The $40 Million Comma

Punctuation matters—and sometimes it matters a lot. Take the case where the single comma in the 1872 U.S. Tariff Act ended up costing the U.S. Government $40 million. It was a comma that changed the purpose of the Act.
We’ve all complained about having to abide by sometimes seemingly unimportant grammar rules, but in the end, the rules—though not always consistent—are there to direct brain traffic: to pair ideas, introduce breaths and indicate stops—all of which are important to accurately conveying meaning.
So today we celebrate our copy editors, who help us avoid costly mistakes and embarrassing moments.