The problem with punctuation………….

There’s a view held by some that punctuation is unnecessary, that in these days of instant messages, txtspk and, to be honest, the lack of a basic care of when and where to use the apostrophe, comma or semi-colon, we really don’t need to bother.

I beg to differ, not only because grammar helps give words a structure, a framework and very often proper meaning – but it can also keep your job.

I’ll explain.

I recently returned a signed contract to a client and as I had made a couple of minor changes to the content based on a discussion we had concluded, I initialled the amendments in the contract. Wanting to make sure that my client was completely happy with the amendments, in my accompanying letter to them I made the offer that if they wanted to update the contract to include the changes and send it back out to me again, I would be very happy to resign.

OK, so that looks innocuous enough doesn’t it?

The word I used was resign.

Did I mean that I wanted to walk away from the contract?

NO!! Absolutely not! What I meant was that I would be happy to sign the updated version – for which the word is re-sign! (Some would say I should have changed the sentence to avoid confusion but that’s another blog posting).

So for the sake of a little hyphen I could quite easily have inferred to my client that I didn’t want to work with them, and turned my back on a really interesting piece of work and a relationship that I have been developing over quite a few months.

As I always read everything I write again before sending anything, I recognised my faux-pas and quickly changed resign to re-sign and the potential disaster was averted – but you can see why I think punctuation is important.

I wonder how often these kind of issues slip through the net…………..

If you are interested in the “rules” relating to hyphenation of words with the pre-fix “re”, I’ll refer you to any good grammar guide, but one I found online that often helps me is called in which rule 8 for using hyphens is:

Use the hyphen with the prefix re only when the re means again AND omitting the hyphen would cause confusion with another word“.

I think it would have caused confusion………..and Happy New Year to everyone

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