Punctuation does matter. Try adding the correct punctuation to the following string of words:
Woman without her man is useless.
If you didn't come up with "Woman! Without her, man is useless," a delegation from NOW is heading your way.
Most of you are not to blame for your pathetic punctuation skills. They are not your fault. You are all victims of society's neglect. The people I blame for most of the horrors I have to correct at the college level are not the few underpaid and overworked saints but the incompetent high school English teachers. Maybe they are not to blame either. Maybe they are the victims of some larger social trends that downplay the teaching of grammar in favor of empowerment and self-esteem. I treasure a memo passed around my department some years back in which we were encouraged to grade in blue or green instead of red because red was such an angry color. A friend of mine who has since left the profession was not allowed to teach grammar in his Fairfax, Virginia, high school English classes. Grammar, he was told, is organic; the students learn it by osmosis while reading great literature. When osmosis failed to take, he tried setting up an extracurricular grammar program outside of class for those who needed help. The superintendent of schools, no less, made him stop.