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She Didn’t Hear My Comma

The other night while I was flying from Orlando, Florida, to Seattle, I was reminded of the valuable role the comma plays.

The flight attendant was taking drink orders. When I asked for water, she asked, “No ice?”

I responded, “No, ice will be fine.”

She must have heard “No ice will be fine,” because I got plain water.

Since she didn’t hear my comma, I tried again with the direct “I’d like ice please.” I succeeded.

Time passes more quickly when long flights are punctuated with such dramas. Let’s hear it for the comma!



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By Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston has helped thousands of employees and managers improve their business writing skills and confidence through her company, Syntax Training. In her corporate training career of more than 20 years, she has worked with executives, engineers, scientists, sales staff, and many other professionals, helping them get their messages across with clarity and tact.

A gifted teacher, Lynn has led writing classes at more than 100 companies and organizations such as MasterCard, Microsoft, Boeing, Nintendo, REI, AARP, Ledcor, and Kaiser Permanente. Near her home in Seattle, Washington, she has taught managerial communications in the MBA programs of the University of Washington and UW Bothell. She has created a communications course, Business Writing That Builds Relationships, and provides the curriculum at no cost to college instructors.

A recognized expert in business writing etiquette, Lynn has been quoted in "The Wall Street Journal," "The Atlantic," "Vanity Fair," and other media.

Lynn sharpened her business writing skills at the University of Notre Dame, where she earned a master's degree in communication, and at Bradley University, with a bachelor's degree in English.

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