Bill Cosby = Grammar WIN!

Earlier in this blog’s history, I talked about Bill Cosby’s latest book, Come On People.  (I discussed it here and later here.)

Oh, Bill.  Oh, publishing company.  Without the comma, there’s suddenly a LOT of innuendo in this title.  (The cover art doesn’t help, either.)

Well, I was perusing the books at Borders the other day and saw the latest edition of the book:


They actually added the comma!

THIS MAKES ME SO HAPPY!!  It’s so rare that you actually see a company changing its grammar after customer complaints!  (Believe me, there were a lot of complaints.  This book got a lot of press for its missing comma in the title.)

I have to give a shout-out to the book’s publisher, Thomas Nelson.  Well done, Tommy boy.  Very well done.

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

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]

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 Town Without Apostrophes

First of all, thanks to everyone who sent me this story.  It’s become quite a popular news item!

The city of Birmingham, England, has done the unthinkable: they’ve banned apostrophes.

On the streets of Birmingham, the queen’s English is now the queens English.

England’s second-largest city has decided to drop apostrophes from all its street signs, saying they’re confusing and old-fashioned.

But some purists are downright possessive about the punctuation mark.

It seems that Birmingham officials have been taking a hammer to grammar for years, quietly dropping apostrophes from street signs since the 1950s. Through the decades, residents have frequently launched spirited campaigns to restore the missing punctuation to signs denoting such places as “St. Pauls Square” or “Acocks Green.”

This week, the council made it official, saying it was banning the punctuation mark from signs in a bid to end the dispute once and for all.

It hurts my head and heart to read this.

The story goes on to talk about how some of the possessions signified by the apostrophe no longer exist, and that they should not be restored for that reason.  Kings Cross is no longer owned by the king, for example.

Let me say something.

I’ve said it time and time again: I hate it when people take the easy way out when it comes to grammar and spelling.  If everybody did that, can you imagine the state of writing this day?  It’s bad enough as it is!  (Caesars Palace comes to mind yet again…)

We can’t keep dumbing down our society to benefit the uneducated.  If we did that in all aspects of our lives, there would be no more quality literature.  Hell, Rob Schneider movies would be up for Oscars.

Birmingham, I really hope you think about exactly what you’re doing here.

To Serve and Correct

I just came across an interesting article in the UK’s Ilkeston Advertiser:

Derbyshire police officers have become the first in Britain to get a new educational booklet, which includes tips on how to spell.

Superintendent Gary Knighton has distributed the Fast Facts for Policing booklet to all 1,800 officers in the county.

It contains multiplication tables and the correct spellings of the days of the week and months of the year.

The differences between source and sauce, whether and weather and two and too are explained. And officers are advised on how to use the 24-hour clock.

Supt Knighton said: “Spellings and terminology are very important in our line of work and accuracy is key when producing official documents. We’re pleased to be the first force to offer people the opportunity to improve their skills in this way and we hope other constabularies will consider distributing the Fast Facts booklet.”

Multiplication tables?  Really?

It sounds a bit ridiculous when you picture cops running down the street, fighting crime while referring to their little books.  (It reminds me of this hilarious Conan O’Brien sketch.  “Former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich!  Nooooooooo!”)

Sometimes you have to start with the very basics, the very minimums that help you avoid embarrassment.

Also, keep in mind that if a cop spells a month incorrectly on a speeding ticket, you could probably contest it.

What do you think?