Thursday, January 28, 2010

Because When You're Moving, You're Harder to Hit

Check out the last line of this warning sign photographed by Barry L.

They meant to write "stay away from the partition when it's moving" or something along those lines. It's another case of not-quite-right construction that results in giggles. "While" is a conjunction (and sometimes a noun) that means, essentially, "at the same time" (and a few other things).

The second part of the sentence needs a subject, or the "in motion" will refer back to the subject in the first part.

What's the fix? Always read out loud. The ear catches these things better than the eye. And, choose the simplest way to say something, rather than the most official sounding. "Students: Stay away from the partition when it's moving."


Bob Cumbow said...

This reminds me of the sign in the parking garage of one of our downtown office buildings here in Seattle: "Upon entering the building, we may ask the purpose of your visit."

Martha Brockenbrough said...

Bob, there's a sign at the post office in my neighborhood with a similar awkward modifier. I'll take a photo next time I'm there.

Andygirl said...

I'd like to think that the students are playing some kind of game that involves wiggling up until they get to the partition. Then they have to stay perfectly still or they're out.