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Add Your Own Criminal Sentence!

If you find a particularly terrible sentence somewhere, post it for all to see (go here and put it in the Comments section).

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Your Own Criminal Sentence

Post your own finds here.


La Professora said...

I have multiple issues with the following sentence:

"Members who are privy to such rituals take vows the details of their activities
outside the temple."


Aren't journalists supposed to be better at writing than that?

justfoster said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jamie said...

"Pigeon droppings carry disease, destroy bridges and statues."

Source: Metro daily newspaper, New York

The Sentence Sleuth said...

Yes, Jamie, that sentence is definitely criminal. The sentence is not parallel. This is the exact topic of my next column for The Writer (out next Thursday). Seems you know all about it already, Jamie.

Emily said...

Ok, this isn't a sentence so much as a spelling error. When did health care become one word? It drives me nuts! As a copy desk intern, I had it drilled into me on day one that health care was always two words. But I've seen it spelled healthcare and health-care in multiple newspapers and on television. Did I miss something?

The Sentence Sleuth said...

Hi, Emily. My dictionary claims that health care and healthcare are both valid.

Helen said...

"This seems like a logical step for the Silver Lake spot—that neighborhood does seem to love it’s brunch."


Raphael Fernandez said...

I saw this one posted inside a bank: "For security reason, please turn-off your cellphone inside the bank premises."

Should that be: "For security reasons, please turn off your cellphone while inside the bank premises."

I think "turn-off" is used as a verb here and having a dash in the middle would make it as a noun, isn't it?

The Sentence Sleuth said...

Yes, Raphael. Good (I mean, bad!) find.
"For security reasons, please turn off your cellphone while inside the bank premises."
Or you could just shorten even more to "inside the bank."

Pat Iyer said...

I got this email: "I am in the last throws of my work on Tim’s notebook and hopefully will be done within two weeks."

I'm sorry the author is in the throes of the project.

Pat Iyer said...

Watch those laxatives.

"Even though there are many products on the market covering keyword research, they don’t go deep enough. They fall short of creating a process, which gives marketers a near “physic” ability to find products."

Physics are laxatives. Psychics are reputed to have special abilities.

Anonymous said...

A quote from the wrapper of a Dove® Chocolate:

"Make the most of everyday."

I am in suspense! What everyday item does Dove suggest I make the most of? :)

Pat Iyer said...

Seen in an article: "Do you have a marketing plan? I do not believe in rifle-shot marketing."

I think shot gun is the right adjective here.

Helen G said...

Item for sale "black ladies coat, in good condition..."

Source: The Bolton News

HighSociety said...

“The essence of the claims of Activia and DanActive remain unchanged.”

A quote from an NYTimes article ( I could be wrong, but I believe the subject of the sentence is "essence" so shouldn't it be "remains unchanged" instead of "remain unchanged"?

The Sentence Sleuth said...

"Essence" is the singular subject, so the verb should be "remains."
Good find.

Jenifer said...

From Disney's website regarding a pirate lunch for kids:

At least two Cast Members accompany the children, which are all CPR certified.

Ignoring which vs who, does this mean they certify the children in CPR as part of the program?

The Sentence Sleuth said...

Yikes! That is definitely criminal! You're right that the "which" clause seems to modify "children" (who would normally get a "that").
This would be much better:
"At least two CPR-certified Cast Members accompany the children."

Yvonne Perry said...

Review: Cast Robert Downey Jr. in 'Sherlock Holmes' and get a performances that overshadows a few problems

Found at

Pat Iyer said...

Referring to a child who got the wrong total parenteral nutrition (TPN) solution: "In July 2006, at the age of five, the defendant pharmacist filled and released a seven-day supply of TPN for the child." The pharmacist must have been standing on a large stool to reach the counter.

Anonymous said...

Large sign on a fried chicken store: BREAST MEAL DEAL!

The sign remained in place for about a week before it was removed.

The Sentence Sleuth said...

Yikes! Good one!

Anonymous said...

This sign was outside a local roof company:

"Closed due to leaking roof"

I had to laugh.

Jake P. said...

On a box at a hospital reception desk:


(Yes, I refrained from asking if they had any mustachioed silent-movie stars available.)

ChildsPlay said...

I see this a lot in the south. People are tring to sound familiar in their writting, so they say "y'all" instead of "you." I don't have a problem with that. I have a problem when they spell in "ya'll." What is that a contraction for? "Ya all"? Even my daughter's kindergarten teacher had "ya'll" on a letter she sent home.

The Sentence Sleuth said...

ChildsPlay: Ya'll is a contraction of you all. It's a Southern thing.

ChildsPlay said...

I understand, but shouldn't the contraction be "y'all" instead of "ya'll"?

The Sentence Sleuth said...

ChildsPlay: Y'all're right! (Y'all is correct.)

Rebecca said...

A sign in the locker room read “Stop the spread of Cryptosporidium. Please take a cleansing shower before entering the pool, paying special attention to the area below the waste.”

The Sentence Sleuth said...

Rebecca! Yikes! Good catch.

ChildsPlay said...

My company's helpdesk is fond of this expression: very soon technician will do the needful.

The Sentence Sleuth said...

ChildsPlay: That is quite awful!

Anonymous said...

Not really a terrible sentence, but it is terribly funny (I think)

"I have recently been diagnosed with Esophageal cancer, which has defiled all medical treatment."


Anonymous said...

Not really a terrible sentence, but it is terribly funny (I think)

"I have recently been diagnosed with Esophageal cancer, which has defiled all medical treatment."


jstme said...

Not really a terrible sentence, but it is terribly funny (I think)

"I have recently been diagnosed with Esophageal cancer, which has defiled all medical treatment."

Laura said...

This notice is on my local Kroger gas station pump:

"Kroger does not put 'holds' on it's customer's bank care accounts."

Two apostrophe errors in one sentence bring out my inner Grammar Nazi.

ChildsPlay said...

Laura, it's sad that Kroger has just that one customer.

ChildsPlay said...

This is from an AP story about The Rev. Jeremiah Wright:
"I am 'radioactive,' Sir. When Obama threw me under the bus, he threw me under the bus literally!" he wrote.

Really? He was literally thrown under a bus?

Pat Iyer said...

A person who wanted me to work with him exhorted me not to "loose site" of the benefits of his services.

Pat Iyer said...

Sentence found in a nurse's report: "The doctor came up at 1 PM to write on the patient." Although the author meant he wrote on the chart, I began to wonder what part of the body he wrote on. . . the torso, the leg, or elsewhere.

The Sentence Sleuth said...

You guys have come up with some great (terrible!) sentences. Keep 'em coming!

Sharon said...

It pains me to post this sentence because the subject is so serious:

"Borba keeps a picture of an 11-year-old boy who was bullied to death in her pocket as a reminder of what can happen when bullying goes unchecked."


The link was on

Pat said...

My sister's painting teacher sent out an email about an auction of paintings for an event to raise money for a food bank. In it, he wrote "Precipitating artists may attend at no charge."

We attended a wedding near the Tappan Zee Bridge, which spans the Hudson River. The directions said, "The Principal diving directions are from the Tappan Zee Bridge." Puncutation and spelling are verbatim. At least the facility did not mix up principle and principal.

Rebecca said...

My soon-to-be supervisor (he's getting promoted) just said in staff meeting this week, "Someone needs to take onus of this."

The Sentence Sleuth said...

Has anyone ever pointed out errors to the offenders?

benritmato said...

"In an interview with NPR blues singer and pianist Marcia Ball stated that "Boogie woogie started out with a bunch of different names, depending on where you were."


ChildsPlay said...

A mixed metaphor that drives me crazy:

I think the big pink elephant in the room is....

crafterly said...

Police responded to the house on Illahee Road in East Bremerton around 5 p.m. on Friday. Darlene Green sitting on the porch, officers said, and her husband was found dead from a gunshot wound in the living room.

This is from an article on June 21, 2010.

Just were on the human body is the living room?

ChildsPlay said...

He turned and went away in a range.

ChildsPlay said...

"It only takes about 3-1/2 minutes per pound, and can be done on the driveway with a turkey friar...."

A turkey friar -- what denomination is that?

Westley said...

Found on a government web site (
Please note that the July 2007 revision of the minimum wage poster, reflecting the 2007 amendments to the Fair Labor Standards Act, is still valid and employers may continue to post them.

The problem I have is that the poster is singular at the beginning of the sentence, yet it becomes plural at the end. I suppose it got through the editing process because of the long interrupting phrase (though the singular verb is rather close to the plural ‘them’).

crafterly said...

From an article at
"Meagan, Lauren and Lindsay Cowher all followed their mothers' footsteps into Division I college basketball."

They had only one mother, it should be mother's. Methinks the writers got confused between the daughters and footsteps.

The Sentence Sleuth said...

I agree. Don't let non-relevant words distract you!

ChildsPlay said...

I just saw this question on a job application. The name of the company has been changed to preserve my chances of getting a job.

Do you also acknowledge that you have been advised that [company] and its related or affiliated entities is an Equal Opportunity Employer that administers its employment policies in a nondiscriminatory manor?

I wonder where this "nondiscriminatory manor" is?

Tricia said...

Seen in a Boston Globe headline: "Gorilla at Boston zoo expecting 3rd child."

The Sentence Sleuth said...

Love it, ChildsPlay (I mean, hate it!).
Manor vs manner!

Max said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Max said...

"The predictive power of chaos theory and the efficiency of some markets could stun you, keep you up at night with excitement." -University of Chicago

This sentence was part of a terribly-constructed letter that the university sent to potential applicants. Needless to say, I was quite disappointed.

The Sentence Sleuth said...

Dear Max, and everyone else,

I would say that the comma before "keep" would be allowed.

Take this example: "I love you, really love you." This is fine because there is an implied second instance of the part "I love."

You would write this kind of sentence to avoid repeating yourself and to make what you're writing stand out.

This particular sentence about chaos theory might be better if you add "could" again:

"The predictive power of chaos theory and the efficiency of some markets could stun you, could keep you up at night with excitement."

Max said...

Thanks for the correction! Okay, here's one I also don't think is correct:

"Alayna's condition has improved since she started treatment but was not discussed at Thursday's hearing."


The Sentence Sleuth said...

Well, Max, I agree that it is not the best sentence, but it is grammatical, since two parts of the sentence go with "Her condition:
1. has improved since she started treatment
2. was not discussed at Thursday's hearing
It would be better to reword the sentence in some way, like this: "Although Alayna's condition has improved since she started treatment, her status was not discussed at Thursday's hearing."

ChildsPlay said...

"The Republican Party has lost its way," O'Donnell said. "They get behind candidates like my opponent who don't even support the Republican platform, who continue to support the Democrats' agenda, lock-step-and-barrel."

Anonymous said...

Found this on a website dedicated to mad scientists. "By using this primitive machine, Bryukhonenko kept the heads of severed dogs alive."

The Sentence Sleuth said...

Anon, what exactly is the problem with this? I do think someone really did deal with severed heads. (Ick!)

Carrie said...

"I've learned more about God as a father threw my children."

(Found on Facebook.)

Don't get me wrong. I love God as a father too. But maybe I wouldn't if he threw my children.

James said...

I looked at this sentence and moaned.
"Next year I be one year older."

1. Is this person in a tautology club? Redundancy is in two places.
A. The sentence itself is a tautology.
B. Well I hope next year you will be one year and not three years older. The word one is redundant.
2. Omission of will. That bugs me to no end.

I wish I could tell the source but I could not find it again.

Pat Iyer said...

"North Dakota has a bad wrap."

I envision scores of people being treated for food poisoning.

The Sentence Sleuth said...

Wonderful awfulness!

Debbie Littlejohn said...

Here's my most recent find:

"Alert warns that thieves are handing out key rings at gas stations which enable them to track potential victims."

ChildsPlay said...

"Daniel Day-Lewis to play President Lincoln in Steven Spielberg biopic"

Why is President Lincoln in a movie about Steven Spielberg?

James said...

Me again.
I took a online, English test. two things came up I don't know the answer to but I'm sure they are wrong about. Another one drove me insane.
and I realizedX
than I realized
did I realizeX
had I realizedX

No sooner had I opened my front door ..... that something was wrong.

I have always heard "Did I realize," but I was never sure. I have no idea about this one.

would never leaveX
would never have left
had never leftX
will never have leftX

People were different in those days. However he treated her, my grandmother ..... my grandfather.

Is this right or wrong? It seems wrong, but I am no expert.

Wall Street Institute
School Of English

Just seems wrong again. Once again I don't know. This next one I do know.

remind me
remember me x
remember to me x
remind me of x

Are you sure we've never met? You ..... someone I used to know.

I'm never going to this school.

mmmmmmm!! said...

This was written on a sign at the flower shop near my house:

Valentine's is hear.

I thought it might be a pun. I think it is just an error.

Karen said...

From the February 2011 issue of Arizona Attorney:
"'Notes for a Law Lecture', written by Abraham Lincoln, are dated July 1, 1850, making them, maybe, 160 1/2 years old."
'Notes for a Law Lecture' is presented as a title, and so the verb should be singular, not plural. But Arizona is reluctant to follow laws, grammar or otherwise.

Jenro93 said...

I am reading The Hunger Games,by Suzanne Collins. I found the following sentence in Chapter 11-- "And a half-gallon plastic bottle with a cap for carrying water that is bone dry."

ChildsPlay said...

From the news last night:

We are looking now at homes damaged from HD Chopper 8.

I would think the big story is why is a news helicopter damaging homes.

The Sentence Sleuth said...

Ha, ha, ChildsPlay. Have you dared point this out the source of the error?

The Sentence Sleuth said...

Jenro93: Water that is bone dry? Ha ha!!

That's a classic case of what happens when you try to cram too much into one sentence.

putra saburai said...

i have a complicated sentence (at least for me, it's complicated). here it is:
" I just realized that that that was written in the white board was ungrammatical"

crafterly said...

I found this in the publisher's summary section of an audio book. "...paths half a world apart when their plan to emigrate to America falls afoul of war..." I thought you immigrate to a place and emigrate from a place. Not sure that the publisher had someone proofread the summary. :)

Chelle said...

From a retail store's Facebook page: Whose going to see Soul Surfer?

I commented, "Shouldn't it be 'who's' as in 'who is?'"

Their post was deleted within an hour.

Warsaw Will said...

This is from Rolling Stone about 'Like a Rolling Stone'

When he took The Band on tour in Europe and Australia the next year nobody disputes that many in the crowd were livid over Dylan "going electric." The anger in the crowd only spurned Dylan on, leading to some of the most intense performances of his career.

The Sentence Sleuth said...

Yes, Chelle. It should be "Who's," as in "Who is." Good catch!

ChildsPlay said...

This was the subject on a volunteer email I received:

Hero's helping Hero's

Chelle said...

From Billings Gazette this morning: "After engineers spent most of Saturday unsuccessfully trying to break a large slab of sandstone from the Rimrocks, a separate chunk fell about three miles to the west above 38th Street West and Laredo Place."

I would think they mean to say "...three miles to the west, a separate chunk fell..."

ChildsPlay said...

A commercial on the radio this morning was encouraging listeners not to put off getting mom a gift for Mother's Day. The wording, however, was unfortunate.

Don't waste time on Mother's Day.


crafterly said...

This was a header online at a local news station's website. I understand there are space limitations when trying to grab the attention of its readers, but this was just too funny not to pass on to you.

"Teen injured when boat capsized off Camano Island dies"

By Shomari Stone & KOMO Staff

The Sentence Sleuth said...

Crafterly, yes, a very weird sentence! Thanks for sharing!

Rohit said...

regd pronoun .. is this sentence correct

i bought myself a car
should i use
i bought me a car

The Sentence Sleuth said...

Rohit: I bought myself a car. "Myself" is a reflexive pronoun. It refers back to "I." Another example: "She bought herself a car."

Agent Scully said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
lilfroggyp said...

News headline: Man Allegedly Taped Other Men Inside Riffe Office Tower Restroom

I thought there was duct tape involved at first!

Kurt said...

Is this a bad sentence?

"A pilot's final words before his doomed private jet plunged into a house in Kent have been replayed at an inquest into the deaths of its five occupants."

From My Hands to Yours said...

"NASA Astronaut Returns Flag To Army Flown In Space"

(I didn't know we had a rocket big enough to put an entire army in space.)

The Sentence Sleuth said...

That space one is funny! Thanks for sharing!

ChildsPlay said...

Conversation heard on CNN:

Weatherperson: Temperatures in the South are 10 degrees above average.
Anchor: That's typical for the South.

No, it's 10 degrees above typical!

crafterly said...

Editor's note: The Fisher's have set up a fund for researching Fanconi anemia at Information on Fanconi anemia is available at

One of my biggest pet peeves. The poor abused apostrophe. Might want to find a new editor. This was an online article so the editor probably didn't type the content,but certainly should have proofreader it!

ChildsPlay said...

Here is an example of gender-inclusive language gone awry in this instruction from a game:

* She then runs back to his team and lays the word down.

Susan G said...

With the current listeria outbreak and my curiosity about the bacteria, I came upon this sentence in an article titled "How Can I Tell if I have Food Poisoning?":

"Finally, some bacteria produce toxic substances that cause diarrhea and/or vomiting in the food before it is eaten."



Tom said...

It isn't a sentence, but my all-time favorite is seen on signs in Waffle House restaurants:

Shirts Must Be Worn To Be Served.

I should think so! I wouldn't serve an unworn shirt. Would you?

Also, you yourself wrote on grammar.quickanddirtytips (shall, will), "This does seem to offer a different connotation than 'One day you will know my full story.'" Should be different FROM. My, my....

Tom said...

A highway sign:

Expect Delays When Flashing

I think In would expect delays if I were flashing!!!

The Sentence Sleuth said...

Good ones, Tom.
You're right that "different from" is preferred. Thanks for pointing out my inadequacies!:)

crafterly said...

"Yakima officer fatally shoots man with knife"

This is the header of news story I found this on a news website.

My first thought was how do you shoot someone with a knife. Then it dawned on me, a few seconds later, the man was holding the knife. :)

Wayne and Sue Rasmussen said...

I saw this in a book I was reading. The names have been changed to protect the innocent!

Wayne rarely ever had refused Sue’s chocolate cake, no matter how last minute thrown together

~Crystal A Murray said...

Here's one from the Army Wives blog comments...

"Pamela's house was destroyed in the huricane and had to stay at a shelter."

I thought about adding a smiley face with the words "poor house" next to it, but due to all the spelling mistakes in the rest of the post, I thought I'd just share it here instead.

Anonymous said...

"They are all; as a group; overshadowed by the health and safety risks for these poor women."

Tory Nelson said...

At the age of 8, Betty Smithey’s mother died.

Anonymous said...

"Whenever, new smoking locations are created; there are complaints."

Anonymous said...

From an AOL Welcome Page teaser for an article about knives:

"A new option boats extra sharpness and lighter weight, but there are two very good reasons you may want to stick with the classics."

Unknown said...

I came across this sentence in an essay by Chris Hitchens about Hugo Chavez:

"In the fall of 2008, I went to Venezuela as a guest of Sean Penn's whose friendship with Chavez is warm."

Ok, this is a garden variety double possessive which is supposedly allowed because Penn is a live person, not a thing. However, why not just say "a guest of Sean Penn"? Isn't that perfectly clear? There is simply no need for the possessive here--or am I wrong?

Patrick Foy

Jeff Straathof said...

Lyfe Kitchen, a sizable food company, inadvertantly promotes ordinary food in its tagline: Love your food everyday.

profeclipse said...

From an online developer trade magazine:

"...and the publisher’s benchmarks on video and audio performance put them eight-to-ten times more superior than current gen hardware."

Is there a unit of measure for superiority? Perhaps the superion? Measured with a superiometer?

I'd say that sentence has a bogosity factor of eight-to-ten. That's right - bogosity. The relative amount of bogusness present in a thing. Measured with a bogometer.

Jane said...

Seen on a newspaper placard:

"Filthy restaurant owner given suspended sentence"

I do hope they also gave him a shower.

Dr. Grime said...

Instead of being ushered out in handcuffs by police, some patrons of the symphony — and some symphony members themselves — applauded the tuneful message. The group left on their own after about a minute and a half of singing, while they chanted “Blacks Lives Matter.

[source -]

Dar C said...

My comment is about the "is, is';
for instance:

"Point is, is that if you're trying..." taken from the script of a tv show.

Though if hardly matters which show, since this mistake is becoming rather common, this particular "is, is" happens to be from "Castle," season 1 episode 3, about 5 minutes into the show. You can see that it is also transcribed this way @:

I don't know if it was written this way in the original, official script.

My sincere hope is that we as an English-speaking people will somehow manage to stop this silly mistake, but my fear is that it might have already become too ingrained.

inquisitivebearza said...

I came up against this when I was editing an anti-corruption policy:

"Conflict of interest involves an employee or trustee acting, or failing to act, on a matter where the employee or trustee has an interest, or another person or entity that stands in a relationship with the employee or trustee has an interest."

The author insists it is both clear and grammatical.