Basic Punctuation

Basic Punctuation:
A Writing Lesson

Changing the punctuation of a sentence can change its meaning.  Take, for example, these sentences:

“I, like you, relish in activities of questionable morality.”

“I like you. Relish in activities of questionable morality!”

The first sentence draws a comparison between the subjects — “I” and “you” — linking them in their ability to enjoy activities that others may deem questionable. The second line of text provides a direct statement followed by a stern command. Whereas the latter is direct and short tongued, as if said from a dominant person to one who is eager for such precise linguistic control, the first sentence is friendlier: It places “I” and “you” on equal footing, so to speak, and in even-handed conversation with one another.

Which sentence do you prefer?

A. The commas. Inviting and friendly, as in: “I, like you, …”

B. The period. Direct and firm, as in: “I like you.”

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