Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Columns

March 28, 2013

Lee Ward: Save a life; punctuate correctly: 3/31/13

ASHLAND — I’m not ashamed to say I love punctuation. I enjoy writing a few lines that require carefully placed commas. The challenge of making a name plural possessive excites me. The dilemma of whether to use commas or dashes stimulates me intellectually.

One of the copy editors at The Independent calls me the Punctuation Queen and I was caught recently giving a stringer a lesson on punctuation I imagine made me sound like the biggest nerd in town.

Again, I’m not ashamed.

In fact, I’d be ashamed not to have reverence for the tools of my trade. Plus, I believe proper grammar is a sign of good breeding.

It’s rare to find someone who shares my love of punctuation, but I think I have.

I enjoyed the movie “Jack Reacher,” so when I heard there is a series of Jack Reacher novels by Lee Child, I looked them up.

“Killing Floor” is the novel in which Jack Reacher first appears, so I started reading it.

The book has the elements I like: crime, suspense, a strapping hunk who knows no fear.

At first, I wasn’t that into the story. I knew this when I realized it had taken me a good month to plow through three-quarters of the book, but I have fallen madly in love with Reacher, or Child, I’m not sure which, and it’s all because of punctuation.

Reacher, a tall, good-looking drifter and former military policeman, became tangled in a murder investigation he began helping to solve. He thought he was on track to find evidence against one of the perps, but instead of finding a box full of evidence in the perp’s garage, he found nothing.

While reviewing his paperwork, Reacher realized he’d read the perp’s name wrong. It had ended in “s apostrophe,” not “apostrophe s.” It wasn’t the perp’s garage he should have searched, but the garage of the perp’s parents.

So you see, punctuation doubters, it does matter where you put an apostrophe or a comma. It does change the meaning of what you’re writing. It does show good breeding. (All right, I’m not positive about that one.) Plus, if I think putting punctuation in the right place might help lead a handsome man to my garage, I’m going to put punctuation in the right place.

LEE WARD can be reached at  (606) 326-2661.

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