Many a people, even by the end of their undergraduate careers, don't know the difference between a colon and a semi-colon. Punctuation, which is one of the foundations of language, gives language meaning and direction. Lewis Thomas brings this vital ingredient of language to the forefront in the essay "Notes on Punctuation". Studying his use of words to form the tone of the essay, his intended audience and purpose, it becomes more and more evident that the essay be classified as informal. With the use of these aspects of the essay, we will also then decipher the level of success that the author achieved with respect to the attaining of its purpose. .
There are many aspects of an essay, like tone, audience and purpose that help to decipher whether an essay may be informal or formal. In the essay, "Notes on Punctuation, Lewis Thomas" choice of words don't come across as being too complex to comprehend although throughout the essay one may find words that one may not understand. The author achieves this effect by paying careful attention to the words he uses so that the words seem to fit the sentence or thought perfectly. " and the latter case, while we might have more precision and exactitude for our meaning, we would lose the essential flavor of language which is its wonderful ambiguity." (Thomas, 44) Here, although his use of words seems rich, the tone his words set is calm and gentle. His complex words in any other essay could be taken as a sign of formal writing but in this case his subtle, coaxing and befitting words make this essay and message more approachable. The general meaning seems to come across and does not cause any hindrances to the reader. Furthermore, whilst reading, the identity of the author's intended audience becomes clearer. Thomas throughout the essay uses humor to target a younger audience. In the first paragraph of the essay, Thomas pokes fun by stating the importance of punctuation whilst showing no regard for it in the paragraph.