Comma Sense A Fun-damental Guide to Punctuation

Richard Lederer and John Shore

St. Martin's Griffin



Trade Paperback

160 Pages



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Are you confounded by commas, addled by apostrophes, or queasy about quotation marks? Do you believe a bracket is just a support for a wall shelf, a dash is something you make for the bathroom, and a colon and semicolon are large and small intestines? If so, language humorists Richard Lederer and John Shore (with the sprightly aid of illustrator Jim McLean), have written the perfect book to help make your written words perfectly precise and punctuationally profound. The authors show how each mark of punctuation—no matter how seemingly arcane—can be effortlessly associated with a great American icon: the underrated yet powerful period with Seabiscuit; the jazzy semicolon with Duke Ellington; even the rebel apostrophe with famed outlaw Jesse James. But this book is way more than a flight of whimsy. When you've finished Comma Sense, you'll not only have mastered everything you need to know about punctuation through Lederer and Shore's simple, clear, and right-on-the-mark rules, you'll have had fun doing so. When you're done laughing and learning, you'll be a veritable punctuation whiz, ready to make your marks accurately, sensitively, and effectively.


Praise for Comma Sense

"Comma Sense is a clear, entertaining, and just plain helpful guide to the American rules of punctuation."—Lynne Truss, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Eats, Shoots & Leaves

"Of my 465 books on punctuation—I've read them all—Comma Sense is the wisest and funniest. It's the only one you really need."—Bryan A. Garner, author of Garner's Modern American Usage

"A thorough field guide to the pesky little critters of the punctuation forest.
Lederer and Shore hit the marks!"—Bill Walsh, author of The Elephants of Style

"Who else would call the exclamation point 'this titan of tingle, this prince of palpitation'? Who else would call the apostrophe the Jesse James of punctuation? Who else would compare the dash to Fred Astaire, the semicolon to Duke Ellington, and parentheses (yes, my darlings) to Louella Parsons? It can only be Richard Lederer, Viceroy of Verbivores, and his trusty sidekick, John Shore."—Patricia T. O'Conner, author of Woe Is I

"Punctuation needn't be perplexing or painful, as Richard Lederer and John Shore make abundantly clear. Comma Sense is full of easy-to-understand guidance for the grammatically challenged—and loads of laughs besides!"—Martha Barnette, author of Dog Days and Dandelions

"If America had 'Living National Treasures,' the way Japan and Korea do, Richard Lederer would be one."—Barbara Wallraff, author of Your Own Words

Reviews from Goodreads



Read an Excerpt

Chapter One There are only three ways a sentence can end-- With an exclamation point: You won! With a question mark: You won? Or with a period: I know you won, but I'm having trouble believing it. That's it. Those are your choices. Every sentence that's not an exclamation or a question must end with a period. And because people are by and large too proud to ask too many questions and too shy to go around hollering all the time, the vast (not the half-vast) majority of sentences are what are called declarative statements--statements that just say something
Read the full excerpt


  • Richard Lederer and John Shore

  • Richard Lederer, Ph.D., is the author of more than thirty books on the English language, including Anguished English and A Man of My Words. His syndicated column, "Looking at Language," appears in newspapers and magazines nationwide, and he co-hosts a weekly show on San Diego Public Radio. He lives in San Diego, California, with his wife.

    John Shore is a magazine writer and editor in San Diego. He is the author of Penguins, Pain, & The Whole Shebang: Why I Do the Things I Do, by God (as told to John Shore).
  • Richard Lederer ©Hoffman Photographic
    Richard Lederer