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

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

4.1 137
by Lynne Truss

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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


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.

Editorial Reviews

The Barnes & Noble Review
An unexpected bestseller on both sides of the pond, Eats, Shoots & Leaves is British journalist Lynn Truss's entertaining anecdotal history of English punctuation. A former literary editor who must have wielded a formidable blue pencil in her day, Truss is one of a handful of admitted sticklers who actually care about the proper use of commas, apostrophes, semicolons, and dashes. (Yes, even in emails!) Yet she writes so beguilingly, it's easy to forget she has an ax to grind. A publisher's note and an author's preface address the subtle differences between Anglo and American punctuation, but (happily) the book retains its distinctly British accent. Yanks will love the references to chemists, shopkeepers, queues, Brit pop culture, and both houses of Parliament. Anne Markowski
Gail Zoë Garnett
...Eats, Shoot & Leaves is visually vivid, funny, informative (and/or corroborative), and a worthy addition to any logophile's library.... You have rather a lot of delightfully delineated information to gain from reading Eats, Shoots & Leaves, as thousands of Britons have already discovered.
The Globe and Mail (Toronto)
The New York Times
Eats, Shoots & Leaves takes its title from a mispunctuated phrase about a panda. In Britain, where this rib-tickling little book has been a huge success and its panda joke apparently recited in the House of Lords, Ms. Truss has proved to be anything but a lone voice. Despite her assertion that "being burned as a witch is not safely enough off the agenda" for the punctuation-minded stickler, Ms. Truss obviously hit a raw nerve. For those who are tired of seeing signs like "Bobs' Motors" and think an "Eight Items or Less" checkout sign should read "Eight Items or Fewer," boy, is this book for you. — Janet Maslin
Publishers Weekly
Who would have thought a book about punctuation could cause such a sensation? Certainly not its modest if indignant author, who began her surprise hit motivated by "horror" and "despair" at the current state of British usage: ungrammatical signs ("BOB,S PETS"), headlines ("DEAD SONS PHOTOS MAY BE RELEASED") and band names ("Hear'Say") drove journalist and novelist Truss absolutely batty. But this spirited and wittily instructional little volume, which was a U.K. #1 bestseller, is not a grammar book, Truss insists; like a self-help volume, it "gives you permission to love punctuation." Her approach falls between the descriptive and prescriptive schools of grammar study, but is closer, perhaps, to the latter. (A self-professed "stickler," Truss recommends that anyone putting an apostrophe in a possessive "its"-as in "the dog chewed it's bone"-should be struck by lightning and chopped to bits.) Employing a chatty tone that ranges from pleasant rant to gentle lecture to bemused dismay, Truss dissects common errors that grammar mavens have long deplored (often, as she readily points out, in isolation) and makes elegant arguments for increased attention to punctuation correctness: "without it there is no reliable way of communicating meaning." Interspersing her lessons with bits of history (the apostrophe dates from the 16th century; the first semicolon appeared in 1494) and plenty of wit, Truss serves up delightful, unabashedly strict and sometimes snobby little book, with cheery Britishisms ("Lawks-a-mussy!") dotting pages that express a more international righteous indignation. Agent, George Lucas. (On sale Apr. 13) Forecast: With 600,000 copies of the Profile Books edition in print (up from an original print run of 15,000 in November 2003), it's obvious that Truss's book has struck a nerve. Her volume may not reach such dizzying heights here-perhaps in part due to timing (there can't be Christmas runs in April)-but it'll make a lot of Stateside sticklers very, very happy. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
Adult/High School-The title refers to the "Panda" entry in a poorly punctuated wildlife manual that, if believed, indicates the panda is truly to be feared, especially after eating. Truss, a self-described "punctuation stickler," has written a humorous but helpful guide that was a surprise best-seller in England. The book has been exported without re-editing, so some of the humor and grammar are "veddy" British; however, much of the information and history of punctuation are universal. The author takes pains to distinguish British versus American usage in her discussions. She is horrified at signs like BANANAS' and express checkout lines for "15 items or less." The short chapters are easy to follow and the discussions are light yet substantial. Punctuation marks are discussed individually with known history, geographical differences, and common mistakes. Teens will enjoy reading for fun and even for elucidation; a lot of information is packed into this small book.-Susan H. Woodcock, Fairfax County Public Library, Chantilly, VA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher
Eats, Shoots & Leaves “makes correct usage so cool that you have to admire Ms. Truss.”—Janet Maslin, The New York Times “Witty, smart, passionate.”Los Angeles Times Book Review, Best Books Of 2004: Nonfiction “This book changed my life in small, perfect ways like learning how to make better coffee or fold an omelet. It’s the perfect gift for anyone who cares about grammar and a gentle introduction for those who don’t care enough.”The Boston Sunday Globe

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Eats, Shoots & Leaves

The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation
By Lynne Truss

Gotham Books

ISBN: 1-592-40087-6


The Seventh Sense Either this will ring bells for you, or it won't. A printed banner has appeared on the concourse of a petrol station near to where I live. "Come inside," it says, "for CD's, VIDEO's, DVD's, and BOOK's."

If this satanic sprinkling of redundant apostrophes causes no little gasp of horror or quickening of the pulse, you should probably put down this book at once. By all means congratulate yourself that you are not a pedant or even a stickler; that you are happily equipped to live in a world of plummeting punctuation standards; but just don't bother to go any further. For any true stickler, you see, the sight of the plural word "Book's" with an apostrophe in it will trigger a ghastly private emotional process similar to the stages of bereavement, though greatly accelerated. First there is shock. Within seconds, shock gives way to disbelief, disbelief to pain, and pain to anger. Finally (and this is where the analogy breaks down), anger gives way to a righteous urge to perpetrate an act of criminal damage with the aid of a permanent marker.

It's tough being a stickler for punctuation these days. One almost dare not get up in the mornings. True, one occasionally hears a marvellous punctuation-fan joke about a panda who "eats, shoots and leaves", but in general the stickler's exquisite sensibilities are assaulted from all sides, causing feelings of panic and isolation. A sign at a health club will announce, "I'ts party time, on Saturday 24th May we are have a disco/party night for free, it will be a ticket only evening." Advertisements offer decorative services to "wall's - ceiling's - door's ect". Meanwhile a newspaper placard announces "FAN'S FURY AT STADIUM INQUIRY", which sounds quite interesting until you look inside the paper and discover that the story concerns a quite large mob of fans, actually - not just the lone hopping-mad fan so promisingly indicated by the punctuation.

Everywhere one looks, there are signs of ignorance and indifference. What about that film Two Weeks Notice? Guaranteed to give sticklers a very nasty turn, that was - its posters slung along the sides of buses in letters four feet tall, with no apostrophe in sight. I remember, at the start of the Two Weeks Notice publicity campaign in the spring of 2003, emerging cheerfully from Victoria Station (was I whistling?) and stopping dead in my tracks with my fingers in my mouth. Where was the apostrophe? Surely there should be an apostrophe on that bus? If it were "one month's notice" there would be an apostrophe (I reasoned); yes, and if it were "one week's notice" there would be an apostrophe. Therefore "two weeks' notice" requires an apostrophe! Buses that I should have caught (the 73; two 38s) sailed off up Buckingham Palace Road while I communed thus at length with my inner stickler, unable to move or, indeed, regain any sense of perspective.

Part of one's despair, of course, is that the world cares nothing for the little shocks endured by the sensitive stickler. While we look in horror at a badly punctuated sign, the world carries on around us, blind to our plight. We are like the little boy in The Sixth Sense who can see dead people, except that we can see dead punctuation. Whisper it in petrified little-boy tones: dead punctuation is invisible to everyone else - yet we see it all the time. No one understands us seventh-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. Naturally we become timid about making our insights known, in such inhospitable conditions. Being burned as a witch is not safely enough off the agenda. A sign has gone up in a local charity-shop window which says, baldly, "Can you spare any old records" (no question mark) and I dither daily outside on the pavement. Should I go in and mention it? It does matter that there's no question mark on a direct question. It is appalling ignorance. But what will I do if the elderly charity-shop lady gives me the usual disbelieving stare and then tells me to bugger off, get a life and mind my own business?

On the other hand, I'm well aware there is little profit in asking for sympathy for sticklers. We are not the easiest people to feel sorry for. We refuse to patronise any shop with checkouts for "eight items or less" (because it should be "fewer"), and we got very worked up after 9/11 not because of Osama bin-Laden but because people on the radio kept saying "enormity" when they meant "magnitude", and we really hate that. When we hear the construction "Mr Blair was stood" (instead of "standing") we suck our teeth with annoyance, and when words such as "phenomena", "media" or "cherubim" are treated as singular ("The media says it was quite a phenomena looking at those cherubims"), some of us cannot suppress actual screams. 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.

I know precisely when my own damned stickler personality started to get the better of me. In the autumn of 2002, I was making a series of programmes about punctuation for Radio 4 called Cutting a Dash. My producer invited John Richards of the Apostrophe Protection Society to come and talk to us. At that time, I was quite tickled by the idea of an Apostrophe Protection Society, on whose website could be found photographic examples of ungrammatical signs such as "The judges decision is final" and "No dog's". We took Mr Richards on a trip down Berwick Street Market to record his reaction to some greengrocers' punctuation ("Potatoe's" and so on), and then sat down for a chat about how exactly one goes about protecting a conventional printer's mark that, through no fault of its own, seems to be terminally flailing in a welter of confusion.

What the APS does is write courteous letters, he said. A typical letter would explain the correct use of the apostrophe, and express the gentle wish that, should the offending "BOB,S PETS" sign (with a comma) be replaced one day, this well-meant guidance might be borne in mind. It was at this point that I felt a profound and unignorable stirring. It was the awakening of my Inner Stickler. "But that's not enough!" I said. Suddenly I was a-buzz with ideas. What about issuing stickers printed with the words "This apostrophe is not necessary"? What about telling people to shin up ladders at dead of night with an apostrophe-shaped stencil and a tin of paint? Why did the Apostrophe Protection Society not have a militant wing? Could I start one? Where do you get balaclavas?

* * *

Punctuation has been defined many ways. Some grammarians use the analogy of stitching: punctuation as the basting that holds the fabric of language in shape. Another writer tells us that punctuation marks are the traffic signals of language: they tell us to slow down, notice this, take a detour, and stop. I have even seen a rather fanciful reference to the full stop and comma as "the invisible servants in fairy tales - the ones who bring glasses of water and pillows, not storms of weather or love". But best of all, I think, is the simple advice given by the style book of a national newspaper: that punctuation is "a courtesy designed to help readers to understand a story without stumbling".

Isn't the analogy with good manners perfect? 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 word as punctuation. As we shall see, the practice of "pointing" our writing has always been offered in a spirit of helpfulness, to underline meaning and prevent awkward misunderstandings between writer and reader. In 1644 a schoolmaster from Southwark, Richard Hodges, wrote in his The English Primrose that "great care ought to be had in writing, for the due observing of points: for, the neglect thereof will pervert the sense", and he quoted as an example, "My Son, if sinners intise [entice] thee consent thou, not refraining thy foot from their way." Imagine the difference to the sense, he says, if you place the comma after the word "not": "My Son, if sinners intise thee consent thou not, refraining thy foot from their way." This was the 1644 equivalent of Ronnie Barker in Porridge, reading the sign-off from a fellow lag's letter from home, "Now I must go and get on my lover", and then pretending to notice a comma, so hastily changing it to, "Now I must go and get on, my lover."

To be fair, many people who couldn't punctuate their way out of a paper bag are still interested in the way punctuation can alter the sense of a string of words. It is the basis of all "I'm sorry, I'll read that again" jokes. Instead of "What would you with the king?" you can have someone say in Marlowe's Edward II, "What? Would you? With the king?" The consequences of mispunctuation (and re-punctuation) have appealed to both great and little minds, and in the age of the fancy-that email a popular example is the comparison of two sentences:

A woman, without her man, is nothing. A woman: without her, man is nothing.

Which, I don't know, really makes you think, doesn't it? Here is a popular "Dear Jack" letter that works in much the same fundamentally pointless way: Dear Jack,

I want a man who knows what love is all about. You are generous, kind, thoughtful. People who are not like you admit to being useless and inferior. You have ruined me for other men. I yearn for you. I have no feelings whatsoever when we're apart. I can be forever happy - will you let me be yours?

Jill Dear Jack,

I want a man who knows what love is. All about you are generous, kind, thoughtful people, who are not like you. Admit to being useless and inferior. You have ruined me. For other men I yearn! For you I have no feelings whatsoever. When we're apart I can be forever happy. Will you let me be?


Jill But just to show there is nothing very original about all this, five hundred years before email a similarly tiresome puzzle was going round:

Every Lady in this Land Hath 20 Nails on each Hand; Five & twenty on Hands and Feet; And this is true, without deceit.

(Every lady in this land has twenty nails. On each hand, five; and twenty on hands and feet.)

So all this is quite amusing, but it is noticeable that no one emails the far more interesting example of the fateful mispunctuated telegram that precipitated the Jameson Raid on the Transvaal in 1896 - I suppose that's a reflection of modern education for you. Do you know of the Jameson Raid, described as a "fiasco"? Marvellous punctuation story. Throw another log on that fire. The Transvaal was a Boer republic at the time, and it was believed that the British and other settlers around Johannesburg (who were denied civil rights) would rise up if Jameson invaded. But unfortunately, when the settlers sent their telegraphic invitation to Jameson, it included a tragic ambiguity:

It is under these circumstances that we feel constrained to call upon you to come to our aid should a disturbance arise here the circumstances are so extreme that we cannot but believe that you and the men under you will not fail to come to the rescue of people who are so situated.

As Eric Partridge points out in his Usage and Abusage, if you place a full stop after the word "aid" in this passage, the message is unequivocal. It says, "Come at once!" If you put it after "here", however, it says something more like, "We might need you at some later date depending on what happens here, but in the meantime - don't call us, Jameson, old boy; we'll call you." Of course, the message turned up at The Times with a full stop after "aid" (no one knows who put it there) and poor old Jameson just sprang to the saddle, without anybody wanting or expecting him to.

All of which substantiates Partridge's own metaphor for punctuation, which is that it's "the line along which the train (composition, style, writing) must travel if it isn't to run away with its driver". In other words, punctuation keeps sense on the rails. Of course people will always argue over levels of punctuation, accusing texts of having too much or too little. There is an enjoyable episode in Peter Hall's Diaries when, in advance of directing Albert Finney in Hamlet, he "fillets" the text of "practically all its punctuation except what is essential to sense" and then finds he has to live with the consequences. On August 21, 1975, he notes, "Shakespeare's text is always absurdly over-punctuated; generations of scholars have tried to turn him into a good grammarian." All of which sounds sensible enough, until we find the entry for the first rehearsal on September 22, which he describes as "good" but also admits was "a rough and ready, stumbling reading, with people falling over words or misplaced emphases".

* * *

What happened to punctuation? Why is it so disregarded when it is self-evidently so useful in preventing enormous mix-ups? A headline in today's paper says, "DEAD SONS PHOTOS MAY BE RELEASED" - the story relating to dead sons in the plural, but you would never know. The obvious culprit is the recent history of education practice. We can blame the pedagogues. Until 1960, punctuation was routinely taught in British schools. A child sitting a County Schools exam in 1937 would be asked to punctuate the following puzzler: "Charles the First walked and talked half an hour after his head was cut off" (answer: "Charles the First walked and talked. Half an hour after, his head was cut off"). Today, thank goodness, the National Curriculum ensures that when children are eight, they are drilled in the use of the comma, even if their understanding of grammar is at such an early age a bit hazy. For Cutting a Dash we visited a school in Cheshire where quite small children were being taught that you use commas in the following situations:

1 in a list

2 before dialogue

3 to mark out additional information

Which was very impressive. Identifying "additional information" at the age of eight is quite an achievement, and I know for a fact that I couldn't have done it. But if things are looking faintly more optimistic under the National Curriculum, there remains the awful truth that, for over a quarter of a century, punctuation and English grammar were simply not taught in the majority of schools, with the effect that A-level examiners annually bewailed the condition of examinees' written English, while nothing was done. Candidates couldn't even spell the words "grammar" and "sentence", let alone use them in any well-informed way.


Excerpted from Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

What People are Saying About This

James Lipton
At long last, a worthy tribute to punctuation’s stepchildren: the neglected semicolon, the enigmatic ellipsis and the mad dash. Punc-rock on!
—(James Lipton, author of An Exaltation of Larks and writer and host of Inside the Actors Studio)
Frank McCourt
Sticklers unite!
What people are saying about Eats, Shoots & Leaves

If Lynne Truss were Roman Catholic I’d nominate her for sainthood. As it is, thousands of English teachers from Maine to Maui will be calling down blessings on her merry, learned head. (author of Angela’s Ashes)
From the Publisher
Eats, Shoots & Leaves “makes correct usage so cool that you have to admire Ms. Truss.”
—Janet Maslin, The New York Times

“Witty, smart, passionate.”
—Los Angeles Times Book Review, Best Books Of 2004: Nonfiction

“This book changed my life in small, perfect ways like learning how to make better coffee or fold an omelet. It’s the perfect gift for anyone who cares about grammar and a gentle introduction for those who don’t care enough.”
The Boston Sunday Globe

Richard Lederer
There is a multitude of us riding this planet for whom apostrophe catastrophes, quotation bloatation, mad dashes, and other comma-tose errors squeak like chalk across the blackboard of our sensibilities. At last we who are punctilious about punctuation have a manifesto, and it is titled Eats, Shoots & Leaves.
—(Richard Lederer, author of A Man of My Words and Anguished English)

Meet the Author

Lynne Truss is a writer and journalist who started out as a literary editor with a blue pencil and then got sidetracked. The author of three novels and numerous radio comedy dramas, she spent six years as the television critic of The Times of London, followed by four (rather peculiar) years as a sports columnist for the same newspaper. She won Columnist of the Year for her work for Women’s Journal. Lynne Truss also hosted Cutting a Dash, a popular BBC Radio 4 series about punctuation. She now reviews books for the Sunday Times of London and is a familiar voice on BBC Radio 4. She lives in Brighton, England.

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Eats, Shoots & Leaves 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 137 reviews.
Ghazali More than 1 year ago
This book is not a grammar or style guide. This is rather a book by someone who is passionate about language, in general, and punctuation, in particular. If you see a signboard of a shop advertising "CD's, Video's, DVD's, and Book's", and if you see another one declaring "No Dogs Please" and both of them trouble you immensely, then this book is for you.

Such grammatical errors have troubled me all my life, and I found this book not only immensely entertaining but I identified with the author's feelings very deeply. Yes, I do punctuate my text messages; yes, I do use proper capitalizations and punctuations in my e-mails; and the author declares that sadly most of the people do not bother about such niceties.

Funny, informative, and full of humourous anecdotes, Truss's book is an ode to an endangered species: the punctuation. I enjoyed every page of it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It is clear that this person mistakenly read 'Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation' (this book is definitely intended to be read by adults) and not the milder children version 'Eats, Shoots& Leaves: Why, Commas really do make a difference!' which was intended as required reading for students. The book intended to instruct children on the importance of commas in writing is a worthwhile and well-written text.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Let's eat grandma ........ or Let's eat, Grandma .... get the joke!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Lynne Truss makes punctuation fun! I couldn't put this book down, nor could I stop laughing out loud! If you already love punctuation, you'll love this book. If you're trying to brush up on punctuation, this book makes it fun to learn. Read it!
EGHunter01 More than 1 year ago
Lynne Truss' book, Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation, offers a comical and delightful approach to the importance of proper punctuation and grammar. This book gives readers laugh-out-loud examples of improper sentence punctuation as well as other examples of improper punctuation that may lead to the misunderstanding of an intended message. *Funny and educational.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Yes, that's right, 5 Stars for a book about proper punctuation. I fully expected to get through this book only for my 2008 Challenges. In my mind's eye I saw myself reading a page or two and then falling sound asleep from boredom. I could not have been more wrong. Not only does Lynne Truss make punctuation interesting, she makes it funny. She knows just were little punctuation puns fit. Who knew there were 17 proper uses for the apostrophe?! There was, at onetime, a movement to have a special mark to indicate a rhetorical question. As is stated on the front flap, 'Through sloppy usage and low standards on the Internet, in e-mail, and now 'txt msgs', we have made proper punctuation an endangered species.' [not to mention proper spelling] I've given this book 5 Stars not only because I enjoyed it, but because I think all of us who have been out of the classroom for 10 years or more could use a refresher.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It did just that. I was always good at grammar and understood it and such, but never has a book impacted me so much 'maybe Harry Potter but even that didn't stick after Deathly Hallows came out' as Eats, Shoots, and Leaves. My middle school Language Arts suggested it, and I read her copy and LOVED it. I recently went out and bought my own to refer back to. Definately read it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Definitely worth the couple hours to read. Entertaining and informative. All middle school students should read.
MissPrint More than 1 year ago
Seriously, when was the last time you read a book where you could literally say, "This book has changed my life." Eat, Shoots and Leaves by Lynn Truss is one such book. At first I thought a zero tolerance approach to punctuation sounded a bit extreme. That is until Truss mentioned one of my favorite movies ("Two Weeks Notice"), pointing out that the title should be "Two Weeks' Notice". I was shocked. I had always assumed an apostrophe was there. Then I started listening to The Plain White T's, a band whose name makes no sense with an apostrophe, and I knew things were getting serious. Nonetheless I will admit that it was a challenge reading the chapters about the apostrophe and the comma (although I have learned a few knew tricks for commas). Then I came to a chapter entitled "Airs and Graces." From there onward, the book was a revelation. I learned my punctuation from my mom and copious reading. I still have a hard time explaining dependent clauses and why it is appropriate to use "well" instead of "good" even though I can tell when a sentence is complete/written correctly if I can read it. I am sharing this background so that when I say Truss explains all of the punctuation rules presented in her book you will know I mean really clear. Truss has illustrated that there is a time and place for the dash and double-dash in all good literature. She has also shown that, to avoid over-using the dash, a colon can easily replace a dash in certain situations. I never knew that! What's nice about Eats, Shoots and Leaves is that it's not a dry read. Yes, Truss is talking about punctuation. Yes, she is deadly serious about it. But she maintains a sense of humor throughout: including witty examples and poking fun at punctuation (and punctuation sticklers) as much as she explains it. In addition, Truss includes abundant historical information about the punctuation marks she discusses ranging from the first names for parentheses to the first appearance of an apostrophe in printed documents. I would recommend this book highly to anyone with an interest in writing. Even if you know the basics, Truss has a few tricks up her sleeve that are sure to give your writing a little extra flair.
threecrazyboys More than 1 year ago
A teacher recommended this book. My kids love it. It makes learning fun. MUST HAVE!!!
MCarmen71 More than 1 year ago
Grammarians all over the world, unite! Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss is a book everyone with a pulse should own. If you love the written word as I do, you most likely have a passion for punctuation as well. Truss weaves humor into a beautifully written English lesson, and if you can get past her obvious disgust for American English (okay, let¿s face it, you just need to get past it already), you¿ll find the true gem that¿s cleverly hidden amongst the satire.

With chapters titled ¿The Seventh Sense¿, ¿That¿ll Do, Comma¿ and ¿Cutting a Dash¿ (which is also the name of a BBC Radio 4 series), Truss turns learning about the proper use of punctuation into lively reading. The fast passed energetic vocabulary literally jumps off the page and engages you right from the start.

Eats, Shoots & Leaves is a highly recommended read for scholars and professors alike; and for anyone named Tom, Dick or Harry. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
The_Iceman More than 1 year ago
Lynn Truss, a proud, self-proclaimed snobbish pedant, makes no bones about the fact that her short book, "Eats, Shoots and Leaves" is really an extended essay on pedantry - a style book, a prescriptive grammar, a manifesto, a rant and, perhaps saddest of all, a eulogy - bemoaning the demise of the correct use of punctuation in the written English word today.

As a reader, writer and speaker who, frankly, takes pride in an extensive vocabulary and takes pains to use our magnificent language correctly, I found myself nodding vigorously in agreement as Truss eloquently spoke about the purpose of correct punctuation. She helps us to understand that commas, apostrophes, colons and the other denizens of our pantheon of punctuation marks are aids and signs on a road map for communication without misunderstanding. They are an invaluable assistance to reading out loud with the proper interpretation, lilt and intonation that an author intended in the same fashion as a well annotated musical score enables a musician to interpret music as a composer meant it to be played.

"Eats, Shoots and Leaves" also provides us with snippets of the history of punctuation. I wager that few of us were aware that the apostrophe first appeared as early as the 16th century.

If history and a pedantic rant delivered with a school marm attitude, a baleful glare and a wrathful wagging finger were all we got from a reading of "Eats, Shoots and Leaves", I'm sure most of us would have yawned in complete boredom and Lynn Truss's novel would not likely have reached the list of best sellers. But, thankfully, "Eats, Shoots and Leaves" is also liberally sprinkled with a very healthy dose of dry as dust British wit, humour and sarcasm that hit my funny bone with a full-sized mallet. One of my favourites was the story of a community group who had built an enormous playground for the children of their neighbourhood and advertised it with the sign "GIANT KID'S PLAYGROUND". To the amazement of the group that had built the facility, it was hardly ever used. Lynn Truss, with tongue in cheek, suggested it was probably because everyone was terrified of meeting the giant kid.

By the way, the much maligned salesman of this review's title is actually a complete tee-totaller. He is, however, a very exceptional pickled-herring salesman! (If you'll forgive my mixed metaphors, a very different kettle of fish, indeed). This witty little example shows how the poor, lowly, and much misunderstood dash can eliminate any possibility of misunderstanding the sentence.

Highly recommended.

Paul Weiss
Guest More than 1 year ago
Having only recently come to live in Britain from Jamaica I thought we were poor on our use of the English Language. Well now I know that a whole lot of people here, including professionals, badly need to read this book and take notes.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is hilarious and informative - anyone who says differently must be an incredibly boring person. Truss didn't write it to be used as a textbook (she even said that!), but as an entertaining work. I feel sorry for anyone that scoffed at it, nose in the air. Try to enjoy life a little more!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
It is the perfect book to sit and read if you need a laugh. Lynn Truss was brilliant. Even though I am from the U.S.A and it was written about British grammar, I enjoyed it all the same. I'd like to take her advice and protest against incorrect grammer with an apostrophe on a stick. Sticklers unite!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I finally found someone as obsessed with grammar and punctuation as I am! I now want to take Lynne Truss' advice and walk around with a giant black marker to put apostrophes in the words that are missing them on public signs.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a superb book in the humble opinion of one to whom poor grammar, spelling and puncuation is something up with which she will not put! :)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Whoever decided that the first 7 pages of book were a good sample should be fired, we got chapter titles and nothing else. Bad form! I did give 5 stars for book review because I have had this in hardback since first published and adore book. Makes punctuation understandable and fun.
Brodk More than 1 year ago
A good book marred by the overly precious language and constant attempts to be humorous. Interesting observations on punctuation, though.
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