Standing in front of class a few weeks ago, teaching the importance of using correction punctuation, I used the examples you’ve seen often. There is a big difference between:
I like cooking my family and pets.
I like cooking, my family, and pets.
One makes me a scary person to know, the other someone who is a homebody at heart. Big difference.
Or my favorite, from Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynn Truss:
Woman without her man is nothing.
is a lot different than
Woman: without her, man is nothing.
As I looked at the participants, I saw how different each person in class presented a personality. These learners were also personality punctuation marks –the excited exclamation mark character who loved everything new, who bounced up with each new idea; the cautious parenthesis character who couched everything with side comments and explanations; the direct, straight-forward speak and stop character. She’s clearly the period person. There was the balanced semi-colon person, who made sure that both sides of her statements were balanced and complete; and the one who ended every sentence by drifting off–yep, an ellipsis.
I had a flash that this “personality type” would make a great quiz. And then I thought, it could be extended to parts of speech too. A “verb” person would be active and a “noun” person would be focused on people, places and things. Conjunction people turn their world in different directions suddenly and preposition people are clearly those who love detail.
I think there is a journaling class in here someplace. Or a good joke.
Meanwhile, what punctuation mark are you?
—Quinn McDonald knows that everything is connected.