If you think grammar is something you only need in school, you’ll be surprised to find out messing it up can sometimes cost millions of dollars or make a huge difference in your personal life. Misplacing a comma, for instance, can change the meaning of a sentence dramatically. For example, note the difference between “Let’s eat (comma) Granny!” and “Let’s eat Granny!”
In 2017, Oakhurst Dairy, a company from the state of Maine, literally lost millions of bucks because of a misplaced comma. And that was not exactly the only case that proved that grammar actually rules the world.
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Oakhurst Dairy case 0:36
The “Oxford comma” explained 2:04
Court’s decision 3:25
Other interesting cases:
Fruit and plants, 1872 4:25
Son and sons, 2015 5:09
The most expensive typo in history, 1962 6:02
Exotic travels gone rogue, 1988 7:02
The missing “p,” 2007 8:02
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-Truck drivers working for the company claimed they were owed overtime payment, while the company itself disagreed. According to the law, the exemptions were … “storing, packing for shipment or distribution” of perishable foods. A missing comma makes it all a single activity.
-The “Oxford comma” is normally put before “and” or “or” in sentences where there are three or more items listed one after another.
-Each of the five truck drivers that filed the complaint received $50,000, and the rest of them (that’s about 127 people) were owed overtime pay for four years.
-By writing “fruit, plants” instead of “fruit-plants,” the US government basically waived fees for all plants instead of only fruit-bearing ones.
-In 2015, a British family business called Taylor and Sons was listed by the government as facing liquidation instead of Taylor and Son, a completely different company.
-In 1962, the missing hyphen sent the rocket bearing the probe off course and on to a dramatic crash in the Atlantic Ocean.
-In 1988, a travel agency from California decided to list its exotic travel packages in the directory as an advertisement, but Yellow Pages printed it as “erotic travels.”
-An unfortunate seller on eBay put a bottle of 1852 Allsopp’s Arctic Ale with one “p” in Allsopps. The buyer who purchased it resold it for over a half million dollars.
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