Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Do you have gas?

(From the ether-nol, 2008)

(Clip art comes into its own in Blogger!)

No...I'm not asking you a rude question - merely raising the issue of how commas can clear up ambiguity. This is really a response to Brady's rather lovely comma post below.

Lynne Truss, in her book Eats, Shoots and Leaves, gives some examples of how comma omissions (or additions) can make a big difference to the sense of a sentence. Here are a couple of examples:

Eat here, and get gas

Eat here and get gas

Slow, children crossing

Slow children crossing

These sentences (or clauses) raise some questions for us, don't they?

Can we purchase gas and get some food as well? Or does this refer to a grubby restaurant which serves lots of cabbage?

Should you reduce your speed because there are likely to be lots of children crossing (perhaps near a school) or are the kids just dragging their feet?

A comma can make a world of difference!

Perhaps you can think of some examples where the omission of a comma (or addition) can lead to altered meaning in a sentence?

Note: Australian's never use the term 'gas' when they refer to fuel. We always say 'petrol' (unless it's in reference to those cars which run on LPG Gas). Oh, and Aussies have 'wind' not 'gas' after eating baked beans.


Anonymous said...

Many thanks to Dr Judy Ford for pointing us to Lynne's book!

Anonymous said...

"Australian's never use the term 'gas' when they refer to fuel."

We've noticed the above foray, so okay let's parley.


Bakhirun said...

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