Thursday, October 20, 2011

It's Never Too Early to Learn to Spell

It's "whore," you little dummy. WHORE.*

*Oh, we're only kidding. They prefer to be called sex workers.**

**Just kidding. Call them Nancy.***

*** We'll stop now, as we're starting to look like a hores's ass.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

It's the Little Things

R. sends this photo of a sign hanging somewhere in Arizona. It's so close to being right. Just that missing letter N.

People, that N is out there.

Maybe it's inserted itself into a "stationnery" sign at Office Depot. Or maybe it's run away with the missing apostrophe and E from this tattoo.

Please do keep a look out so that we don't have to make a custom milk carton pleading for its safe retur ...

Monday, September 12, 2011

Craiglisterious: We Don't Know What This Means

SPOGG member Linnea D sent this Craigslist gem. 

We suggest you read it out loud to appreciate the full measure of the lunacy. Druck free? Maybe. But we doubt it.

Will Drive car with person Truck with load car with pet (orange park to brunswick ga)




Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Not Quite Mary Poppins

From a Craigslist ad written by a prospective nanny:
Exp'd, Loving, Conscious [sic]  Nanny Available
Unfortunately, we're only in the market for an unconscious nanny.

Thanks to Kate R. for the find. And good luck with the nanny search.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

There Is No U in Flowers

But there are two of them in "bouquets."

The spelling teacher probably needs a dozen incentive tulips (which are different from apology daisies and attempted-seduction roses).

Thanks to Matt K. for the photo.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Oh, Red (Pen) State...

You know the expression "so wrong it's right?"

Yeah, well, that doesn't apply here. All of these errors still add up to a big, fat yikes, and as Sara J. of Mobile, Alabama puts it, "This does not help southern Alabama shed its backwoods image."

Cue the banjos, y'all. It's been that sort of week.

It's "know," not "no." It's "you're," not "your." And it should be "supposed to," not "suppose to." A little punctuation wouldn't hurt, either. All that said, the onion rings look really good.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Don't Drink and Dress

Look, we'd drink margaritas every day if we could. They're delicious! So tangy and salty!

But, just as we love our liver, we would never use the apostrophe to make a plural, nor would we spell everyday as one word, unless we were saying something to the effect of "Margarita is ordinary."

Thanks to Alan H. for the photo.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

This Makes Us Hear Banjo Music

The price is right. But we do sort of wonder what he charges for the "open."*

* CONSCIENCE: Is that thinly veiled sex joke taking it a bit too far?

PERSONAL DEMONS: What are you talking about? Look, nipples!

CONSCIENCE: You should probably step away from the keyboard.

PERSONAL DEMONS: You shore got a purty mouth.

Thanks to Meredith for the photo.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

New Books from Grammar Girl

It's not widely known that Mignon Fogarty, aka Grammar Girl, is actually an android. How else could she keep up with her inhuman podcast, media appearances, and publishing schedule? SPOGG is in awe of all of the above, including the technology that has given us such a lifelike robot. Rumor has it that she even giggles when you poke her just so in the ribs. Adorable!

We are pleased to recommend two of her most recent titles: Grammar Girl Presents the Ultimate Writing Guide for Students and Grammar Girl's 101 Misused Words You'll Never Confuse Again.

The student guide is fantastic--printed in orange and black and chock full of cartoons, so it feels anything but tedious.

The advice is written clearly and simply enough that a student as young as 10 or so could benefit. But it's also a book that will help anyone who wants to brush up on grammar and style basics. If you're one of those people who feels insecure about your writing, do check this one out. Henry Holt is the publisher, and the list price is $19.99.

101 Misused Words is an extremely handy guide that pairs words often mistaken for one another, and offers you tips for remembering which to use and why. If you don't know whether to use "stationary" or "stationery," (and we're talking to you, office supply clerk), you'll soon learn. 

The book will be useful to anyone who writes regularly for publication. We're not just talking journalists here, although we often see misused words from Grammar Girl's list in newspapers. Rather, we're talking about the people who write menus and advertisements. The people who post notices on bulletin boards. The people who send us spam. The list is long. It probably includes you. Lord knows we're on it and have made some of these errors ourselves, because we, unfortunately, are mere flesh and blood.

101 Misused Words is a mere $5.99, from St. Martin's Griffin.

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Unkindest Cut

The story is gruesome, but the headline gets the location wrong. She was accused in court; the alleged crime happened in her bedroom. The whole thing? Tragic.

Thanks to Beth for the submission.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

That Vs. Who: Why It Matters

We are lifting this out of the comments because it makes such an important point so elegantly: 
I teach college English, and it is becoming more and more difficult for me to find students not using "that" as the default indicative pronoun when referring to people or groups of people in both speech and writing. The simple example I hammer into their questing noggins every semester is this:

People = Who/whom
Things (anything not human) = That (SPOGG: or which)

The rationale I give is also simple, yet I think quite profound:

Our society and culture depersonalize humanity -- individuals or groups of individuals -- too much as it is. Let us not contribute to that depersonalization any more, as it may ultimately depersonalize us all.

~ Prof. Peter R Jacoby
San Diego Mesa College

I am adorable.
We remember learning this lesson ourselves somewhere back in the Dark Ages. Thank you, Doug Thiel, for using the hammer on our writing when we were young and malleable.

A related issue arises with animals. We think any animal with a name is a "who."

So, "My cat Fluffy, who eats rats for breakfast, has surprisingly pleasant breath."

And then this: "The dolphin, which swam alongside the ship, gave the wrong directions to Portugal." 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

'Gulity' Until Presumed Ignorant?

We get all the outrage around the Casey Anthony verdict. But we think this lady should have calmed down and taken a couple of deep breaths before she wrote this sign. Then, she might have spelled "guilty" correctly and gone with the plural "jurors." We don't think there's any way she could have resisted the exclamation points, though. They are her swords of justice.

Thanks to Matt K. in Ohio for the photo.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Misfortune Cookie

OK, so this didn't come from a fortune cookie, even if it looks like it. 

Instead, it's a sign Alex F. found inside a bathroom at a park.
The toilet had but one handle, which would've matched the "it will malfunction" bit of the sentence so much better.

Then again, maybe rough treatment of the handle causes the toilet to malfunction.

This is the problem with pronouns. They need to match the antecedent (the noun that comes first). If a sentence (or toilet fortune) is missing its antecedent, confusion and possibly bathroom flooding can result.

In any case, all of this makes us wonder about the people who clobber public toilet handles. The less contact with these, the better. But maybe that's just us.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Sign of the Times: Drive ... Nice?

Bless Miriam K's heart. She took this photo while running a half-marathon in Seattle.

This is one of those tweener grammar issues. You no doubt remember the "Think Different" campaign for Apple. That was legitimate--they were not telling us to think in another way, but rather, to think about what it means to be different. It's a slight difference in construction, but a big difference in meaning. It's much better to be encouraged to think about the world-changing outliers than it is to be told the way you're currently thinking is faulty.

On this one, though, we wish the makers of the sign hadn't flattened the adverb. "Drive nicely" is admittedly stodgy, but "drive nice" doesn't, to us, convey any extra meaning.

We do wish they'd had a typo and written "DRIVE MICE." We've always wanted to saddle up one of those bad boys.

Oh, and if you are interested in learning more about linking verbs, which are legitimately followed by adjectives and not adverbs, click here for some helpful information.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Probably Too Late for This Guy

Education, eductaion. Potato, potao. We fear for the future.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Seattle folk: Get a discount on a writing seminar

If you live in the Pacific Northwest, you might enjoy an upcoming seminar on July 26 at the University of Phoenix Bellevue Learning Center.

The instructor, John Sturtevant, is offering a big discount to friends of the Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar ($275 instead of the regular $425 price).

Here's info about the event:

Get the confidence and skills you need to think clearly and write what you mean.

Information is plentiful in every organization. But how you communicate that information is critical. You must continually turn information into knowledge to help your managers, colleagues, and customers understand often complex ideas, and make educated decisions.

Clear writing starts with clear thinking.

John Sturtevant's Business Writing Seminar is an energetic, fun, challenging, and thought-provoking day packed with new ideas and practical techniques – all designed to give you the confidence to master what people struggle with the most – how to think clearly and write what you mean.
What you’ll learn:
  • The most important goal in writing (it’s not what you think).
  • The #1 question on every reader’s mind (you’re thinking it right now).
  • Why thinking about tomatoes will make you a better writer (it really works!)
  • 4 ways to define your objective and expected outcome.
  • Listening skills that help you identify your reader’s perspective.
  • How to understand, and answer, your reader’s expectations.
  • Why format, style, and organization contribute to clear writing.
  • Persuasive-writing structure and techniques that produce results.
  • Dozens of other practical ideas you can use immediately!
Who should attend:

Managers, technical professionals, business analysts, sales and marketing pros, administrative staff – everyone who has to communicate their ideas throughout the work day.

In this interactive full-day session, you will collaborate on problem-solving exercises, write and revise assignments, and learn from others through peer critiques.

You’ll also learn and practice the principles of analysis and argument. In business, you most often write to convince others to do something – approve a budget, change a process, support a project, and dozens of other kinds of decisions. You’ll learn how to think analytically and form a logical, persuasive argument.

For more information or to register, click here. (Be sure to click the Friend of SPOGG option.)

Friday, June 24, 2011

We'd Almost Like to Work with This Guy

From Craigslist (via Tiffany O.):

Help needed writing my way out of paper bag (telecommute)

Date: 2011-06-17, 7:55PM CDT
Reply to: [Errors when replying to ads?]

I'm trying to write some light humor pieces, and need a second pair of eyes. I'm not so much a Strunk and White guy as a drunken white guy. Help save me from myself and my creative punctuation.

This would be very infrequent, and by the piece.

  • Location: telecommute
  • Compensation: United States
  • Telecommuting is ok.
  • Principals only. Recruiters, please don't contact this job poster.
  • Please, no phone calls about this job!
  • Please do not contact job poster about other services, products or commercial interests.

PostingID: 2447219390

Thursday, June 23, 2011

We Don't Care How Good Jim Tastes

Nor do we care that he is free of that pesky gluten. We're just not ready to become cannibals.

(Thanks to Cristin F. for the photo.)

Thursday, May 05, 2011

We Have No Further Comment

Thanks to Samantha for the photo.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Paging Dr. Freud

The misspelling of "Osama" is, perhaps, the worst Freudian slip of the year. It's not as though the S and B are even close to each other on the keyboard.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Sign. By. Shatner.

If you read all the extraneous punctuation in this sign, it sounds a little bit like you're using the William Shatner Method of Dramatic Acting (with a touch of the Mike Myers "Ax Murderer" poetry inflection thrown in for good measure).

Thanks to Craig Conley (who has a new iPad app for Scrabble lovers who want to use all their consonants) for the photo, and to Kevin Emerson (who has a new vampire book out) for the Shatner joke.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

They Had Us At Menopause

Oh, it's just a small thing, really -- that extra apostrophe in "its." But we'd like the record to reflect that our brains are functioning well enough that we recognized that errant bit of punctuation.

Confidential to the people who write these ads: the liberal use of bold text, enlarged text, italics, and bold italics, along with an exclamation point, does not make the study sound any more appealing. We're middle aged, not moronic. 

Thanks to Linnea D. for sending the image along.

Friday, April 01, 2011

So That's What She Does with the Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Thanks to assorted SPOGGers who sent this along, we now know that Rachael Ray is a cannibal. A cannibal who not only gets nutrition from cooking her family and her dog, but also inspiration.

We think we're going to barf right about ... now.

(And yes, this demonstrates why commas are sometimes very necessary. But next time we're hungry, we'll be sure to consult her recipe for cooking family members. Some of our nieces and nephews look delicious.)

Update: Tails magazine says the cover was Photoshopped. It's still funny, though.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Happy National Grammar Day

Today is National Grammar Day, a time for us to raise our grammartini glasses and clink to the beauty of a well-constructed sentence, or to eat grammar crackers and milk while toasting the same thing.

The Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar founded National Grammar Day officially in 2008, although we celebrated it earlier with our high school students.

In the years since, it's grown far beyond us, thanks in large part to the participation of the many bloggers listed in the link parade on the side of this site.

Oh, and Grammar Girl. Inviting her to a party is like inviting Lady Gaga, but a Lady Gaga dressed in suitably warm late-winter clothes, ready to sing the official National Grammar Day anthem.

Last year, the event became a trending topic on Twitter. Katie Couric even mentioned it in her evening broadcast, earnestly offering up bad grammar advice, the well-intentioned but fake rule cautioning people not to end a sentence with a preposition.

The irony of this runs a close second to the National Grammar Day letter signed by President George W. Bush that we received in 2008. (We nonetheless remain grateful to the thoughtful people in his office who made that happen.)

People will be chatting all day on Twitter about the holiday using the hashtag #grammarday. Feel free to join in.

Meanwhile, we will be judging Editor Mark's haiku contest, reading the stunning conclusion to John McIntyre's grammarnoir extravaganza, and of course, drinking a properly chilled grammartini.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Grammar Smackdown: Men's Room Edition

People can get, well, pissy about a lot of things.

Nonetheless, we enjoyed this exchange (thanks, Lance!), almost as much as we enjoy that technicolor subway tile.

That is a nice bathroom, people. Let's keep it clean.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

National Grammar Day: A Haiku Contest

How can you resist
The chance to wax poetic
About sweet grammar?

If you are so moved
Go to Editor Mark's blog
The details are there.

(P.S. National Grammar Day is Friday! March 4! Wuhoo! We'll continue to punctuate as if there is a sale on exclamation points until it's all over! Sorry! We can't contain our excitement!)

Saturday, February 26, 2011

How Do You Spell Divorce?

Friday, February 25, 2011

Tales from the Casting Ouch

From our Genuine Hollywood Actress friend, a series of errors from actual casting calls:
A casting call used the word "thy" when they meant "thigh."

Another notice used the phrase "age rage" instead of "age range." That simple typo made me picture someone fuming over a birthday cake.

We are excepting kids.
You meant to say "accepting," because if you except them, then you're leaving them out and thus no kids will show up to your auditions.
If your into wearing the smallest string thing and very exposed, submit your photo.
Shudder. No comment.
And then there's this Craigslist ad:
Are you a ghost rider? Did you used to be? A popular TV show going into its fourth season is looking for a ghost riding expert to give an on-camera interview. What drives people to ghost ride? What are the risks? Let us know!
 We of course have a certain Johnny Cash song stuck in our head, which we offer up as your blurry but free Friday entertainment. We do think perhaps they are looking for ghost writers--and for their ads, ghost copy editors.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

The Thin White Line

Jim F. sends this photo along from the Los Altos City Council meeting. While "uniformed crime report" makes it sound a bit like evil deeds committed by men and women in uniform, it's a typo. They meant "uniform" crime report.

As typos go, it could have been worse. Or from where we sit, better. We'd definitely like to have heard about "unformed" crimes--you know, those half-baked plots where someone in a Nixon mask decides to rob a convenience store and leaves his wallet behind, and the getaway driver forgets to put gas in the tank so they run out just as they're speeding past the police station? Yeah. That kind. Maybe next time. 

Monday, February 07, 2011

Diagnosis: Spring Fever

Symptom: the unnecessary apostrophe in "days." Oh, you crazy crafters. When will you ever learn (and thanks to Tamara for the find).

Meanwhile, there's less than a month until National Grammar Day. What will you do to celebrate on March 4?

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Spelling and Grammar: the Public Transportation Edition

Ric just sent us this from the U.K.--the text on the back of his bus ticket. The error-per-word ratio is delightfully high:
In emergancy situations only, please call +44 (0) 845 543 6681. Calls from uk landlines costs no more than 4.5 pence per minute.

It reminded us of a photo from the New York subway we've been meaning to post. Grammar vigilantes have taken the matter into their own angry, angry hands. Meanwhile, the linguists are fighting back.

Do you ever wonder, by the way, the difference between England, Britain, and the U.K.? Wonder no more.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Tales from the Casting Ouch

Our monthly feature, as compiled and commented upon by a genuine Hollywood Actress:

Lets get payed!
Let's get an apostrophe and a spell checker!

You're list of credits.
Please give that apostrophe to the previous guy, and drop the E, because you are wrong.

I've got rythm.
No, no, you don't.

We are an independant movie.
Do you offer pendants? I could use another necklace.

Monday, January 24, 2011

We'd Heard About This Shirt...

But we didn't really believe in its existence until we saw the photo.

This attractive garment comes from Wet Seal's "I'm So Desperate I've Considered Having Sex with My Landlord's Dog" line (other items include a pair of literal "Kissin' Cousins" socks, and single-use thong underwear to cut your losses during the walk mortified trot of shame).

Thanks, Lance (and Little Willow). Your the best.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Long Live the Queen

We are still grieving that a Neiman* Marcus was built atop the smoldering bones of our childhood Dairy Queen. We love Dairy Queen. We love the soft ice cream. The whimsically named Dilly Bars. The Peanut Buster Parfaits. The crazy way they cling to the sort of anachronistic word "brazier" even though it's really close to "brasierre," and even though Dairy Queen could be used as slang for a top-heavy girl and it's crazy, crazy, crazy to have so many boob-joke possibilities on one sign. (Wow. Sorry for that breathless almost run-on sentence. We maybe need to eat some lunch.)

We do not, however, admire the boob who got the spelling on this sign wrong. "Do to" should've been "due to." That said, we're glad they're opening again soon, so that Alex F. who sent us this photo, won't have to wait long to enjoy a delicious Blizzard.

Best Fake Words in Apology Ever

Thanks to Gawker and Kat G. for this apology from Ricky Romance to Chris Brown.

George W. Bush and Sarah Palin make up words, but they are the mere typing monkeys to the Shakespeare that is Ricky R. Behold:  

I would like to extend my most sincere apologies to the elderly and youth of our nation for my sudden acrasial message of violence towards other individuals of unimportance."
I must eclaircise any misunderstandings that I am a Man of irrational aggression and behavior.
In no way am I attempting to justify my actions towards persons of high immaturity levels and hypocritical methods of "becoming a better person," I was wrong.
My unexpected reaction to fallaciloquences embellished with deceitful humgruffin cover-ups and unnecessary remarks towards my younger brother enraged me.
I couldn't seem to fathom how a immature nanocephalous adult raglan tailored ex-batman and a jean maillot wearing macrotus, labrose, kazachoc like dancing, woman beater callent could make such comments and pass judgment to an abuse victim.
At the moment I was infuriated. Please let my actions be as a lesson as what not to do. You must vastate yourself to aggression and search for other solutions before reacting.
Threatening closet coward human beings only leads their tearful plea for restraining orders, desperate cries for help from "affiliating gang bangers", and countless whiney excuses -I.E. "she hit me first!!" to the media and courts, which could possibly result unwanted circumstances.
As for the once semi high powered homosexual perverts, molesters and child rapists of the Industry, I vaticinate justice will be brought to you on Judgment Day.
I leave this to God though. Please except my apology, obviously knowing the message can always be heard if ears are around . Thank you.
- Ricky Romance

Monday, January 10, 2011

A Rose by Any Other Name

Oh, Corona Light. Were you, perhaps, DRUNK when you created this sign? Or are you holding some other sort of competitive event in the smoky back room of your bar, something to do with fish eggs?

It's a sad thing when a four-letter word gets misspelled, especially one that minds its own business and doesn't break any rules. 

We hate to say it, but Shakespeare had it wrong. A rose by any other name doesn't smell as sweet. It smells like sweat, fermented yeast, and some horny dude's Old Spice. Blecch.

Thanks to the delightful Josh K. for the photo. We know he isn't the one wearing too much Old Spice.