Eats, Shoots and Leaves: A Zero-Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynne Truss

“A panda walks into a cafe. He orders a sandwich, eats it, then draws a gun and fires two shots in the air.
’Why?’ asks the confused waiter, as the panda makes towards the exit. The panda produces a badly punctuated wildlife annual and tosses it over his shoulder.
’I’m a panda,’ he says, at the door. ‘Look it up.’
The waiter turns to the relevant entry and, sure enough, finds an explanation.
Panda. Large black-and-white bear-like mammal, native to China. Eats, shoots and leaves.




As an avid collector of grammar guide books, I was pleasantly surprised to find a humorous but informative guide on punctuation that involved a panda in its cover. It looks cute, but don’t let the cuteness fool you. It discussed, with biting sarcasm and intelligence, the history and nuances of using punctuation for a more grammatically correct style of writing. It’s beyond awesome, if you ask me.

“In the family of punctuation, where the full stop is daddy and the comma is mummy, and the semicolon quietly practices the piano with crossed hands, the exclamation mark is the big attention-deficit brother who gets overexcited and breaks things and laughs too loudly.”

For one, it justified my addiction for the semi-colon; it proceeded to declare colons and semicolons as a source of air and grace. Never have I seen a contemporary and humorous discourse talk about punctuation with the same level of passion and reverence that Truss gave in this particular book.

I must say, it heightened my love for the semi-colon. It made me more conscious of how I punctuate my sentences. I admit that before reading this book, I had been quite careless especially in matters of SMS and email messaging. This book made me realize that proper punctuation, like good manners, is unfortunately close to becoming extinct in this digital age if we are not too careful with how we season our writing with the right punctuation marks. From differentiating between it’s and its to comparing the difference with an appositive and a double dash, the book succinctly and substantially provides ample guidance.

Anyone who has a semblance of interest in English grammar will be drawn to this book. Her style of writing is extremely engaging and fearless. And she is quite clear on her stand in the pedestal with which punctuation must be rightfully placed: “Proper punctuation is both the sign and the cause of clear thinking.”

Indeed, Miss Truss. I’m a believer now. 🙂

2 thoughts on “Eats, Shoots and Leaves: A Zero-Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynne Truss

  1. I read a chapter of the book a few years ago, but was never able to finish it because it wasn’t my copy. As luck would have it, I found (and bought) a copy today at Book Sale, so I’ll be reading the chapters I missed. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *