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Tuesday, 31 January 2017 15:24

Don't Let Grammar Mistakes Make You Look Dopey

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Hotel SignI saw the sign on the left while traveling last week. It was in the lobby of my hotel, affixed to the wall.

For all to see.

And, ya' know, laugh at.

I notice a lot of goofy mistakes like that. I've captured a few more in the pictures below. (Can you spot the problems?)

Ultimately, none of these flubs will bring about the end of civilization, but if you run a business, I’m sure you'd rather avoid these types of embarrassing errors on your website, signage and printed materials.

So, here are a few tips to help you steer clear of some common grammar mistakes.

Apostrophes don't make words plural. The word Employee's on the sign above doesn't need that cute little hanging comma. Apostrophes are used for two main reasons:

1) To show possession (Harold's cats, the crowds' cheers).

2) To take the place of one or more letters, as in a contraction (won't, can't, y'all), or when dropping letters to suggest a more casual approach to speech (singin' and dancin').

Speaking of contractions... Every now and then I hear a sentence such as this in radio or TV copy:

There's many models to choose from.

The problem is that there ARE many models to choose from. Because the word models is plural, a plural verb is required. As much as I prefer contractions, there's isn't correct in that sentence.

Can't we all just agree? The problem above is also an example of subject-verb disagreement. Again, when the subject (the main noun) is singular, the verb must be singular, too.

Disagreement is most common when there are many words between the subject and verb and/or when there's a prepositional phrase in play. A lot of people mistake the object of the preposition for the subject of the sentence, as in this example:

Our award-winning team of joint replacement specialists take care to find the right treatment.

In that sentence, the subject is team, not specialists. Of joint replacement specialists is a prepositional phrase - a phrase beginning with a preposition (of, on, in, under, etc.).

If you’re ever unsure which word is the subject, break down the sentence to its simplest form - Our team takes care - and then make sure your subject and verb agree.

Remembering all the rules of the English language can be tough. And, sure, everyone lets a typo slip by now and then. So, before you put your words in front of your audience, run them by a skilled proofreader and even a copy editor. The extra time and effort will keep customers from writing blog posts about your mistakes.

Goofy Signs

Read 1089 times Last modified on Wednesday, 01 February 2017 10:53
More in this category: « A Few Words Who Cares? »