Category Archives: About the Grammar Vandal

For the love of God, don’t be afraid of my wrath!

Ever since I started this blog a year and a half ago, people have been afraid to email me.

The comments are often tossed offhand.  “I probably have bad grammar on that email.”  “Wow, I actually said their instead of there in that IM.”

I tell the same thing to my blog readers, my friends and my colleagues:

Do not, under any circumstances, be afraid that I’m going to criticize you!

I don’t nitpick your writing.  I don’t care about that.  Of course, if you write the entire thing without any punctuation, yeah, I’ll notice.

But, seriously: this blog is about advertisements and businesses and professional writing.  In short, writing that should be proofread before being presented to the public.

I care about professionalism.  When Reebok omits a necessary comma in a prominent advertisement, I’m turned off by the brand.  When I call a doctor for the first time and the receptionist at a doctor’s office says, “Was you in a accident?” I look elsewhere.

I value professionalism, and to me, bad grammar represents a lack of professionalism.

In conclusion, don’t be afraid that I’m mocking your writing!  If you’re on this blog, you probably know what you’re doing more than most other people, anyway.

Also — thank you for all the emails!  It’s going to take a long time to go through all of them, but I appreciate them greatly.

Welcome, MSNBC readers!

I was wondering why my blog was going crazy with visits today!

If you haven’t yet heard, I’ve been featured in another piece — “Fastidious Spelling Snobs Pushed Over the Edge” by Diane Mapes on MSNBC.com.

It’s a great feature.  Nice work, Diane!

Welcome, readers.  Enjoy the blog — and if you have any submissions of grammar or spelling errors in your community, feel free to email me at kate.mcculley [at] gmail.com.

If you’re a news organization and would like to contact me for an interview — I’ve done educational grammar consulting and I’ve been featured as the resident grammarian on a few NPR segments — feel free to email me as well.

Thanks for visiting!

A Hiatus is Good

Wow.  There are 48 comments to moderate.

I took a break, and I’m sure you’re aware of that fact.  I needed it.  Sometimes you need time away from something that means a lot to you.

I had a great time off.  I took a wonderful solo trip to Buenos Aires and celebrated the Christmas with my family and New Year’s with my closest friends.  I also blogged regularly at my personal blog, Kate’s Adventures.

But I am back in the best way possible!

Stay tuned…The Grammar Vandal is back, and will be posting regularly.

Thanks for hanging in there!

I just did something crazy.

I just booked a vacation for myself over Thanksgiving.

It’s my first solo vacation.  I’ve been wanting to go on a solo trip for a LONG time.  (I’ve traveled through Europe on my own, at times, but never for a whole vacation.)  Now I finally have the opportunity, with a window of vacation days to use.

Thanks to a site with great deals on flights, I was able to secure an incredible rate to a fantastic destination.

I haven’t been close to this destination.

I haven’t even been to this CONTINENT before.

And I am SO EXCITED, I can barely stand it.  THIS is what I live for!  I want to live a life defined by travel!

I digress.  I know that this is my grammar blog, and not my personal blog.  (Speaking of which, if you’d like to know more about this trip or any of the other random and/or cruisazy events in my life, feel free to visit Kate’s Adventures.)

At any rate, I know that you guys enjoy signs.

And here is a sign from the location of my first solo trip, my Thanksgiving vacation:

Yikes.

Online Dating and Bad Grammar

I know that this entry is probably going to piss a lot of you off, but I’m going to be honest.  And I think it’s relevant.

I’m a member of an online dating site.  (One reader of this blog actually found me on there!)  Personally, I don’t think I’ll have time to go on another date until well after the election, but I keep my profile on there, just in case.

I received an odd message from a guy today.  Here are a few excerpts:

“your in my [list of matches] and what not, I feel somewhat compelled to “accept” you rather then reject you like the previous 15.”

“Anyway, if you like to “drop it like its hot” or “get low” then your in luck cause i do 2 and so far no one has been able to drop it lower then me (Shorty gets quite low)”

“have a good night
oh and if i didn’t mention it, i think your hot

[Name]“

Now –

I’m not going to reject a potential suitor based on poor grammar and/or spelling alone.

I’ve dated my fair share of guys who couldn’t write anything to save their lives.  And some of those relationships were the most significant relationships of my life so far.

But on an online dating site, when a message to somebody serves as the best way to make a good first impression, why would a guy write so badly?

Would you have bad grammar and spelling in a cover letter?  In a resume? Then why would you on a dating site?

I think that a message so full of errors — written by a college graduate (so his profile claims) — shows that he doesn’t care about making a good first impression.  He doesn’t care about taking the time to write “you’re” instead of “your,” among other things.  Come on.  That is the MINIMUM.  Everyone knows the difference.

I wouldn’t have gone out with this guy anyway — he’s not my type.  But this email more than sealed the deal.

I replied to him:

Hi, [Name] –

Thanks for the message.  I don’t think that we would be a good match, but you deserve a reply, and I wish you the best of luck!

Kate

Unleash your fury.  Call me a snob or an asshole.  I don’t care.  But do any of you feel this way?

Hapee Bday Gramer Vandal

How awesome is this?

The Missus of On Common Ground (great blog — check it out!) and the rest of my co-workers surprised me with this cake today.  I was SO not expecting this!  (They also attempted to find a birthday card with a spelling or grammar error on it, and settled for one that read “There’s no place like Paris There’s no place like Paris”.)

It is PERFECT!  Thanks, everyone!  :-)

The Worst Text Message of All Time

Last November, we had a discussion on text messaging and how grammar plays into what you do.  Everyone seems to have a decisive opinion on just how much of a role grammar should play in texting.

For me, personally, I try to be as correct as possible, including capitalization, but I’ll occasionally use an abbreviation like BRB or LOL, and I hate to say this, but when I want to appear “breezy” (as in when I’m talking to a guy I like or something equally pathetic), I’ll leave punctuation off the end.

While I was in Vegas, I twittered everything I did, and since I didn’t have computer access, I did it by texting.

On Sunday night, I sent the worst text message of all time.  It had been a long and crazy night, seeing Cirque du Soleil’s The Beatles LOVE, dinner at the Grand Lux at the Venetian, checking out the Palazzo and the Wynn, dancing at Tryst at the Wynn, going to the after-hours club Drai’s at Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall, and then walking all the way back to T.I., where we stayed, and playing blackjack unil 7:30 AM.

I can’t believe I actually wrote this message.

Here it is, and I am not exaggerating it in any way:

Wait — oh, no!  It deleted a lot of my old ones.  Anyway, the tweets were along the lines of TRYST IS THE BEST MOTHERF—— CLUB TO WHICH I HAVE EVER BEEN, MOTHAF—-!, perfect in their grammar (if using a slang form of spelling!), and then I texted this gem at 4:32 AM:

At local after club Drai’s and nmt paying for a cent because i am the motherfucking afterrclub of vegas

And then this beauty at 5:37 AM:

Dudd. we are sthll up and it is f——  awake.  me officially have left the aeater party at the ip.

I still can’t believe I considered that to be verbally coherent.  We have reached a new low.  There is literally nowhere lower to go.

Also — I would like to wish a very happy birthday to faithful reader furrperson.  I hope your day is fantastic!

I just barely survived Vegas!

I am lucky to be alive after my epic weekend in Vegas.

My friend Alexa already posted some of her pictures, so here’s one of them:

That’s my friend Lisa and me at the Venetian before our night at Tao.

In a nutshell:

It was crazy.  We ate at Isla, Tao, Le Village and the Burger Bar (ironic for me and Lisa, the vegetarians, but they had great veggie burgers!), plus the amazing buffet at TI (Treasure Island), where we stayed.  We partied at Pure, Tao, Tryst and Drai’s.  We saw Cirque du Soleil’s LOVE (the Beatles show) and Chippendales.  We posed inappropriately with nearly every wax statue at Madame Tussaud’s, where I got stuck inside Frank Sinatra for a few minutes.

The clubs were fantastic, especially Tryst (I swear, all you need to do is make fleeting eye contact with a guy with bottle service and he’ll start pouring you a drink before you say anything).  I had VIP contacts for everywhere we went, and our VIP hosts were great, especially our host at Pure, who was such a great guy.

Lisa and I actually met Sherri Shepherd from The View at Chippendales on Sunday!  We got a great pic with her.  I actually told her that her body was bangin’ (which it is — she has lost a ton of weight and looks fantastic).

We also saw Randy Jackson at Tao, where he was celebrating his birthday, and we saw DJ AM at Pure.  We also saw one of the guys from the TBS show My Boys outside the Venetian, but we couldn’t place him at the time, so we just stared and whispered until we found him on IMDB the next day.

I also spent WAY, WAY too much money.  Playing blackjack at 7:30 AM after a night out at Tryst and Drai’s isn’t the smartest idea.

Now I have to go to bed and go to work in a few hours, so I will be back to catch up on everything later!

I’m off to Vegas!

I’m going to Vegas this weekend! I’m so excited because I’ve never been, though I sent my clients at my last job there so often that I feel like I know the city like the back of my hand.

I’m going with my friends Lisa and Alexa, plus Alexa’s boyfriend, Grant. If you read my personal blog, Kate’s Adventures, you’ve likely seen some amusing stories about us, especially Lisa. (Check out the Bar-Hopping category!)

We’re staying at a great resort on the Strip; we’re partying at Body English, Tao and Tryst; we’re seeing Cirque du Soleil’s LOVE and, um, Chippendales; we’re eating some fantastic food and lounging by the pool; and I will be playing Blackjack like crazy, since I’m still on my high from winning $92.50 in six hands at Foxwoods a few months ago!

I plan on Twittering like crazy via phone. If you’re on Twitter, be sure to follow me — my name is AdventurousKate on there. If you’re not, you should join! I was initially apprehensive about joining, but now I’m obsessed with its greatness. Even if you’re not a member, though, you can see my page.

I’ll be back at 12:35 AM on Wednesday morning. And then I’m working the next day.

And then I’m being interviewed by a national publication for a feature on crazy grammarians like us.  I’m taking down another ritzy Boston neighborhood this time!

Have a great weekend (Bostonians: enjoy the Celtics celebrations!), and I’ll be back on Wednesday, hopefully armed with a memory card full of grammatical errors from Sin City.

Until then, check out the Sexy Can I punctuation contest below!

What a crazy week!

My power cord died this week, so I bought a temporary universal cord that I will return to Best Buy within 30 days for a full refund once I get my official Dell cord.  Because I’m using a universal cord, my computer is VERY SLOW.

Combine that with a sudden lack of internet access and I am nearly hysterical.  I called my friend Lisa just to whine over the phone that I didn’t know what to do with myself.  So I watched RENT on FX and sang along absentmindedly as I played Solitaire.

Seriously, what did we do before the internet?

Great picture, huh?  Thanks to Ryan and Andy, both of whom sent me this.

I JUST got the internet back, but it’s a really slow connection from somewhere in the neighborhood.  I hope I’m able to post this tonight.

It’s been a crazy past few weeks, and I have a few announcements.

Most significantly, I quit my job.  My last day is tomorrow.  Those of you who heard my first NPR interview, you probably caught the “Well, actually…I would love to do this for a living, especially since I’m looking for a new job!” at the end of it.  That was back in July.

Job offers did pour in after the interview and the Globe feature, but they were mostly out in the suburbs.  I did a few interviews but turned the jobs down — it’s really important for me to be downtown, especially since I’m moving to the Back Bay, one of Boston’s most famous and upscale neighborhoods, this September.

(Besides that, I realized that I wouldn’t want to be a full-time editor — it would be too isolating for me.  I need to be able to exchange ideas and collaborate while at work.)

I continued searching for jobs in town, got a few more offers, and turned them down as well.  (Not going to lie — a few famous companies, including a major search engine and a presidential candidate’s company, turned me down.)  Nothing quite fit, and I wasn’t going to settle for anything.

And then I was presented with an opportunity by one of my favorite bloggers, the Missus.  We’ve been reading each other’s blogs for several months now (funnily enough, she originally read Kate’s Adventures, not this one!), and when a job popped up at her company, she told me about it.  A few weeks and interviews later, I got the job.

I’d rather not go into specific details, but I will say that the work is really interesting, the industry is huge, I’m a fan of the company’s product, the package is terrific…and it shaves about 15 minutes off my commute!

I start on Monday.  I’m very happy and excited about it.  (I’m also sad to be leaving so many fantastic colleagues at my current job.)

More posts will appear once I get my computer back to normal.  Have a great weekend!

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

I’ve been an avid speller since I was quite young.  Spelling was one of my favorite subjects (besides geography) when I was little, and I was thrilled to be included in the accelerated spelling program from when I was seven years old.

That being said…

I was unable to spell the word “margarita” until I was 17 years old.

The reason?

I grew up in the Boston area.

People mock the Boston accent.  Most people say that I don’t have a Boston accent, but at the same time, they’re expecting to hear Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting.  Even within the region, there are several dialects of the Boston accent.  While my parents and other family members all have thick Boston accents, they’re from the North Shore — mainly Lynn and Revere.

(I often joke that every single member of my family except for my sister and me has spent time growing up in Lynn.  There are very few exceptions.  For background, Lynn was one of the few Boston-area cities allowing abortions, inspiring the rhyme, “Lynn, Lynn, city of sin, you never come out the way you went in, you ask for water, they give you gin…”)

People from Lynn and Revere don’t talk like people from Dorchester and Southie, except that they omit their R’s.  Seriously, you should come to a family gathering of mine.  And when the family members are around, the accent thickens.

(Personally, I live in the city now, but whenever I head home into the suburbs, I think that the accents kick into overdrive.  I always hear much more of a Boston accent among the older crowd on the North Shore than I do among the younger crowd in Boston.)

Therefore, there are three words with which I never enunciate the R: margarita, watermelon and drawer.  Mahgarita, watahmelon and drah.

It’s for this reason that I didn’t know how to spell the word “margarita” until I was 17 years old.

That being said, I hope you had as many mahgaritas as my friend Esther and I did, although we were unable to get into the Cactus Club.  Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Nice editing.

Every year, there is a page in my high school’s yearbook depicting fake or joke clubs.  During my senior year, my three best friends — Lisa, Alexa and Beth — and I, better known to the school and our town as The Brood, decided that we needed to be one of the fake clubs.

We got our picture taken and we were one of the three fake clubs featured on the page (along with the Breakfast Club and the Santarpio’s Club).  We needed a club description, so I volunteered to write it up.

The first two sentences:

“THE BROOD…scared yet?  Consisting of Lisa ‘I’m high on life’ L., Alexa ‘That’s crazy!’ M., Kate ‘Didn’t I meet you at the coed naked lawn-bowling party?’ McCulley and Beth ‘Don’t mess with Texas’ G., the Brood remains the most formidable foursome of fun fearless females in all of Reading High.”

It was perfect.

Was is the key word.  It was perfect until the editors massacred it.

Aside from changing remains to remians and changing individually to indivisually, each an egregious spelling error, they also changed my sentence structure.  The removed the comma after Beth’s last name and considered that to be a full sentence.

Yes, it’s a long sentence — but it’s not a run-on and it’s not grammatically incorrect.  Why change it?

This was probably one of the first times that I felt passionate about grammar.

I was the performing arts editor of my yearbook, a position given to me on a whim by the advisor, one of my all-time favorite teachers.  Although I had a LOT of fun adding pictures of the Brood to the drama club section wherever possible, after seeing the finished product, my heart ached.

I wistfully wished that I had been a copyeditor instead.  Oh, God, if only.

(Another thing they messed up: my family’s message to me became, “Kate, the years have flown by watching you blossom into a scintillating you woman.”  Young.)

I understand that responsibility of the yearbook falls on high school students.

But…not even a spell-check?

Need anything edited?

Call it a blessing in disguise.

I got a flat tire on the highway the other day.  The experience was terrifying, especially considering that I drove on the rim for much further than anyone should have.

I took my car into the shop and found out that in addition to needing a new tire, my shocks are completely worn down and my front bumper is coming apart.

In short, I’m lucky that I got the flat when I did.  It could have been deadly.

But repairing the damage will cost me nearly $500.00.

I have much more than enough saved away to pay for it, but even so…

Do you have anything that needs to be edited?  I will gladly edit for a reasonable price.  I do all kinds of work.  I once even edited a one-page letter to a congregation of a church in Iowa for a few dollars.

Just drop me an email at kate.mcculley [at] gmail.com.  I’ll give you an estimate.

Thanks.  :-)

Bad Translations

I think that by this point in time, we’ve learned not to rely on Google Translate or other online translation aids.  They’re wrong more often than not.  I occasionally use Google Translate at work when I need to speak Spanish or Portuguese to a foreign vendor (I usually don’t need it for French or Italian).

Reader Christina, the German Grammar Vandal, sent me a great sign translated to English from Italian.

In Italian, the same word means pump and bomb.  Additionally, the word spia means spy or control lamp.  You have three guesses as to which words were used:

translation1.jpg

Kind of creepy!

I’d like to share my favorite story of a bad translation.  I hope you enjoy it.  It still makes me blush today.

In my French 4 class in high school, we read La Belle et La Bête, or Beauty and the Beast.  We had to write a paper about it a few days later.

In my paper, I wrote, “Elle voit l’ane de la Bête et elle devient amoureuse.” I thought that I had written, “She sees the Beast’s soul and falls in love with him.”

Well, that’s not quite right. What I should have written was, “Elle voit l’ame de la Bête.”

My paper read, “She sees the Beast’s ass and falls in love with him.”

I have to give Mr. Porter credit — he did nothing but circle the word in red. I turned the same shade of red after realizing what I had written.  I couldn’t look him in the eye for quite some time.

Back in Massachusetts!

I’m back from New Mexico!  Here are a few things that I learned on my trip:

  • White Sands National Monument is unbelievable.  If you visit the state, you must visit this place!  It’s sand — technically, gypsum — but it looks like snow!  Check it out:
  • I noticed that most of the rural landscape looks just like the scenery in No Country for Old Men.  A few days later, I found out that the movie was filmed primarily in New Mexico!
  • If you are a RENT fan, or even if you’re only slightly familiar with the show, you will have the song “Santa Fe” stuck in your head for the duration of your visit.  (It didn’t help that we also stayed at a Holiday Inn, or that it began to snow on our last day…)

I’m glad to return to the blog.  Thanks for your nice emails during my time away!

I also made sure to catch the latest debate.

041.jpg

Yikes.