Why Punctuation Matters
Recently a company posted on my Facebook wall suggesting I order some of its products for Easter. Their post read, "Easters coming, so order you're personalised gifts now." Naturally I felt obliged to point out to them that people might have more confidence ordering "they're" personalised gifts if they felt that someone at the company was actually literate enough to get the text right.
But it's not just online. Oh no. I don't consider it vandalism to correct the punctuation on official signs. There's a local pet shop where I am no longer welcome after being caught annotating a display (in my defence it read "Corn Snake's") and I took a long walk around Thundersley Common with a black permanent marker shortly after the council erected several signs saying, "Please pick up after your dog by not doing so you risk a fine."
Does it really matter, though? Am I just being pointlessly obsessive and annoying the heck out of people in the process?
Well, I think it does matter. How many times did you have to re-read the sign from the Common before you understood what it meant? Good punctuation conveys meaning. Bad punctuation obscures it and confuses the reader. It can even change the meaning entirely, as the Prudential Building Society discovered several years ago when they ran full-page adverts in the British press with the tagline, "Were here to help you."
My daughter learned the rules of apostrophes, commas, capital letters, etc. in year 1 at school. She's now in year 3, and she knows that "Corn snake's" is wrong. From this I conclude that the reptile shop owners have a lower level of intelligence than my eight-year-old.
At the very least I would suggest that if you are a public-facing business your grammar, spelling and punctuation needs to be perfect. If it isn't, go back to infant school and relearn the basics. Otherwise I will not be held responsible for my actions with a permanent marker.