to minors.

Nope;no Grammer Nazi's any wherein site....


Video Example(s):


Let's Eat Bobert

Darwin points out that Gumball's story about Jamie, Tina, and Bobert has a line, ''Let's eat Bobert'', that needs a comma. Gumball simply shrugs and says ''What difference does that make?'' Cut to Jamie and Tina chomping down on Bobert's metal pieces.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (17 votes)

Example of:

Main / WantonCrueltyToTheCommonComma

Media sources: