Category Archives: Grammar Errors

I’m watching this right now:

Does the missing comma bother anyone?
As a grammarian, it bothers me a LOT. After all, this is money that is both dirty and sexy, not sexy money that also happens to be dirty. That necessitates the comma.
As a person, and as someone who technically works in “marketing,” it actually doesn’t bother me as much. Incorrect as it is, it adds a certain boldness to it. BOOM BOOM BOOM. Dirty Sexy Money. The comma would have taken away some of the impact….
….even though it is WRONG to leave it out in the first place!
I’m in a bit of a Jekyll/Hyde mood tonight.
This is a good show.

ATGV: Single or Plural?

Good morning, Kate. I am reviewing a document for a co-worker and need some help with a sentence.

Tailgating, as well as making rude gestures, passing on the shoulder, pulling into a parking space someone else is waiting for, and failing to yield to merging traffic, is considered an example of an aggressive act.

or

Tailgating, as well as making rude gestures, passing on the shoulder, pulling into a parking space someone else is waiting for, and failing to yield to merging traffic, are considered examples of aggressive acts.

Which is correct? I have checked several resources and haven’t found an example that is similar.

Julia

Wow. I’ve been saying these to myself since this afternoon, and they both sound wrong to me.

Perhaps it’s because whenever I use the phrase as well as, I usually have plurals on either side. The Danes as well as the Swedes dwell in countries that I hope to visit extremely soon. It doesn’t sound perfect, but it’s functional.

If I were writing this, Julia, I would strike as well as and change it to in addition to. This would make tailgating the focus of the sentence.

Tailgating, in addition to making rude gestures, passing on the shoulder, pulling into a parking space someone else is waiting for, and failing to yield to merging traffic, is considered an example of an aggressive act.

You know what? I think I like it better with dashes.

Tailgating — in addition to making rude gestures, passing on the shoulder, pulling into a parking space someone else is waiting for, and failing to yield to merging traffic — is considered an example of an aggressive act.

There we go.

Gripe of the Day

While in Starbucks today, I came across the following album:As if country music didn’t have enough grammatical errors already.

I bet this album was marketed by the same people who did the “RUN EASY BOSTON” Reebok ads.

Amusing Courtroom Transcripts

I got these from this site. There’s some great stuff!

From actual courtroom transcripts:

–And lastly, Gary, all your responses must be oral, okay? What school do you go to?
–Oral.
–How old are you?
–Oral.

–Were you present in court this morning when you were sworn in?

–She had three children, right?
–Yes.
–How many were boys?
–None.
–Were there girls?

–So you were gone until you returned?

–The youngest son, the 20-year-old, how old is he?

–I show you exhibit 3 and ask you if you recognize that picture.
–That’s me.
–Were you present when that picture was taken?

Luck of the Irish

Is that all there is?

Happy “Halfway to St. Paddy’s Day,” everyone! If you’re in Boston, there’s a big party at McFadden’s tomorrow night. I’ll either be there or down the street at the Hong Kong.

Prepay First

From reader Nora:

I was horrified as I got gas at the Irving station in Amesbury today…

After I prepay inside first, I’m going to find my keys and stop looking for them. Then I’ll Google my crushes on the Internet.
You have no idea how hard it is to write something intentionally redundant.

Taser — capitalize it!

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A University of Florida student was Tasered and arrested Monday when he attempted to speak at a forum with U.S. Sen. John Kerry during a question and answer session, university officials said….

….While as many as four police officers tried to remove Meyer from the forum, he yelled for help and asked “What did I do?” Minutes after Meyer started speaking, he was Tasered.

Source

Until tonight, I did not know that it was necessary to capitalize the word Taser.

(For the record, I only went on Fox News because it’s the only news outlet reporting that Britney is going to lose custody of her kids tomorrow.)

There are so many words that we say all the time and often don’t realize need to be capitalized — like Band-Aids, for example. In fact, there was recently a lawsuit over the use of the term “Flexi-Wings” on feminine products. It turns out it’s trademarked, like many other seemingly innocuous phrases (including GRAMMAR VANDAL).

It turns out that Taser is not merely a type of weapon, as I believed, but a specific trademarked weapon that must be capitalized at all times. I can understand that for a noun, but when it’s being used as a verb, it just looks strange!

As for the content of the story itself, I’m shocked that it had to come to Tasering an unarmed person, and I have the feeling that the whole story isn’t being reported. (It never said that he attacked any of the officers or did anything more than refusing to stop speaking, though it did say he was charged with resisting arrest.) Why couldn’t they have just cuffed him or even slammed him to the ground?

Still evolving!

This reminds me of the episode of Pinky and the Brain when Brain goes on Jeopardy and they keep calling him Brian.

If you begin the article, you’ll realize that the headline, in fact, should read, “Human brain still evolving, scientists say.” There were several scientists in the study!

Miss Conduct on Correcting Grammar

I’m a huge fan of Miss Conduct, a Cambridge-based psychologist who writes an etiquette column in the Boston Globe Magazine each week. She’s much more realistic than Miss Manners (whom I believe tries too hard to be concisely witty, thus often shortchanging her readers). I was looking through the archives and came across this gem from the August 5th issue:

Recently I was talking with a friend about another friend’s sickness and said I felt “badly” for my sick friend’s family. The friend I was conversing with interrupted me and said I should have said I felt “bad” for the family. I don’t dispute my grammar slip, but was it rude of my friend to interject an admonishment about my grammar in the middle of such a serious conversation? I’ve often wondered what the etiquette is for correcting others’ grammar. I feel that it is rude to do this, but I know many people who seem to believe it is not only appropriate, but their duty.
E.R. in Stoneham

And they’re wrong. The etiquette for correcting another person’s grammar is that you don’t, not unless you have blanket permission and a compelling reason to do so. Even then, never interrupt a train of thought or a serious conversation. The English language has been around for 600 years in its present form, give or take a century, depending on which linguistic historian you ask, and is the dominant language worldwide for business, science, and politics. It is, in short, sturdier than the average friendship and in need of less coddling.

Some people correct others’ grammar more out of unthinking habit than out of a deep protective instinct toward the mother tongue. It’s a verbal tic with them, as swearing or automatically making wisecracks is for other people. As with these other peccadilloes, ignore it if it doesn’t bother you, and if it does, gently register an objection.

The most interesting part about this piece, I find, is that badly, in fact, is the correct term. E.R. was grammatically correct when she said that she felt badly. That reminds me of people who overuse “and I” when they should be saying “and me” half the time!

I agree with Miss Conduct that it’s not worth sweating the small stuff when it comes to an issue like this, and correcting grammar is a peccadillo much like swearing for someone else.

When she mentions that the language is sturdy and needs to coddling, it can be argued that Miss Conduct thinks that one can get away with improper grammar as long as the point gets across. Personally, I don’t think that’s what she meant.

My own opinion is that if it’s personal conversation, to let it slide. I don’t use perfect grammar in my speech at all times. However, if this is professional writing, writing that was examined in depth, writing that could have easily been edited, you have a right to complain about it!

VMA Errors

The VMAs (not the VMA’s) just took place, and already, there are several news stories full of errors about the awards show.

From cnn.com:


To that end, Justin Timberlake and Timbaland, Kanye West, Fall Out Boy and the Foo Fighters were each hosting four separate suite parties, where much of the show’s performances would be held.

The Grammar Vandal says that there were many. Many.


That might have been the purpose — to whet the audiences appetite for repeat viewings by promising glimpses of what they missed during the traditional broadcast.

The audience’s appetite. Please use that wonderful apostrophe.

From people.com:

“Was that incredible? Britney Spears, everyone,” Silverman said. “Wow. She is amazing. She is 25-years-old and she’s already accomplished everything she’s going to accomplish in her life. It’s mind blowing.”

At 25 years old, Britney is a 25-year-old. Sarah Silverman’s mind was blown by the mind-blowing accomplishments of Britney Spears.

Come on. I know that the awards show JUST happened, and it was live TV, but come ON! Accuracy isn’t that difficult!

PWNED by T-Shirt Hell!

First of all, their response is fantastic.
Secondly, I recently learned what the phrase pwned means. Apparently, it’s another word for owned, as in beating someone, or calling someone out.
It originated with gamers. The O key is next to the P key, so the phrase owned, which victors typed at the losers, was frequently written as pwned by mistake. However, the gamers embraced it, and it stuck.
Today, the phrase is quite popular, making appearances on apparel and on TV and other forms of entertainment.
What’s interesting is that this phrase began as written, not as spoken. Because of that, it doesn’t have an official pronunciation. Some people say “poned” while others say “pooned,” “punned” or something else entirely.
With the growth of technology, I wouldn’t be surprised if more words, like pwned, are coined over the Internet.

"I couldn’t care less." CORRECT!

It seems like people say I could care less, meaning that they couldn’t care less. This is incorrect. The phrase has become so common, it’s as if people have changed it without realizing exactly what they’re saying.

This handy graph shows exactly why the phrase should be I couldn’t care less, rather than I could care less.
Well said.

I couldn’t care less about a number of things. (Sports, in particular, come to mind.)

I couldn’t care more about spreading the cause of good grammar!
In other news, blogger now allows you to post video, so I plan to put on some video coverage of vandalizing grammar very soon!