The rule is: don’t use commas like a stupid person. I mean it.

— Lynne Truss

The most sensitive Lynne Truss quotes that are glad to read

If you still persist in writing, "Good food at it's best", you deserve to be struck by lightning, hacked up on the spot and buried in an unmarked grave.

44

The reason to stand up for punctuation is that without it there is no reliable way of communicating meaning.

32

In the family of punctuation, where the full stop is daddy and the comma is mummy, and the semicolon quietly practises the piano with crossed hands, the exclamation mark is the big attention-deficit brother who gets overexcited and breaks things and laughs too loudly.

22

There are people who embrace the Oxford comma and those who don't, and I'll just say this: never get between these people when drink has been taken.

13

Punctuation marks are the traffic signals of language: they tell us to slow down, notice this, take a detour, and stop.

12

Proper punctuation is both the sign and the cause of clear thinking.

11

The reason it's worth standing up for punctuation is not that it's an arbitrary system of notation known only to an over-sensitive elite who have attacks of the vapours when they see it misapplied. The reason to stand up for punctuation is that without it there is no reliable way of communicating meaning.

6

Texting is a fundamentally sneaky form of communication, which we should despise, but it is such a boon we don't care. We are all sneaks now.

6

Truly good manners are invisible: they ease the way for others, without drawing attention to themselves. It is no accident that the word "punctilious" ("attentive to formality or etiquette") comes from the same original root as punctuation.

6

Texting is a supremely secretive medium of communication - it's like passing a note - and this means we should be very careful what we use it for.

6

I recently heard of someone studying the ellipsis (or three dots) for a PhD.

And, I have to say, I was horrified. The ellipsis is the black hole of the punctuation universe, surely, into which no right-minded person would willingly be sucked, for three years, with no guarantee of a job at the end.

5

As someone who sends texts messages more or less non-stop, I enjoy one particular aspect of texting more than anything else: that it is possible to sit in a crowded railway carriage laboriously spelling out quite long words in full, and using an enormous amount of punctuation, without anyone being aware of how outrageously subversive I am being.

4

About Lynne Truss

Quotes 58 sayings
Profession Writer
Birthday October 16

Do you lend books and DVDs to people? If so, don't you always regret it? All my life I have forced books on to people who have subsequently forgotten all about it. Meanwhile, on my shelves sit many orphaned books loaned to me over the years by trusting, innocent souls - some as long ago as the Seventies.

3

What one discovers in life, I find, is that one's personality defects don't come and go.

3

Brackets come in various shapes, types and names: 1 round brackets (which we call brackets, and the Americans call parentheses) 2 square brackets [which we call square brackets, and the Americans call brackets]

3

Don't pessimism and caution naturally go hand in hand?

1

Punctuation is a courtesy designed to help readers to understand a story without stumbling.

1

It used to be just CIA agents with ear-pieces who walked round with preoccupied, faraway expressions, and consequently regarded all the little people as irrelevant scum. Now, understandably, it's nearly everybody.

1

What I have always liked about Brighton is its impersonality.

Since the 18th century, people have come, used the place and gone home again.

1

No one else understands us 7th sense people.

They regard us as freaks. When we point out illiterate mistakes, we are often aggressively instructed to 'get a life' by people who, interestingly, display no evidence of having lives themselves.

0

Oh, the illusion of choice in the modern world - don't get me started.

But don't you agree that the Internet has softened our brains and made us forget that 'choice' used to mean something different from selecting options from menus?

0

To some people, the fact that I am not married, or don't have children, would be the reason I have written a book on punctuation.

0

Why did the Apostrophe Protection Society not have a militant wing? Could I start one? Where do you get balaclavas?

0

I mean, full stops are quite important, aren't they? Yet by contrast to the versatile apostrophe, they are stolid little chaps, to say the least. In fact one might dare to say that while the full stop is the lumpen male of the punctuation world (do one job at a time; do it well; forget about it instantly), the apostrophe is the frantically multi-tasking female, dotting hither and yon, and succumbing to burn-out from all the thankless effort.

0

Writers and painters alike are in the business of consulting their own imaginations, and stimulating the imaginations of others. Together, and separately, they celebrate the absolute mystery of otherness.

0

The idea of withholding a massive secret is obviously quite exciting to some people. It is also the basis of much classic drama, of course, from Sophocles onwards.

0

In my worst moments, I think the biggest effect of 'Eats, Shoots & Leaves' was to kill the happiness of people who had previously skipped through life, unaware of all the atrocities lurking in the world around them.

0

I do needlepoint from kits. I give them as gifts to people in the form of cushion covers and they are often speechless with horror.

0

Thurber was asked by a correspondent: Why did you have a comma in the sentence, 'After dinner, the men went into the living-room'? And his answer was probably one of the loveliest things ever said about punctuation. This particular comma, Thurber explained, was Ross's way of giving the men time to push back their chairs and stand up.

0

One of the things that all authors of fiction must learn to judge is whether - and in what detail - to describe the face of a character.

0

I am not against marriage. I lived with someone for 11 years. But we weren't in love, and I thought that was quite important.

0

If we looked inside ourselves and remembered how insignificant we are, just for a couple of minutes a day, respect for other people would be an automatic result.

0

Manners are about imagination, ultimately. They are about imagining being the other person.

0

Old radio comedy makes me laugh, as well as 'I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue' and comedians like Paul Merton.

0

The problem is that it has become politically awkward to draw attention to absolutes of bad and good. In place of manners, we now have doctrines of political correctness, against which one offends at one's peril: by means of a considerable circular logic, such offences mark you as reactionary and therefore a bad person. Therefore if you say people are bad, you are bad.

0

What the semicolon's anxious supporters fret about is the tendency of contemporary writers to use a dash instead of a semicolon and thus precipitate the end of the world. Are they being alarmist?

0

I hate to be treated as if I'm invisible.

I get incensed when people talk across me or refuse to catch my eye in a restaurant or shop.

0

Nice clothes fall apart. Nice clocks don't work. Bits fall off the nice cooker. It is hard to accept that pricing is unrelated to quality, but it's plainly true. Nowadays, we pay the price that satisfies our particular personality type; and then we live with the painful consequences.

0

Sticklers never read a book without a pencil at hand, to correct the typographical errors. In short, we are unattractive know-all obsessives who get things out of proportion and are in continual peril of being disowned by our exasperated families.

0

When you by nature subscribe to the view that everyone except yourself is a berk or a wanker, it is hard to bond with anybody in any rational common cause.

0

The advent of the mobile phone was a disaster.

We are forced to listen, open-mouthed, to other people's intimate conversations. Increasingly, we are all in our virtual bubbles when we are out in public, whether we are texting, listening to iPods, reading or just staring dangerously at other people.

0

The main advantage of working at home is that you get to find out what cats really do all day.

0

You should read Wodehouse when you're well and when you're poorly;

when you're travelling, and when you're not;when you're feeling clever, and when you're feeling utterly dim. Wodehouse always lifts your spirits,no matter how high they happen to be already.

0

We have a language that is full of ambiguities;

we have a way of expressing ourselves that is often complex and elusive, poetic and modulated; all our thoughts can be rendered with absolute clarity if we bother to put the right dots and squiggles between the words in the right places. Proper punctuation is both the sign and the cause of clear thinking. If it goes, the degree of intellectual impoverishment we face is unimaginable.

0

We read privately, mentally listening to the author's voice and translating the writer's thoughts. The book remains static and fixed; the reader journeys through it.

0

Evidently an A level in English is a sacred trust, like something out of "The Lord of the Rings". You must go forth with your A level and protect the English language with your bow of elfin gold.

0

To those who care about punctuation, a sentence such as "Thank God its Friday" (without the apostrophe) rouses feelings not only of despair but of violence. The confusion of the possessive "its" (no apostrophe) with the contractive "it's" (with apostrophe) is an unequivocal signal of illiteracy and sets off a Pavlovian "kill" response in the average stickler.

0

The way people behave towards each other is a measure of their value as human beings.

0

I used to help my dad with a stall selling eggs when I was about 12.

People were so hard up they would ask for one egg. But mostly no one came by at all. It was very demoralising.

0
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