Punctuation Makes All the Difference

August 30, 2004 by

While editing announcements for my youth group’s newsletter I came across this line in a blurb about fall Sunday school classes:

Parents’ sex will be discussed with the junior high Sunday school, if there are any concerns or questions please feel free to talk to the Youth Coordinator.

A colon instead of an apostrophe can make all the difference:

Parents: sex will be discussed with the junior high Sunday school, if there are any concerns or questions please feel free to talk to the Youth Coordinator.

Editing and proofreading is a vital part of any marketing project, especially if you want to avoid an awkward junior high Sunday school class. But it’s not always easy. Speed and laziness conspire against us. Last week I posted some updates to this site and was quickly e-mailed about mistakes I should have caught.

All you have to do is be patient and diligent. That means grabbing a dictionary for the word you’re unsure about (like I just did with “diligent”). Sometimes it helps to read your copy outloud. You’ll be forced to read it slower and will be more likely to catch mistakes. It also helps to have another set of eyes proofread your copy. But whatever you do, don’t trust a computer’s spell or grammar check. Grammatically, there’s nothing wrong with either of the above sentences.

Post By:

Kevin D. Hendricks

When Kevin isn't busy as the editor of Church Marketing Sucks, he runs his own writing and editing company, Monkey Outta Nowhere. Kevin has been blogging since 1998, runs the hyperlocal site West St. Paul Reader, and has published several books, including 137 Books in One Year: How to Fall in Love With Reading, The Stephanies and all of our church communication books.
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4 Responses to “Punctuation Makes All the Difference”

  • Sucker
    April 26, 2007

    how in the world is possible that someone trying to help the church has chosen to put such s lang word as ‘suck’in its logo!Do you at all know when the suck is coming from, and what many think using this word!
    This is terrible.I would not use your website, and will not advice anyone to use it, or will advice not to use it, if it ever come us in any way. You are shaming the name ‘Christian.’I have no doubt, you are a few very frustrated people there, who don’t know what a ‘suck’ is!

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    • Christine
      August 17, 2010

      suck as in … fellatio? In which case a sucker is dominated, or even gay, depending on the recipient. Or suck as in, a baby sucks at a mother’s breast and a sucker would be juvenile?

      Speaking of etymology, did you know that “nice” has an interesting history? Deriving from the Latin nescius, “ignorant” (from nescire, “not to know”), its meaning in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries commonly was “foolish” or “wanton.” To refer to someone as a “nice person” was no compliment.

      Language changes. It evolves. If you’re old enough, you might even have heard “gay” used to mean “happy” at one point.

      When something “sucks,” it is bad. The meaning has simplified, and purified itself. Best to keep learning, eh, because out-dated understandings don’t bode well on the internet… it is the future, after all.

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    • Theresa
      August 18, 2010

      While I am not crazy about the name of this site, I am more appalled at your innuendo/insult to the team on this blog. I’m not sure “low blows” are very Christlike either….

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  • Sarah Hurst
    July 4, 2007

    Actually, both of those sentences are comma splices. ;-) The corrected one should read as follows:
    “Parents: sex will be discussed with the junior high Sunday school. If there are any concerns or questions, please feel free to talk to the Youth Coordinator.”
    If you were feeling really crazy, you could throw in a semicolon instead of starting a new sentence, but I’ve found semicolons kind of freak people out.
    Anyway, I appreciate what you’re trying to do with your site here. Kudos!

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