Category Archives: grammar

Grammar Madness Update

Forget about your NCAA bracket: If you’re more concerned about your Grammar Madness bracket, check out the winner of the first Grammar Madness battle here.

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The Shame Game, Grammarian Version

All right, you pedants. Let the public shaming begin.

Grammarlyblog’s tournament of grammatical errors — Grammar Madness — begins today. If you love spotting errors on social media, this tournament is for you. Today’s vote focuses on contextual spelling mistakes — the old pore/pour kind of slip.

So get surfing the web for the most egregious errors, and then vote on your favs.

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Happy Grammar Day!

It’s National Grammar Day (well, it is in the US, anyway), so amuse yourself with some fun blogs devoted to the subject. This post by Copyediting has several fun suggestions.

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Peeve Wars

Are you a pompous grammarian with a competitive entrepreneurial spirit? Then get over to FundAnything and help Grammar Girl with her new game, Peeve Wars.

Peeve Wars is a card game in which you collect peeve cards to annoy your opponent. My favourite peeve card is the Grammar Snob (“Just because you’re correct doesn’t mean you’re not annoying.”). My least favourite is the Where Are You At? card. It’s not even spelled correctly! It should read “Where y’at, b’y?”

Clearly, GrammarGirl is a long way from The Rock.

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Like Shootin’ Fish in a Barrel

I’ve been searching for errors on storefront signs around the city. Today there was no shortage of offenders. The most common errors were as you might expect:

  • An apostrophe s where none is needed (or vice versa):
They should have stopped at "Art."

They should have stopped at Art.

Are the materials for artists (no apostrophe), or do the materials belong to artists (apostrophe)? No apostrophe is needed here. Better: Rename the store Art Materials. Best: Artists R Us.

  • A plural form where none is needed (or a singular where a plural is needed):
Fruits, anyone?

They’re selling the fruits of their labour, perhaps?

Where's the s?

With a logo this unforgettable, who needs the s?

  • An adjective used as a noun (or vice versa):
An improvement: Improve Your English

Improve Your English, will ya.

The above sign is around the corner from my house and has bothered me for years. My vote would be to go with “Improve Your English.” English-speaking (with a hyphen) is an adjective, not a noun. Alternatives could include “Improve Your Spoken English” or “Improve Your Conversational English.” Drop one of the frees and omit the ESL, and I can walk past without the snicker.

  • The use of American spellings:
In Canada, it's "centre."

In Canada, it’s “centre.”

In Canada, we "flavour" our food.

We Canucks “flavour” our food.

  • Inconsistent capitalization (and spacing and order, in this instance):
"Manufacturer & Wholesaler of Sportswear, souvenirs,  smoking & Fashion Accessories

“Manufacturer & Wholesaler _of Sportswear, souvenirs, _smoking & Fashion Accessories”

Speaking of inconsistency, I’m bestowing an award on today’s most inconsistently spelled word. Congratulations, jewellery

  • Creative (read: incorrect) spellings:
Their coconut buns are the driest in the city -- guaranteed!

Their coconut buns are the driest in the city — guaranteed!

Get Jean's drape before anyone else snags it!

Get Jean’s drape before anyone else snags it!

Of all the ways jewels could be misspelled, I never would have guessed this.

Of all the signs in all the world, jewells had to walk onto mine.

And yes, this is a menu item, not the last name of the owner.

And yes, this is a menu item, not the last name of the owner.

On offer: purse, scarfs and wallet

On offer: purse, scarfs, and wallet

Git yur backpack, belt, and souvener here.

Git yur backpack, belt, and souvener here.

Takeout was consistently spelled take-out. This was unusual in its incorrectness.

Takeout was consistently spelled take-out. This sign was unusual in its incorrectness: take out as two words.

There were lots of signs that used E- in the text: “E-style haircut.” Really? Is this some kind of fashion I’m unaware of, because variations on this were everywhere (and e-tea, anyone?).

Lots of signs were just plain confusing:

VCD? Am I late to the tech revolution again?!

VCD? Am I late to the tech revolution again?!

The most disappointing mistake was from one of the big banks:

Transfer in?

Transfer in?

Best business name of the day goes to Hair Do. Worst business name is a tie between On Care (not call) Pharmacy and this travesty:

Is that French?

Is that French?

Here’s the absolute worst sign of the day:

This one needs a team of editors.

This one needs a team of editors.

To end on a bright note, here’s a sign that could have gone wrong in so many ways but didn’t:

Nice!

Nice — no apostrophes!

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Filed under apostrophe s, capitalization, grammar, signage, spelling

Go, Jays, Go!

With the Toronto Blue Jays playing their first game of the season tonight, who can think straight? The Jays have a lot of talent this year, but I’m most excited to see R. A. Dickey‘s knuckleball and the shortstop moves of Jose Reyes. I’m going to Sunday’s game against Boston, but who knows who will be pitching. Fingers crossed that I get to see Dickey. (The Globe and Mail has a fun interactive piece on Dickey here.)

So, with the Jays weighing heavily on my mind, today I offer some tips on collective nouns – nouns such as team, league, staff, management, administration. The rule is both simple and easy: treat collective nouns as singular unless the members are acting as individuals.

 

The team looks (singular verb) promising this year.

The team are (plural verb) looking around for their freshly pressed jerseys.

Management is (singular verb) ready to get tough.

Management disagree (plural verb) about the best course of action.

 

Of course, if you feel that the plural sounds unnatural, you can always recast the sentence: The members of the team are looking around for their freshly pressed jerseys.

Now let’s throw in a knuckleball and see how it breaks: The phrase a number of is plural, and the phrase the number of is singular. (This rule isn’t exclusive to collective nouns, by the way.)

 

A number of people are expected at the opener tonight.

The number of people with season tickets is unusually high this year.

 

Hmm. I wonder if the number of season tickets holders is unusually high this year. You’d think it would be. And I wish I were one of them.

 

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