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Category Archives: Grammar Errors
I was reading about this book on CNN.com today, and at first I thought there was a typo when they mentioned the title. Is “Commonsense” a word? (For the record, other than that word, I think the title’s hilarious!)
I’m not sure if it’s correct, because I’ve never seen it in professional writing as one word. It could be antiquated, along with “covenantbreakers” and “lovingkindnesses” and all those other long words in the Bible.
Unless Commonsense is a brand name.
Okay. It appears to be a brand name — it’s a series of how-to books. Because of that, I won’t go after them. It’s creative license.
Of course, if I were creating a brand name, I would use the correct spelling and grammar, but that’s just me.
ALSO: I’m watching I Love New York as I type this, and the following sentence appeared on the screen: FYI: Mr. Boston is an accountant not a chef. Yikes….
I saw this sign the other day:
This sign invites you to meet “Medford.” Now, why is it necessary to use those quotes?
I imagine that “Medford” had a normal life — a job, a spouse, a family and a white picked fence. He also had a normal name, like John or Paul.
That all changed the day he witnessed a heinous crime.
No. That all day he decided to do what every single movie tells you not to do and GOT INVOLVED WITH THE MOB!
John/Paul was removed from his normal life, along with his family, and became “Medford.”
That’s how I interpret this ad.
My friend Andy’s aunt and uncle recently celebrated their fiftieth and sixtieth birthdays, respectively. Their children decorated their lawn with plenty of signs mocking their milestones. Check them out:
I don’t even know where to begin!
I honestly don’t know where to begin!
Current headline on CNN.com:
Surgery for girl with eight limbs is going smoothly doctors say
Just a typo on an online news site?
Or is it representative of a growing laziness in proofreading?
It’s been up there for more than an hour, and nobody has done anything….
Today was the day of the Red Sox victory parade through Boston. (Predictably, a ton of my co-workers called out. I worked. Sadly, my only experience with the parade was with the insane commute to work and drunken commute home.)
Reader Greg sent me this image. I’ve covered the topic enough times, but it’s timely and appropriate.
My landlords, Rona and Dennis, are two of my blog’s biggest fans. Knowing that the Grammar Vandal is living right upstairs, they prepared their signs in advance.
There is now a very creepy-looking scarecrow lounging in a chair on our porch. Every time I walk up the stairs, I freak out a little bit, then realize that it’s not an actual person, and I walk on.
Check out his sign:
LOVE IT. LOVE IT. LOVE IT.
Never, ever use quotes where they don’t belong! Though, to be honest, I think I was a “trick or treater” myself during high school. I dressed up and went trolling for candy up until I was 17 years old. That’s too old — so if trick or treaters must be young, that would be a good reason to add the quotes.
Now, trick or treaters….hyphenated or not? I’m thinking that hyphens should be used.
Either way, excellent work on the sign.
Thanks, Rona and Dennis!
After the discussion regarding Bill Cosby’s new book, Come On People, it turns out that you and I weren’t the only ones appalled (and disgusted) by the title.
Reader Brad sent me the following story from the Boston Globe:
COME ON, COS: Newspaper slotman and style maven Bill Walsh has a beef with Bill Cosby. “So Much for That Ed.D.,” he headlines his blog post on the title of Cosby’s new book, “Come On People.” Apparently the author, despite his graduate degree, “never learned about the comma of direct address,” Walsh writes (at theslot.blogspot.com); it really should be “Come On, People.”
Such minor goofs, some of them mistakes and others misguided design choices, are common enough in titles. Remember “The 40 Year-Old Virgin” and its missing hyphen? The short-lived sitcom “‘Til Death,” with its reversed apostrophe? And then there was “Two Weeks Notice,” the title that spurred punctuation stickler Lynne Truss to tote a felt-tip marker around town, correcting posters wherever she could.
Editors often fix these little glitches when the titles appear in print, either to follow “house style” or because alternative versions are circulating, so when I saw Cosby’s title in The New York Times last week, it had the requisite comma. For me, there was a different puzzle, one embedded in a Cosby witticism quoted by columnist Bob Herbert: “‘A word to the wise ain’t necessary,’ Mr. Cosby likes to say. ‘It’s the stupid ones who need the advice.”‘
Cosby is riffing, of course, on “A word to the wise is sufficient,” itself a translation of the Latin “verbum sapienti sat est.” When the maxim was better known, it was often shortened to verb. sap. or verb. sat. In English, too, it often appears in truncated form: “a word to the wise,” introducing a bit of advice, implies that the smart listener will take heed.
But here’s what’s weird: Cosby phrases his joke as if he were contradicting the original saying, when in fact he’s echoing it. “A word to the wise” doesn’t mean “ignore the dopes.” It means “a hint is enough for a smart person; it’s the stupid ones who need it spelled out.”
As sins against literacy go, these are surely small ones. But given his shape-up message, you’d think Cosby might be minding his maxims and tracking his commas more carefully.
Ryan: What I really want — honestly, Michael — is for you to know it so you can communicate it to the people here, to your clients, to whomever.
Michael: Oh, okay…
Michael: It’s whoever, not whomever.
Ryan: No, it’s whomever…
Michael: No…whomever is never actually right.
Jim: Well, sometimes it’s right.
Creed: Michael is right. It’s a made-up word used to trick students.
Andy: No. Actually, whomever is the formal version of the word.
Oscar: Obviously, it’s a real word, but I don’t know when to use it correctly.
Michael (to the camera): Not a native speaker.
Kevin: I know what’s right, but I’m not gonna say because you’re all jerks who didn’t come see my band last night.
Ryan: Do you really know which one is correct?
Kevin: I don’t know.
Pam: It’s whom when it’s the object of the sentence and who when it’s the subject.
Phyllis: That sounds right.
Michael: Well, it sounds right, but is it?
Stanley: How did Ryan use it, as an object?
Ryan: As an object…
Kelly: Ryan used me as an object.
Stanley: Is he right about that?
Pam: How did he use it again?
Toby: It was…Ryan wanted Michael, the subject, to, uh explain the computer system, the subject–
Toby: –to whomever, meaning us, the indirect object…which is the correct usage of the word.
Michael: No one asked you anything, ever, so whomever’s name is Toby, why don’t you take a letter opener and stick it into your skull?
Thanks to Jess and everyone who told me I had to post this. I’ll be watching the actual episode later today.
Back when my blog was in its nascent stage, even before I made it public, I took pictures of errors at Six Flags New England and posted them on here. (There were quite a few, and I guarantee it wasn’t creative advertising.) My friend Holly went to Six Flags on Sunday for Fright Fest, and she took a picture of an interesting gravestone:
Wow. Maybe one of the art directors decided to let his little nephew stencil a few gravestones and accidentally got them into the mix.
I just can’t get over the fact that not only is it wrong, but it alternatively uses both “you’re” and “your” to mean the contraction “you’re.”
I don’t think that the intention was to have it be wrong on purpose — every other gravestone is correct. Besides, if they meant for it to look wrong, wouldn’t they have done more things — mixed up words, spelled words incorrectly, written letters backwards — to make it look even worse?
Scientists have been saying it since the park opened, and I guess it’s true: riding Superman really does kill your brain cells. (For the record, I didn’t go on it for that very reason. I’ll fly through the Swiss Alps while strapped to a parachute, but I won’t go on a brain-damaging roller coaster like that.)
Blogger has been a bit strange over the past few days, and I currently cannot post pictures.
Instead, here is something that’s been bothering me for a while.
I do a lot of work in Vegas, and it always drives me crazy whenever I send someone to Celine Dion or PURE Nightclub. Why? Because I inevitably have to type “Caesars Palace!”
There is no apostrophe.
It just hurts me to look at that!
I did a bit of digging, and I came across something that I didn’t expect:
Originally named Cabana Palace, then Desert Palace, the hotel officially opened its doors as Caesars Palace in 1966. The name change and design were decided upon to create a world where everyone could be treated as an emperor, a palace for all Caesars – hence no apostrophe in the name.
Well, it this is the place for all Caesars, then shouldn’t it be Caesars’ Palace?
Or even Caesar Palace?
The first option would have been perfect; the second, mediocre but passable. And yet these Vegas executives chose to use the one incorrect form.
Not only that, but it seems like Emperors’ Palace is the name that they should have had. Caesar (and his progeny) were people who just happened to have the name Caesar, and who also happened to be emperors.
Their goal was for everyone to be an emperor, not for everyone to be Caesar!
This isn’t it. Another one that bothers me is Surfers Paradise, a beach resort in Queensland, Australia. It’s the same deal as Caesars Palace — they could have used an apostrophe, but no!
There’s another one, but I can’t think of it. Can you think of any others?
Sometimes I disgust myself.
That being said, this book reminds me of the sign that began my foray into grammar vandalism: “RUN EASY BOSTON.”
Thanks, Bike Cop.
Some discussion was had over the response Eric Jay posted on my last entry:
I’ve got several friends (and two immediate family members) who work in advertising and marketing. Most of them went to well-respected universities, and several hold degrees in both fine arts and business.
According to the two I spoke with about this entry, using words outside of their grammatically correct context is part of their art form. They each showed me examples from their own portfolios, pointing out words or punctuation that would have been different if they were writing a letter or article. In each case, there was an explanation of how the “incorrect” usage fit the project at hand.
They suspected whoever designed the LNT sign knows the grammatical difference between “every day” and “everyday,” and made the choice to use the “wrong” word in an effort to utilize both meanings in just 3 words: (1) You can find low prices here every day. (2) At LNT, low prices are an everyday occurrence.
They also both interpreted the Staples piece to be an imperative first, and a clever play on the phrase “picture perfect” second.
This blows my mind.
I’m not mad at Eric Jay — he’s one of my favorite readers. My beef, as usual, is with the marketing people. If this is true, what gives them the right to change the rules of grammar, to fill their signs with errors for the sake of subliminal advertising?
It would be different if it were a homophone with two very different meanings. If an ad for a fragrance said, “Good knight,” and had a sexy knight in shining armor (preferably shirtless and glistening with sweat, and curly hair, kind of wild, and just a bit of stubble, and amazing, well-developed arms….I’m sorry….grammar?), that would be more than okay.
We, grammarians of the world, have too much trying to drag us down — apathy toward the English language, internet-speak, poor grammar education, a quickly evolving language that works against us more often than for us. Now we have something else: marketing executives trying to play educator.
STOP IT NOW.
Thanks, Eric Jay, for bringing my attention to this lunacy. (As for the gym teachers’ college comment….yeah, not the best taste. It was a line from Salute Your Shorts. I guess the humor didn’t quite transfer.)
I went up to Reading, my hometown, to see my Mom tonight, and we stopped at Linens-N-Things and Staples. I (finally) had a pen in my purse, so I corrected a few grammatical errors:
These everyday signs were all over the store. It hurts. It really hurts.
You could make an argument for this one, saying that the sign was telling you to picture perfect holidays. I don’t think that was the intention of the Staples marketing team — I think they wanted you to have picture-perfect holidays.
Come on! You are both obviously big chains — get an editor who didn’t go to gym teachers’ college!