Category Archives: Grammar Excellence

This is BEAUTIFUL.

I saw this on Ticketmaster the other day, and it made me delirious with happiness.

The Final Year
Fewer than 50 performances left! Don’t miss Celine Dion in Vegas!
Beautiful.
BEAUTIFUL.
In a land where virtually every grocery store seems to have a lane for “12 items or LESS,” it’s a rare treat to see the word fewer used correctly.
Ticketmaster, I applaud you!
Now, if only the Brood can get to Vegas before Celine’s show ends….

The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation

After my interview on NPR, I received a message from Jane Straus, a popular grammar writer and author of The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation. I hadn’t heard of the book before, but I was so glad to learn about it!

The book is excellent. It’s part tutorial and part workbook. The rules are explained really well and the voice is lovely. I’ve got a copy of my own!

Jane has a great grammar Web site, grammarbook.com. She features much content from the book, in addition to grammar quizzes, Youtubes and a blog of her own.

If there’s anything in particular that you should check out on the site, it’s the newsletter. I highly recommend subscribing.

Also, the next edition will feature an endorsement from me on the back cover!

Check it out. I’m so glad that I met Jane. She’s my Californian counterpart, and she knows her stuff!

This guy RULES!

As I was walking home from work today, I came across the farmers’ market in Davis Square. The event had ended, and people were packing up their booths.

I walked down Day Street, taking the slightly longer route home, and I came across a guy picking up all the signs.

I smiled at the signs — they read Farmers’ Market Today. There are plenty of farmers’ markets throughout the U.S., especially during the summer, but people hardly ever have an apostrophe, let alone an apostrophe in the right place!

I saw the guy, silly hat and all, and KNEW that I had to immortalize him.

“Hi. I was wondering if you could do me a favor,” I said as I approached him.

“Sure,” he replied. “What is it?”

“Well, you see, I write a grammar blog. http://www.thegrammarvandal.com/. I take pictures of grammar–“

“Oh, yeah. I heard something about that blog,” he said. “There was an article in the paper, right?”

I WANT TO EMBRACE THIS MAN.

“Yes!” I said, beaming. “Nobody has said that to me yet! I was on NPR on Monday, too. You have to visit it! I saw the signs, and the grammar is so wonderful, I’d like to put it on the blog! Here, you can hold it. I love your hat.”

“I don’t know. I wasn’t the one who wrote the sign. I feel I shouldn’t take credit for it.”

“Yes, you can!” I cried. “You are an aficionado of good grammar! You should pose with the sign! It will be perfect.”

“Okay, if you say so,” he agreed.

Location: Day Street, Somerville/Cambridge line, MA

Thanks, Guy In Hat. You RULE!

This guy RULES!

As I was walking home from work today, I came across the farmers’ market in Davis Square. The event had ended, and people were packing up their booths.

I walked down Day Street, taking the slightly longer route home, and I came across a guy picking up all the signs.

I smiled at the signs — they read Farmers’ Market Today. There are plenty of farmers’ markets throughout the U.S., especially during the summer, but people hardly ever have an apostrophe, let alone an apostrophe in the right place!

I saw the guy, silly hat and all, and KNEW that I had to immortalize him.

“Hi. I was wondering if you could do me a favor,” I said as I approached him.

“Sure,” he replied. “What is it?”

“Well, you see, I write a grammar blog. http://www.thegrammarvandal.com/. I take pictures of grammar–“

“Oh, yeah. I heard something about that blog,” he said. “There was an article in the paper, right?”

I WANT TO EMBRACE THIS MAN.

“Yes!” I said, beaming. “Nobody has said that to me yet! I was on NPR on Monday, too. You have to visit it! I saw the signs, and the grammar is so wonderful, I’d like to put it on the blog! Here, you can hold it. I love your hat.”

“I don’t know. I wasn’t the one who wrote the sign. I feel I shouldn’t take credit for it.”

“Yes, you can!” I cried. “You are an aficionado of good grammar! You should pose with the sign! It will be perfect.”

“Okay, if you say so,” he agreed.

Location: Day Street, Somerville/Cambridge line, MA

Thanks, Guy In Hat. You RULE!

All Right vs. Alright — Part II

I spent last night enjoying the Harry Potter festivities in “Hogwarts Square” (Harvard Square), including a great concert by Harry and the Potters. I went with my sister, and despite not camping out all day, we got a spot right at the front of the line. We had our books in hand (only $22.01 including tax at the Coop — the cheapest I’ve seen) and were walking out of the store by 12:17.

Even so, I was a bit too tired to post last night.

A coworker, Spence, sent the following piece to me yesterday, telling me that it would provide great material for the all right vs. alright debate. It was written by Robert C. McGill, the resident “Grammar Maven” at Random House. You can check it out here.

This is a great piece because it has so much historical context and because the author is neutral. He makes a great point: language is continuing to evolve, and at this point in time, there is no truly official rule that states that alright should be stricken from the record permanently. All we can do is explore the debate further.

Here it is:

The other day my wife was composing an email message and used the word “alright.” The spell checker flagged it and she asked me why. I told her (because it was what I had learned in high school forty years ago) that it is wrong; that she should use “all right.” Since then, I looked it up in a dictionary and discovered that “alright” is…all right. When did this happen? Was my teacher (gasp!) wrong? And what about my spell checker? Enlighten me, please.

The spelling of all right–or more appropriately the spelling of alright, since the former is never questioned–is one of the Great Usage Debates of recent times.

Forms like all right, in whatever spelling, were around in the Middle English period, and then died out for no obvious reason. They reappeared in the early eighteenth century; it is uncertain whether all right was a re-coinage, or whether we just have no written evidence for four hundred years.

In modern times, the form alright is first found in the 1890s. Presumably, it was created and/or popularized based on analogy with such words as already and altogether. These spellings, though, had been long established by that time, while alright, being newer, could be criticized. And criticized it was, from the early 1900s onwards.

Usage writers and copy editors (and schoolteachers) tend to really, really hate alright. Some of the comments one can collect from them are “horrendous,” “ignorant,” “illiterate,” “over my dead body,” “lazy,” and the like. This hostility has not changed much in recent years, despite the ever-increasng frequency of the form.

It has always been true that the form alright has been more common in non-formal contexts. But it has also been used for the better part of the century by undoubtedly notable writers. Theodore Dreiser used it through the manuscript for The “Genius”, though H.L. Mencken made him change it to all right. Other alright users include James Joyce in Ulysses, Flannery O’Connor, Mordecai Richler, Langston Hughes, and Gertrude Stein.

While in general, alright can be found in all the senses of all right, in practice there can be a real semantic distinction between the two, because the two word form all right can mean ‘all correct’ or something like that, while alright can only mean ‘good; safe; healthy’, etc. when used as an adjective. (Similar distinctions are found with already and all ready, though these forms have diverged to the point where they are not interchangable at all.) Thus the sentence “The Kids Aren’t All Right” can mean ‘not all the kids are right’, or ‘some of the kids are wrong’, while “The Kids Aren’t Alright” can only mean ‘the kids are not OK’.

This sentence is not theoretical; it appeared as the cover line in New York magazine in 1995, which occasioned such an outburst of criticism that the magazine felt obliged to run an explanation several issues later. Their main points were that alright was a clear allusion to the song “The Kids Are Alright,” by The Who, and the clarity issue mentioned above. Their explanation probably did little to satisfy the many outraged English teachers who called their offices.

The current status of alright is hard to assess. It is very common even in edited writing–some studies have suggested that it is more common, which seems unlikely. Many people and many periodicals use it regularly. Yet it is still loudly condemned (your spell checker, like most, is designed to reject anything that’s even slightly problematic). Depending on your linguistic philosophy, it is either an outright error that is distressingly widespread, or a perfectly standard usage that is unnecessarily condemned.

All Right vs. Alright — Part II

I spent last night enjoying the Harry Potter festivities in “Hogwarts Square” (Harvard Square), including a great concert by Harry and the Potters. I went with my sister, and despite not camping out all day, we got a spot right at the front of the line. We had our books in hand (only $22.01 including tax at the Coop — the cheapest I’ve seen) and were walking out of the store by 12:17.

Even so, I was a bit too tired to post last night.

A coworker, Spence, sent the following piece to me yesterday, telling me that it would provide great material for the all right vs. alright debate. It was written by Robert C. McGill, the resident “Grammar Maven” at Random House. You can check it out here.

This is a great piece because it has so much historical context and because the author is neutral. He makes a great point: language is continuing to evolve, and at this point in time, there is no truly official rule that states that alright should be stricken from the record permanently. All we can do is explore the debate further.

Here it is:

The other day my wife was composing an email message and used the word “alright.” The spell checker flagged it and she asked me why. I told her (because it was what I had learned in high school forty years ago) that it is wrong; that she should use “all right.” Since then, I looked it up in a dictionary and discovered that “alright” is…all right. When did this happen? Was my teacher (gasp!) wrong? And what about my spell checker? Enlighten me, please.

The spelling of all right–or more appropriately the spelling of alright, since the former is never questioned–is one of the Great Usage Debates of recent times.

Forms like all right, in whatever spelling, were around in the Middle English period, and then died out for no obvious reason. They reappeared in the early eighteenth century; it is uncertain whether all right was a re-coinage, or whether we just have no written evidence for four hundred years.

In modern times, the form alright is first found in the 1890s. Presumably, it was created and/or popularized based on analogy with such words as already and altogether. These spellings, though, had been long established by that time, while alright, being newer, could be criticized. And criticized it was, from the early 1900s onwards.

Usage writers and copy editors (and schoolteachers) tend to really, really hate alright. Some of the comments one can collect from them are “horrendous,” “ignorant,” “illiterate,” “over my dead body,” “lazy,” and the like. This hostility has not changed much in recent years, despite the ever-increasng frequency of the form.

It has always been true that the form alright has been more common in non-formal contexts. But it has also been used for the better part of the century by undoubtedly notable writers. Theodore Dreiser used it through the manuscript for The “Genius”, though H.L. Mencken made him change it to all right. Other alright users include James Joyce in Ulysses, Flannery O’Connor, Mordecai Richler, Langston Hughes, and Gertrude Stein.

While in general, alright can be found in all the senses of all right, in practice there can be a real semantic distinction between the two, because the two word form all right can mean ‘all correct’ or something like that, while alright can only mean ‘good; safe; healthy’, etc. when used as an adjective. (Similar distinctions are found with already and all ready, though these forms have diverged to the point where they are not interchangable at all.) Thus the sentence “The Kids Aren’t All Right” can mean ‘not all the kids are right’, or ‘some of the kids are wrong’, while “The Kids Aren’t Alright” can only mean ‘the kids are not OK’.

This sentence is not theoretical; it appeared as the cover line in New York magazine in 1995, which occasioned such an outburst of criticism that the magazine felt obliged to run an explanation several issues later. Their main points were that alright was a clear allusion to the song “The Kids Are Alright,” by The Who, and the clarity issue mentioned above. Their explanation probably did little to satisfy the many outraged English teachers who called their offices.

The current status of alright is hard to assess. It is very common even in edited writing–some studies have suggested that it is more common, which seems unlikely. Many people and many periodicals use it regularly. Yet it is still loudly condemned (your spell checker, like most, is designed to reject anything that’s even slightly problematic). Depending on your linguistic philosophy, it is either an outright error that is distressingly widespread, or a perfectly standard usage that is unnecessarily condemned.

TheGrammarVandal.com: A Full Feature in the Boston Sunday Globe!

The story is FANTASTIC, and the writer, Danielle Dreilinger, did such a great job. THANK YOU, DANIELLE!

If it’s still Sunday by the time you read this, go buy a copy of the Globe if you live in Boston, Brookline, Cambridge or Somerville! It’s in the City Weekly section.

Here is the story, taken directly from boston.com:

Stop sign travesties!

Self-proclaimed “grammar vandal” goes after public mistakes that grate

By Danielle Dreilinger, Globe Correspondent July 15, 2007

The ads said “run easy,” but they made Kate McCulley’s teeth clench.

The 22-year-old grammarian stared at Reebok’s Marathon-themed posters on her commute from Somerville to Fort Point this spring, on her way to her job as a research assistant at a concierge services company. “RUN EASY BOSTON,” the ads announced, inviting locals to . . . do what?

The question began to haunt her.

“Should I run an easy Boston? Should I run, and is Boston a promiscuous city?” she riffed on her travel blog, katesadventures.com. Her conclusion: “Without punctuation, we have nothing.”

It didn’t help her mood that she was reading “Eats, Shoots & Leaves,” the best-selling book about grammar that tickles readers with its gentle wit but hits hard about the sorry state of language usage. Her copy included a packet of punctuation stickers as a do-it-yourself correction kit.

The Reebok sign should have read “run easily,” McCulley observed, and it should have had a comma after “easily,” before “Boston.”

(Grammar note: “Easy” is an adjective, which must never be used to describe a verb, such as “run”; that task calls for the adverb “easily.” A sentence addressing someone directly, such as “Run easily,” must separate that address from the party being addressed — in this case, Boston — with a comma.)

On May 29, a memorable date for its linguistic personal import, McCulley cracked. The mild-mannered blogger ducked inside (well, next to) a bus shelter on Summer Street by South Station, pulled out her handy sheet of comma stickers, and made one small correction:”RUN EASY, BOSTON.”

She had become the Grammar Vandal.

McCulley’s credentials? She’s an aspiring writer who majored in English in college and grew up loving to read and spell. Her reference book? “Most of what I go by is instinct,” she said, though she holds the “Associated Press Stylebook” close to her heart.

In the week after McCulley’s small act of rebellion, Buzzfeed.com, a blog that tracks hot Web topics, chose her as a top “grammar Nazi” blogger. People reposted the item on the popular Newsvine blog.

McCulley realized some people did care about language — enough for her to start a new blog, www.thegrammarvandal.com.

The Reebok ad has since disappeared, but the comma remains on the bus shelter, a vestige of the beginnings of McCulley’s crusade around Boston for truth, usage, and the grammatical way.McCulley has always noticed grammar errors, she said. The only difference is that now when she sees one, “I take a picture and post it on my blog,” she said.

It’s a question of standards. “It’s as if we’ve resigned ourselves” to errors, she said. “Are we giving up everything to LOL and BRB?” (That’s “laugh out loud” and “be right back,” for those who are completely out of it.) She does use “LOL” in text messages but takes the extra time to tap correct grammar into that tiny keypad. “Twice as long, twice as right!” she chirps.

McCulley seems completely unfazed by the responsibility she’s taken upon herself. She’ll debate finer points: Should Boston RealtyNet hyphenate “full service”? And she admits even she can’t be perfect. Several responses to her original vandalism blog post ing criticized its grammar. She considered the points “debatable.”

Nothing is immune to the Grammar Vandal’s keen eye, not even the blue T-shirt she wore on a recent walk to point out grammar errors along Newbury Street. McCulley couldn’t possibly walk around wearing a shirt saying “Without Me Its Just Aweso.” So she took a Sharpie to the shirt, adding a comma after “me” and an apostrophe to “it’s.”

“Of course, I’m obsessive,” she said.

On her walk around Back Bay, the grammar vigilante’s judgments were sure and steady. Though Newbury Street is considered among the classiest of thoroughfares in an educated city, its signs are riddled with errors.

Newbury Visions riled McCulley with its sign for “eye exams contact lenses.” As with the Reebok ad, the she felt the sign cried out for separation between its elements.

Another peeve surfaced several blocks down, at the Boloco restaurant. ” ‘Everyday’ can be one word, but only as an adjective meaning ‘usual’ or ‘typical,’ ” McCulley explained, not “each day.” Boloco’s sign almost certainly didn’t mean to say its “breakfast burritos” are ordinary, but that they are on the menu daily.

Still, why worry when people probably understand from the sign that they can get a daily fix of tasty burritos at Boloco, or recognize the phrases “eye exams” and “contact lenses?”
McCulley bristled at the question. “Getting the idea across is the very basic, the minimum,” she said.

Continuing down Newbury, McCulley pointed out a discrepancy between “Alexanders” and “Alexander’s” on a beauty parlor (the possessive apostrophe is needed, unless the shop is for more than one Alexander). Questioned later, store manager Lourdes Lopez said the proper spelling of the salon is actually “Alexander’s,” after the original owner.

McCulley judged Avante Gard Medical Spa’s name plain “wrong.” (Should be “Avant-Garde.”) She allowed the period at the end of “Betsey Johnson.” to stand, though, citing “artistic license.”A very few stores earned gold stars. BeBe Nail & Skin Salon hyphenated “walk-ins.” Co So Artists’ Gallery formed the plural possessive correctly. “That is all too rare these days,” McCulley said. “It’s perfect!”

What really got McCulley’s goat wasn’t an error here or there by a single person but mistakes made by businesses. Shouldn’t they have editors to check ads and signs? She paused in front of the Madura linens store at the corner of Dartmouth and Newbury streets and pointed out a shiny, printed sign advertising a sale “On marked items only, while supplies last curent prices.” (Proper spelling: current; comma needed after “last.”)

Store manager Victoria Whitney sighed when asked about the sign. Madura is a French company, she said, and the sign was custom-made in France. By the time it arrived here, it was too late to fix the error.

The worst offender in all of Boston, according to the Vandal: Lush, a purveyor of earthy-yet-expensive soaps and cosmetics. McCulley directed a reporter to peek through the window at a blackboard inside. It read:

‘HAVE FUN THIS IS AN ADULT CANDY STORE.’

McCulley could hardly contain her disdain. “Have fun, exclamation point; this is an adult candy store, period,” she said.

All along the walk, the Vandal watched for opportunities to use her trusty comma stickers (which conveniently double as apostrophes). She couldn’t reach the Alexanders sign unless she hung off a stairway. The Madura sign was behind glass. McCulley knelt and drew a connecting bracket on a CVS placard announcing openings for “over night” staff, making it into a single word.

Finally she zeroed in the European Watch Co. The sign was accessible. The store was closed. And the sign read “New Pre-Owned Vintage.” It was her pet bugaboo: the missing comma.McCulley climbed up on the stone ledge and quietly adjusted the phrase as oblivious shoppers walked by. She stood back and admired the sign, which now said “New, Pre-Owned, Vintage.”

“There you go,” she said. “That is beautiful.”

That beauty might be fleeting. When alerted to the fix, manager Albert Ganjei noticed the black stickers didn’t match the white text. He might order some white commas, he said.

But the life of a Grammar Vandal can be lonely. Some friends “have stopped sending me e-mails for fear I will correct them,” she said. One acquaintance followed an e-mail to her calling Mitt Romney’s sons “hott” with a second message explaining she was purposely adding the second “t” to emphasize the hotness of the young men. The postscript made McCulley feel “like a monster!” she said.

Hence the blog, where she hopes to find like-minded souls.

If one passer by learns how to use a comma from her edits, McCulley said, “then I think my job is” — she paused and corrected herself — “well, not done.”

PHOTO GALLERY: The ‘grammar vandal’

TheGrammarVandal.com: A Full Feature in the Boston Sunday Globe!

The story is FANTASTIC, and the writer, Danielle Dreilinger, did such a great job. THANK YOU, DANIELLE!

If it’s still Sunday by the time you read this, go buy a copy of the Globe if you live in Boston, Brookline, Cambridge or Somerville! It’s in the City Weekly section.

Here is the story, taken directly from boston.com:

Stop sign travesties!

Self-proclaimed “grammar vandal” goes after public mistakes that grate

By Danielle Dreilinger, Globe Correspondent July 15, 2007

The ads said “run easy,” but they made Kate McCulley’s teeth clench.

The 22-year-old grammarian stared at Reebok’s Marathon-themed posters on her commute from Somerville to Fort Point this spring, on her way to her job as a research assistant at a concierge services company. “RUN EASY BOSTON,” the ads announced, inviting locals to . . . do what?

The question began to haunt her.

“Should I run an easy Boston? Should I run, and is Boston a promiscuous city?” she riffed on her travel blog, katesadventures.com. Her conclusion: “Without punctuation, we have nothing.”

It didn’t help her mood that she was reading “Eats, Shoots & Leaves,” the best-selling book about grammar that tickles readers with its gentle wit but hits hard about the sorry state of language usage. Her copy included a packet of punctuation stickers as a do-it-yourself correction kit.

The Reebok sign should have read “run easily,” McCulley observed, and it should have had a comma after “easily,” before “Boston.”

(Grammar note: “Easy” is an adjective, which must never be used to describe a verb, such as “run”; that task calls for the adverb “easily.” A sentence addressing someone directly, such as “Run easily,” must separate that address from the party being addressed — in this case, Boston — with a comma.)

On May 29, a memorable date for its linguistic personal import, McCulley cracked. The mild-mannered blogger ducked inside (well, next to) a bus shelter on Summer Street by South Station, pulled out her handy sheet of comma stickers, and made one small correction:”RUN EASY, BOSTON.”

She had become the Grammar Vandal.

McCulley’s credentials? She’s an aspiring writer who majored in English in college and grew up loving to read and spell. Her reference book? “Most of what I go by is instinct,” she said, though she holds the “Associated Press Stylebook” close to her heart.

In the week after McCulley’s small act of rebellion, Buzzfeed.com, a blog that tracks hot Web topics, chose her as a top “grammar Nazi” blogger. People reposted the item on the popular Newsvine blog.

McCulley realized some people did care about language — enough for her to start a new blog, www.thegrammarvandal.com.

The Reebok ad has since disappeared, but the comma remains on the bus shelter, a vestige of the beginnings of McCulley’s crusade around Boston for truth, usage, and the grammatical way.McCulley has always noticed grammar errors, she said. The only difference is that now when she sees one, “I take a picture and post it on my blog,” she said.

It’s a question of standards. “It’s as if we’ve resigned ourselves” to errors, she said. “Are we giving up everything to LOL and BRB?” (That’s “laugh out loud” and “be right back,” for those who are completely out of it.) She does use “LOL” in text messages but takes the extra time to tap correct grammar into that tiny keypad. “Twice as long, twice as right!” she chirps.

McCulley seems completely unfazed by the responsibility she’s taken upon herself. She’ll debate finer points: Should Boston RealtyNet hyphenate “full service”? And she admits even she can’t be perfect. Several responses to her original vandalism blog post ing criticized its grammar. She considered the points “debatable.”

Nothing is immune to the Grammar Vandal’s keen eye, not even the blue T-shirt she wore on a recent walk to point out grammar errors along Newbury Street. McCulley couldn’t possibly walk around wearing a shirt saying “Without Me Its Just Aweso.” So she took a Sharpie to the shirt, adding a comma after “me” and an apostrophe to “it’s.”

“Of course, I’m obsessive,” she said.

On her walk around Back Bay, the grammar vigilante’s judgments were sure and steady. Though Newbury Street is considered among the classiest of thoroughfares in an educated city, its signs are riddled with errors.

Newbury Visions riled McCulley with its sign for “eye exams contact lenses.” As with the Reebok ad, the she felt the sign cried out for separation between its elements.

Another peeve surfaced several blocks down, at the Boloco restaurant. ” ‘Everyday’ can be one word, but only as an adjective meaning ‘usual’ or ‘typical,’ ” McCulley explained, not “each day.” Boloco’s sign almost certainly didn’t mean to say its “breakfast burritos” are ordinary, but that they are on the menu daily.

Still, why worry when people probably understand from the sign that they can get a daily fix of tasty burritos at Boloco, or recognize the phrases “eye exams” and “contact lenses?”
McCulley bristled at the question. “Getting the idea across is the very basic, the minimum,” she said.

Continuing down Newbury, McCulley pointed out a discrepancy between “Alexanders” and “Alexander’s” on a beauty parlor (the possessive apostrophe is needed, unless the shop is for more than one Alexander). Questioned later, store manager Lourdes Lopez said the proper spelling of the salon is actually “Alexander’s,” after the original owner.

McCulley judged Avante Gard Medical Spa’s name plain “wrong.” (Should be “Avant-Garde.”) She allowed the period at the end of “Betsey Johnson.” to stand, though, citing “artistic license.”A very few stores earned gold stars. BeBe Nail & Skin Salon hyphenated “walk-ins.” Co So Artists’ Gallery formed the plural possessive correctly. “That is all too rare these days,” McCulley said. “It’s perfect!”

What really got McCulley’s goat wasn’t an error here or there by a single person but mistakes made by businesses. Shouldn’t they have editors to check ads and signs? She paused in front of the Madura linens store at the corner of Dartmouth and Newbury streets and pointed out a shiny, printed sign advertising a sale “On marked items only, while supplies last curent prices.” (Proper spelling: current; comma needed after “last.”)

Store manager Victoria Whitney sighed when asked about the sign. Madura is a French company, she said, and the sign was custom-made in France. By the time it arrived here, it was too late to fix the error.

The worst offender in all of Boston, according to the Vandal: Lush, a purveyor of earthy-yet-expensive soaps and cosmetics. McCulley directed a reporter to peek through the window at a blackboard inside. It read:

‘HAVE FUN THIS IS AN ADULT CANDY STORE.’

McCulley could hardly contain her disdain. “Have fun, exclamation point; this is an adult candy store, period,” she said.

All along the walk, the Vandal watched for opportunities to use her trusty comma stickers (which conveniently double as apostrophes). She couldn’t reach the Alexanders sign unless she hung off a stairway. The Madura sign was behind glass. McCulley knelt and drew a connecting bracket on a CVS placard announcing openings for “over night” staff, making it into a single word.

Finally she zeroed in the European Watch Co. The sign was accessible. The store was closed. And the sign read “New Pre-Owned Vintage.” It was her pet bugaboo: the missing comma.McCulley climbed up on the stone ledge and quietly adjusted the phrase as oblivious shoppers walked by. She stood back and admired the sign, which now said “New, Pre-Owned, Vintage.”

“There you go,” she said. “That is beautiful.”

That beauty might be fleeting. When alerted to the fix, manager Albert Ganjei noticed the black stickers didn’t match the white text. He might order some white commas, he said.

But the life of a Grammar Vandal can be lonely. Some friends “have stopped sending me e-mails for fear I will correct them,” she said. One acquaintance followed an e-mail to her calling Mitt Romney’s sons “hott” with a second message explaining she was purposely adding the second “t” to emphasize the hotness of the young men. The postscript made McCulley feel “like a monster!” she said.

Hence the blog, where she hopes to find like-minded souls.

If one passer by learns how to use a comma from her edits, McCulley said, “then I think my job is” — she paused and corrected herself — “well, not done.”

PHOTO GALLERY: The ‘grammar vandal’

Who’s vs. Whose Explained SO Well!

I’m a fan of the HBO show Big Love, a drama about a polygamist family trying to live a normal life in present-day Utah. (If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it. If I know you, I’d be happy to lend you the DVDs!) Unfortunately, I don’t get HBO, so I missed the season premiere.

This morning, I decided to read the review anyway, since it’s been about a year since the season finale took place. I’d been dying to know what happened next!

Shirley Halperin wrote the review for EW.com. And Shirley Halperin is a goddess. In one swift, deft move, and probably without intention, she demonstrated the way to use the words “who’s” and “whose.”

Outed but Not Down
By Shirley Halperin

This creates the perfect opportunity for good old Nicki to step in, step up, and save the day. Which is what makes her such a fascinating character: Is she the sacrificial lamb or the one who brings the lamb to slaughter? From her back-and-forth bickering with Margene over who’s going shopping, who’s taking the kids to school, who’s making dinner, and whose turn it is to satisfy Bill later that night (okay, that last one didn’t happen on this particular show), it looks like she’s trying all angles, as usual.

Oh, that is beautiful.

BEAUTIFUL.

Shirley Halperin, you are a deity, a mermaid, and one classy broad. If I ever meet you, I’d be glad to buy you a coffee.

One of my biggest gripes is when people mix up “who’s” and “whose.” I’m about to explain the rules regarding these words, but after Shirley Halperin’s stunning explanation, I barely need to go into depth. A short rundown is fine.

“Who’s” is the conjuction of “who is” or “who has.”

“Whose” refers to possession.

Examples:

I don’t know whose legwarmers these are, but I’m throwing them in the trash on principle alone!

Mary didn’t want to speak with Carla, whose medication caused her to growl like a bear at the slightest hint of displeasure.

I don’t know who’s going to attend the date auction, but if I were sixteen again, I would bet on A.C. Slater so fast, it would make your head spin!

I beg you to tell me who’s been emptying the vodka bottle and refilling it with water; believe me, vodka alone does not freeze!

Learn it. Live it.

Shirley Halperin, I am so glad I clicked on that Big Love review this morning. I am very proud of your writing. If I may go out on a limb, I think that you may have inadvertently changed someone’s bad grammar habits for the better! You get a gold star.

Who’s vs. Whose Explained SO Well!

I’m a fan of the HBO show Big Love, a drama about a polygamist family trying to live a normal life in present-day Utah. (If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it. If I know you, I’d be happy to lend you the DVDs!) Unfortunately, I don’t get HBO, so I missed the season premiere.

This morning, I decided to read the review anyway, since it’s been about a year since the season finale took place. I’d been dying to know what happened next!

Shirley Halperin wrote the review for EW.com. And Shirley Halperin is a goddess. In one swift, deft move, and probably without intention, she demonstrated the way to use the words “who’s” and “whose.”

Outed but Not Down
By Shirley Halperin

This creates the perfect opportunity for good old Nicki to step in, step up, and save the day. Which is what makes her such a fascinating character: Is she the sacrificial lamb or the one who brings the lamb to slaughter? From her back-and-forth bickering with Margene over who’s going shopping, who’s taking the kids to school, who’s making dinner, and whose turn it is to satisfy Bill later that night (okay, that last one didn’t happen on this particular show), it looks like she’s trying all angles, as usual.

Oh, that is beautiful.

BEAUTIFUL.

Shirley Halperin, you are a deity, a mermaid, and one classy broad. If I ever meet you, I’d be glad to buy you a coffee.

One of my biggest gripes is when people mix up “who’s” and “whose.” I’m about to explain the rules regarding these words, but after Shirley Halperin’s stunning explanation, I barely need to go into depth. A short rundown is fine.

“Who’s” is the conjuction of “who is” or “who has.”

“Whose” refers to possession.

Examples:

I don’t know whose legwarmers these are, but I’m throwing them in the trash on principle alone!

Mary didn’t want to speak with Carla, whose medication caused her to growl like a bear at the slightest hint of displeasure.

I don’t know who’s going to attend the date auction, but if I were sixteen again, I would bet on A.C. Slater so fast, it would make your head spin!

I beg you to tell me who’s been emptying the vodka bottle and refilling it with water; believe me, vodka alone does not freeze!

Learn it. Live it.

Shirley Halperin, I am so glad I clicked on that Big Love review this morning. I am very proud of your writing. If I may go out on a limb, I think that you may have inadvertently changed someone’s bad grammar habits for the better! You get a gold star.