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Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation (2003)

by Lynne Truss

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
13,834306293 (3.81)277
We all know the basics of punctuation. Or do we? A look at most neighborhood signage tells a different story. Through sloppy usage and low standards on the internet, in email, and now text messages, we have made proper punctuation an endangered species. In Eats, Shoots & Leaves, former editor Lynne Truss dares to say, in her delightfully urbane, witty, and very English way, that it is time to look at our commas and semicolons and see them as the wonderful and necessary things they are. This is a book for people who love punctuation and get upset when it is mishandled. From the invention of the question mark in the time of Charlemagne to George Orwell shunning the semicolon, this lively history makes a powerful case for the preservation of a system of printing conventions that is much too subtle to be mucked about with.… (more)
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» See also 277 mentions

English (301)  Italian (2)  Dutch (1)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (305)
Showing 1-5 of 301 (next | show all)
I thought the idea of a virus that prevents email with improper grammar from being sent was fantastic. The virus ought to be endorsed by all colleges, corporations, and curmudgeons; at least it ought to be stamped with the Trusted Application status once it has been hatched and flown. Of course, that might mean we'll have a great internet dark age when almost everyone will have gone silent. Alas. It's a fun book, I recommend it to everyone. ( )
  bradleyhorner | Jun 1, 2020 |
How not to write a book on punctuation. ( )
  JonFarley | Mar 25, 2020 |
SUPER FUNNY, and also, I learnt stuff like how the commas are super important and if you move them around, they might create new biblical interpretations: For example

“verily, I say unto thee, This day thou shalt be with me in Paradise.”
vs
“Verily I say unto thee this day, Thou shalt be with me in Paradise.” (P74, Truss)

The former the comma after “thee” is the Protestant interpretation of the Bible which skips over the concept of Purgatory, while the second with the comma after “they” means to Catholics that Paradise is promised sometime later, after Purgatory. The placement of the comma changes the meaning of the religious text. The more you know! ( )
  enlasnubess | Feb 26, 2020 |
Others care, too. ( )
  LindaLeeJacobs | Feb 15, 2020 |
This book stresses the importances of using commas, and where you put your commas. I rate this book 5 stars becuase not only is it educational, but it is a bit humorous as well. This book provided many examples of the same sentence but with different meanings due to the placement of the comma. This book can be a great asset in an english classroom becuase using commas is something that students will do for the rest of their lives when writting setences. Grammar is also used in every other subject, which is why this book can be used in other content areas too. ( )
  Brianna_Henry | Feb 7, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 301 (next | show all)
The first punctuation mistake in “Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation” (Gotham; $17.50), by Lynne Truss, a British writer, appears in the dedication, where a nonrestrictive clause is not preceded by a comma. It is a wild ride downhill from there.
added by SR510 | editThe New Yorker, Louis Menand (Jun 28, 2004)
 
When [Truss] stops straining at lawks-a-mussy chirpiness and analyzes punctuation malpractice, she is often persuasive
 
The passion and fun of her arguments are wonderfully clear. Here is someone with abiding faith in the idea that ''proper punctuation is both the sign and the cause of clear thinking.''
 
Lynne Truss's book is (stay with this sentence, and remember the function of punctuation is to 'tango the reader into the pauses, inflections, continuities and connections that the spoken word would convey') as much an argument for clear thinking as it is a pedantic defence of obsolete conventions of written language.
added by mikeg2 | editThe Guardian, Nigel Williams (Nov 9, 2003)
 

» Add other authors (6 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Truss, Lynneprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Byrnes, PatIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
McCourt, FrankForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nunn, JamesCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Dedication
To the memory of the striking Bolshevik printers of St Petersburg who, in 1905, demanded to be paid the same rate for punctuation marks as for letters, and thereby directly precipitated the first Russian Revolution
First words
Either this will ring bells for you, or it won't.
Quotations
On the page, punctuation performs its grammatical function, but in the mind of the reader it does more than that. It tells the reader how to hum the tune.
But I can't help feeling that our punctuation system, which has served the written word with grace and ingenuity for centuries, must not be allowed to disappear without a fight.
A panda walks into a cafe.

He orders a sandwich, eats it, then draws a gun and fires two shots in the air.
"Why?" asks the confused waiter, as the panda makes towards the exit. The panda produces a badly punctuated wildlife manual and tosses it over his shoulder.
"I'm a panda," he says at the door. "Look it up."
The waiter turns to the relevant entry and, sure enough, finds an explanation.
"Panda. Large black-and-white bear-like mammal, native to China. Eats, shoots and leaves."
Last words
Disambiguation notice
This is not the same work as:

1.  "Eats, Shoots and Leaves: Why, Commas Do Make a Difference!", which is the children's version of the book;

2. the various calendars inspired by this book;

3. "Eats, Shoots and Leaves: Cutting a Dash", which is a recording of a radio show associated with the book.
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Book description
We all know the basics of punctuation. Or do we? A look at most neighborhood signage tells a different story. Through sloppy usage and low standards on the internet, in email, and now text messages, we have made proper punctuation an endangered species. In Eats, Shoots & Leaves, former editor Lynne Truss dares to say, in her delightfully urbane, witty, and very English way, that it is time to look at our commas and semicolons and see them as the wonderful and necessary things they are. This is a book for people who love punctuation and get upset when it is mishandled. From the invention of the question mark in the time of Charlemagne to George Orwell shunning the semicolon, this lively history makes a powerful case for the preservation of a system of printing conventions that is much too subtle to be mucked about with.
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