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Eats, Shoots & Leaves: Why, Commas Really DO Make a Difference!

3.87  ·  Rating Details ·  85,761 Ratings  ·  4,508 Reviews
Young and young-at-heart sticklers, unite! Lynne Truss and illustrator Bonnie Timmons provide hilarious proof that punctuation really does matter.

Illuminating the comical confusion the lowly comma can cause, this new edition of Eats, Shoots & Leaves uses lively, subversive illustrations to show how misplacing or leaving out a comma can change the meaning of a sentenc

Hardcover, 32 pages
Published September 14th 2006 by Profile Books Ltd (first published January 2nd 2003)
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Alp Beck Yes. I'm a non native speaker. The book is hysterical!
Robert Johnson Just like a grammar textbook there are discrete chapters.
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Jun 16, 2011 Nataliya rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Grammar nerds and punctuation sticklers
Bad punctuation can force an innocent animal to live outside the law. Now, instead of peacefully munching, it EATS, SHOOTS, and LEAVES.

I proudly consider myself a punctuation martyr. The setting is an ordinary Soviet elementary school, first grade. I am kicked out of the classroom and sent home with an angry note. My transgression - in my wide-eyed seven-year-old innocence I dared to correct my (very Soviet) teacher on her comma placement and a spelling mistake. This crime landed me on her "
Feb 14, 2010 Manny marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
I have, for some reason, frequently been recommended Lynne Truss's book, though the reason escapes me; friends who have been exposed to my academic writing style are particularly prone to do so, and I have grown used to this strange phenomenon. I'm sure it says more about them - poor, unenlightened souls - than it does about me; for some reason, in particular, very few people understand what a wonderful punctuation mark the semi-colon is, and that it can, and very often should, be used to replac ...more
Dan Schwent
Mar 04, 2017 Dan Schwent rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017, 2017-books
Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation is a humorous book about punctuation. Who knew punctuation could be so entertaining?

As someone who writes a fair bit (half a million words on Goodreads alone), I know my way around a sentence. However, when this popped up on Amazon on the cheap, I was powerless to resist, like my dog on a piece of cat shit.

In Eats, Shoots & Leaves, Lynn Truss takes us on a Bill Bryson-esque odyssey through a forest of commas, apostrophes,
Will Byrnes
Oct 24, 2008 Will Byrnes rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a delightful screed on the demise of punctuation in contemporary expression. Truss bemoans the loss of knowledge or of interest in proper use of language. Truss is a Brit and the usages have not been modified for the American edition of the book. A must and an enjoyable read for anyone who cares about our language, for any reader. In addition to gripes about the slovenly way that we write, Truss offers some history on punctuation.
Jul 26, 2008 Jason rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm a snob. In the comfortable safety of my desk chair, I'm audibly mocking you if you dare use "your" for "you're" (my biggest punctuation pet peeve) or if your emails are peppered with unnecessary exclamation points and an overabundance of emoticons. I like the smiley in IM conversations; I hate it in email. It's just a thing. When I meet a pretty young thing that I might want to break bread with on occasion, I'm filled with anxiety over that first email: will she write in complete sentences w ...more
Jul 31, 2007 Jojo rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who are pedantic and irritating
Shelves: non-fiction
Maybe it's because I suffer from a lack of punctuation know-how!>?>:_; but this book irked me! Maybe it's because I'm a linguist and, while I understand the purpose and value of punctuation, I just can't get all worked up about it. Yeah, we all gotta have good writing skillz. But, most sticklers for punctuation that I know are people who want to lord their intelligence over other people, but don't have much to recommend their intelligence other than a knowledge of when to use a semicolon. ...more
Dec 02, 2008 Aaron rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Lynne Truss pulls off the impressive feat of pumping about 20 pages of expository writing full of enough hot air to go into orbit (or at least top the Bestsellers list for several weeks).

I could probably write a book of equal length (a fluffy and yet tedious 204 pages) going into what a disorganized mess this book is, but I'll spare you. Instead, here are three reasons why you should save yourself the criminal $17.50 this book costs.

First, Truss comes across as such a pretentious, self-importa
Jan 31, 2008 Chris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is how I know I'm a real English teacher - I have a shelf dedicated to books just about English. The history of English, the uses and misuses of English, and even the history of the alphabet we use. This is something I never expected to have in my personal library, that's for sure.

But that's all to be expected; I'm an English teacher, and people like me are supposed to read books like this. It's professional development, or something. The weird thing about this book, a book dedicated to pu
Kwesi 章英狮
What if one day when you wake up, God disintegrate all the commas in the world even erase it inside the mind of all the people living inside this small spherical world called Earth, and God only give you one copy of Lynne Truss’ book, Eats, Shoots & Leaves to survive. Can you help the commas survive or you will be one of those people who are planning to dominate the world by commas? Be one of us, be the Comma Fighters.

It is very hard to accept that commas are one of the most used and most ea
Riku Sayuj
Aug 29, 2011 Riku Sayuj rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reference, r-r-rs

Delightful book. Have enlisted for the corps.

Consider: “Using the comma well announces that you have an ear for sense and rhythm, confidence in your style and a proper respect for your reader, but it does not mark you out as a master of your craft. But colons and semicolons—well, they are in a different league, my dear! They give such lift!” author Truss writes. “The humble comma can keep the sentence aloft all right, like this, UP, for hours if necessary, UP, like this, UP, sort- of bouncing, a
Lynne King
Feb 13, 2013 Lynne King rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites
I found the title intriguing and also the author’s name. I also enjoyed the first words in the Introduction:

“Either this will ring bells for you, or it won’t. A printed banner has appeared on the concourse of a petrol station near to where I live. “Come inside,” it says, “for CD’s, VIDEO’s, DVD’s, and Book’s.”

Such incorrect usage of the apostrophe and it just makes me squirm. I have the same feeling about “its” and “it’s”. I vividly recall learning English grammar at school. It was exceedingly
Apr 20, 2014 Carol. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of writing, humor, words
I confess: I frequently find myself self-conscious about my use of punctuation. A few years back, I even bought a copy of Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style, but have yet to read more than a chapter or two at a time before discovering something else to do, even if it’s bathing the dog. Similarly, I procrastinated on reading Eats Shoots & Leaves, and I really shouldn’t have. Full of humor and information, it explains some of the easier nuances to punctuation in a useful and engaging man ...more
Jul 25, 2007 David rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I really don't see what all the fuss was about this book--the author didn't seem particularly knowledgeable, and her "zero-tolerance" approach seems to do more to promote intolerance than to promote clarity.

In particular, her distaste for "emoticons" seems entirely inconsistent with her fascination with the origins of punctuation--it's as if she thinks of punctuation as a dead thing that _used to be_ alive, but now she doesn't want anyone to disturb the corpse.
I'm undecided as to whether I'm a punctuationally-challenged heathen, or if I qualify as a stickler. I have no formal training (other than my school years) pertaining to punctuation, and if you were to ask me to define the rules pertaining to when a semicolon should be used, I'd probably guess at something close to right... maybe.

Ugh, and see: I'm an ellipses junkie! It's unacceptable, since I am not a famous author who can break the rules with impunity.

However, many of the rules of good punct
John Beeler
Jul 11, 2007 John Beeler rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book was a waste of my time. Think of an old guy yelling at a bunch of kids to get off his lawn. Then put that sentence in really good grammar, and that is this book.

It's overwhelmingly pretentious. As far as I am concerned, it generally ignores the way language moves to apparent regression when in fact it is merely changing, as it always does.
Sanctimonious prudery that doesn't even get everything right, smartly gutted by Louis Menand in a withering New Yorker review. Meh.
A cute read that illustrates (literally) how moving a comma just one word away from its appropriate place will drastically change the meaning of the entire sentence. Simple, colorful cartoons make these examples shine. Some are quite comical.
Jun 23, 2012 Caroline rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humour, miscellaneous
This book is a witty rant about the use and misuse of punctuation. It has a very high feel good factor. We, the readers, of course know how to use apostrophes correctly, and that writing littered with exclamation marks infers a feeble mind. We know subconsciously, even if not via overt rules, how to use hyphens. We pat pat pat ourselves on the back with being so in accord with this funny woman and her nit-picking usage of grammar.

Ahhhh, except this is the nub of the thing. Lynne Truss in this bo
Sep 12, 2008 Kathrynn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fellow Sticklers
Recommended to Kathrynn by: Language and Grammar Group
I thoroughly enjoyed this short, funny book about British punctuation. The author had a wonderful sense of humor and used it throughout the book. This was a quick read, with sections on the:

1. Apostrophe
2. Comma
3. Quotation Marks (single and double)
(Now I understand why I see punctuation in and outside of quotation marks; British place outside while the American custom place inside.)
4. Colon, Semicolon and Interjections
5. Dash, Exclamation, Question, Italics, Underlining...
6. Hyphen
7. Emoticons
Shannon (Giraffe Days)
To be honest, I never heard the panda joke until this book came out. The Australian version is a bit different - not as clever and involved, perhaps, but funny nonetheless. It went something like (and I am the worst person at re-telling jokes, I always forget bits. Usually the punchline): What does an Aussie bloke have in common with a wombat? They both eat, shoots and leaves. Except that's not quite it cause the grammar is off. Never let me tell a joke, I'll always ruin it.

Anyway, to the book.
Arielle Walker
According to Lynne Truss, I'm a "stickler". I've been known to spend a good hour or more obsessing over the placement of a comma, a semi-colon, a hyphen, a dash. Are my brackets formed correctly? Have I left my sentence hanging on a cliff-edge with a poorly placed dash?

Even worse is the feeling that occurs when coming across such a cliff-edge while reading; a stomach lurching queasiness that something doesn't feel right, and if only that editor had paid a little more attention we wouldn't be in
Dec 01, 2015 Nastassja rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: huge fans of puncruation

This is a first book in a while I read in russian. You may notice that maybe it's not the best idea to read a book about english grammar in russian language. But worry not, I had a really good translation that was created with the help of many educated british ladies and gentlemen; moreover the original quotes were saved in translation and I had a bonus in a form of two phrases instead of one.

This book is not a grammar book but an entertaining nonfiction about the most funny misuse of punctuati

Jul 23, 2016 Lilo rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one
I found this book utterly disappointing. It circles around the most primitive punctuation mistakes and repeats them at no end. It did not answer any of my punctuation questions.

If you know that the plural of, let's say, "egg" is "eggs" and not "egg's", you don't need this book; that is, unless you want to get some good laughs about ignorant people who don't know that you don't use an apostrophe to build a plural. And if you should happen to be an elementary-school dropout, you better get yoursel
Aug 26, 2007 Emma rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone with an interesting in writing (better)
When was the last time you read a book where you could literally say, "This book has changed my life." Eat, Shoots and Leaves by Lynn Truss is one such book.

At first I thought a zero tolerance approach to punctuation sounded a bit extreme. That is until Truss mentioned one of my favorite movies ("Two Weeks Notice"), pointing out that the title should be "Two Weeks' Notice". I was shocked. I had always assumed an apostrophe was there. Then I started listening to The Plain White T's, a band whose
Jan 18, 2011 Rowena rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lovers of the English language, writers
I don't think I "favourite" many non-fiction books but this book was just brilliant! Lynn Truss laments the misuse of our punctuation marks, and the possible future demise of a couple, such as the semi-colon. This book is perfect (or a bit worrying) for grammar and punctuation sticklers. Some of the examples of terrible punctuation use will make you cringe, while others will make you laugh. On top of that, Ms Truss's wit is in a class of its own! There are lots of literary examples of certain wr ...more
Truss' tongue-in-cheek style may not appeal to everyone and I don't agree with her about everything. In particular, "zero tolerance" makes punctuation an end in itself, rather than an aid to meaning, which seems back to front. It also makes no allowance for context and audience.

However, she gave punctuation and grammar a voice, and, however briefly, made people think about language, ambiguity and meaning, which is certainly good. Or it would be, if it didn't fuel the fire in the bellies of extr
Apr 29, 2013 Brad rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thought the idea of a virus that prevents email with improper grammar from being sent was fantastic. The virus ought to be endorsed by all colleges, corporations, and curmudgeons; at least it ought to be stamped with the Trusted Application status once it has been hatched and flown. Of course, that might mean we'll have a great internet dark age when almost everyone will have gone silent. Alas. It's a fun book, I recommend it to everyone.
Feb 08, 2012 Jonathan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this last year and as someone who loves words - and punctuation; it was both amusing and informative, in fact I'm making several purposeful mistakes here as I tell you all about how interesting this book was... Yes I really enjoyed this book: and it's insight into the proper use of punctuation! I learnt many things as you can no doubt see from here.

To be serious I must say that this book was enjoyable first and foremost. Secondly this humorous little volume explored a little of the histo
I have no idea why this book enjoyed the success that it did. It, bored, the pants, off, me frankly.
Aug 19, 2013 julio marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
a snootily superior screed on the importance of proper punctuation misspells the word 'pedants' in the blurb.

let the headdeskery begin.
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Lynne Truss is a writer and journalist who started out as a literary editor with a blue pencil and then got sidetracked. The author of three novels and numerous radio comedy dramas, she spent six years as the television critic of The Times of London, followed by four (rather peculiar) years as a sports columnist for the same newspaper. She won Columnist of the Year for her work for Women's Journal ...more
More about Lynne Truss...

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“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.”
“Thurber was asked by a correspondent: "Why did you have a comma in the sentence, 'After dinner, the men went into the living-room'?" And his answer was probably one of the loveliest things ever said about punctuation. "This particular comma," Thurber explained, "was Ross's way of giving the men time to push back their chairs and stand up.” 81 likes
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