Writing is a bit like alchemy. You take a bunch of separate elements—like grammar, style, flow, passion, creativity, story, characters, twists, and turns—and you mix them together to get the result that you want. Sometimes, your experiments pay off and you communicate your innermost ideas to your readers. Other times, you mess up and accidentally write hilarious things without meaning to.
And, boy, do people make funny blunders often! It usually has something to do with a lack of understanding of how things like the elements of punctuation work. For example, some individuals find it hard to grasp how quotation marks should be used. And when they mess up, we’re left with suspiciously-sounding sentences and unintended double entendres.
We collected some of the best such examples from the ‘“Suspiciously” Used Quotation Marks’ subreddit, so scroll down, enjoy, check out our interview with one of the community’s managers, and upvote your fave sentences. Be sure to let us know which ones made you laugh the hardest!
Bored Panda spoke with Searchlights, one of the moderators for the ‘”Suspiciously” Used Quotation Marks’ community on Reddit. We wanted to find out more about the subreddit, as well as why people misuse quotation marks.
“Misused quotation marks are something I’ve often noticed in daily life, and after seeing some caught-in-the-wild examples posted to subreddits like r/funny I got to thinking that it’s an example of absurdity that is prevalent enough to have its own subreddit,” Searchlights said about the founding of the community. “The challenges I’ve had in growing the subreddit has largely been a matter of time. The sub gains 10 to 15 subscribers per day organically, but on days when a post makes the front page I’ll see an influx of hundreds or thousands of new subscribers. That usually happens a half a dozen times a year.”
“The persistent problem with the subreddit is quality control. There are a lot of submissions that are redundant or that people just don’t find to be funny.”
That Is Unsettling
Bored Panda was interested to figure out why so many people find it hard to grasp how quotation marks should be used. Here’s what Searchlights had to say: “I tend to think it’s related to the challenge of finding nuance and tone in text. People want to emphasize a word, and for whatever reason they think putting it in quotations gets them there.”
“Generally, the use of quotation marks (when they’re not an actual quotation) carries a connotation of sarcasm, or of a tongue-in-cheek admission that the thing in quotes isn’t actually what it’s said to be. That’s what has the effect of making the statement suspicious,” they explained. “My favorite examples usually come from the food service industry. There’s something alarming about chicken being written dubiously as “chicken” (what is it, really?)”
My Husband Was Given This Notepad At His New Job. Most Discouraging Use Of Quotation Marks
According to the Macmillan Dictionary Blog, there are some very good reasons why people misuse quotes. Usually, quotation marks (aka inverted commas) are used for quotations (wow, what a shocker!), to denote the title of a book or movie or some unfamiliar words.
What’s more, we use quotation marks to show that we’re using a word with irony or to demonstrate our skepticism. After all, if you call someone a writer in your article, it’s a compliment; on the other hand, calling them a “writer” would be an insult! The Oxford Manual of Style calls these ‘scare quotes’ and explains that writers use them to distance themselves from the words in question.
Now, here’s the (geeky) fun part: whereas some people stress a certain word by bolding it, underlining it or writing it in italics, certain individuals do this by putting quotation marks around them. And that’s wrong. Because most other people know that using inverted commas this way opens up the door to hidden meanings, sarcasm, and moral judgments.
But quotation marks aren’t the only abused part of punctuation. Commas have it hard, too, you guys. In fact, they get so upset when they get ignored that they completely change the meanings of some sentences out of revenge.
Look at the sentence “Let’s go get a little Italian, baby,” courtesy of Your Dictionary. It’s clear that the speaker’s suggesting to their partner that they should go out for Italian food. But! Remove the comma and the sentence changes! Now, the speaker’s suggesting to their partner that they go find a small child from Italy. Whoops!
So remember, Pandas, write Fresh Fish instead of “Fresh” Fish and I Love That Dress, Sweetheart instead of I “Love” That Dress, Sweetheart. Unless you want to lose customers or get into an argument with your spouse, that is. And remember to put commas where they’re supposed to go.
Don’t Know How I Feel About This “Plastic Surgeon”
I Don’t Think I’ve Ever Been More Intimidated By A Piece Of Mail
I Don’t Know If I Want To Visit This So-Called “Church” Of Yours
Uh, What Kinda Teacher Again?
Of Course. I Mean, What Else Would You Even Put In There
I Always Buy My “Candy” At My Local Bowling Alley
Stop Mom! Free “Face Painting”
Rightfully Suspicious Quotes
“Nothing” In Car
A What Now
“If” You Catch My Drift
“Specialized In Various Specialties”
A Not So Happy New Year
This Ambulance Scares Me