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Monday, December 7, 2009

Poll Results 65

Here was the question:

How many things are wrong here? "With more value than ever, you’ll find unbeatable deals in every section on everything from travel and entertainment to fashion, grocery and more."

Definitely one
8 (9%)
Definitely two
16 (19%)
Two if you're picky
6 (7%)
Definitely three
31 (37%)
Three if you're picky
21 (25%)

Let's have a look:
Definite error 1: "With more value than ever, you'll..." "You" does not have more value than ever. That's a misplaced modifier.
Definite error 2: "...unbeatable deals in every section on everything..." Another misplaced modifier. The words "in every section" are in the way. This part of the sentence should read "unbeatable deals on everything."
Potential error: The phrasing "everything from travel and entertainment to fashion, grocery and more" is questionable. You could argue that the "and more" section is wordy and unnecessary, but technically it's not wrong. It would probably be better to say, "everything from travel and entertainment to fashion and grocery."
Congrats to 25% of you.


Westley said...

I was really looking forward to your analysis of this one. After discussing it with a few others, we decided that the correct answer was FOUR (if you’re picky)! But then you came up with different errors than we had found. :-)

We agreed on the misplaced intro phrase not referring to the subject of the sentence, but from there on we have a different viewpoint.

There is a comparison mismatch in the list of unbeatable deals where the first item is ‘travel and entertainment’ and the rest are ‘fashion,’ ‘grocery,’ and ‘more.’ What we have is a pair in parallel with three singles.

Taking the root of the parallel structure and putting it with each individual item (as you suggested to check), we found ‘deals on travel,’ ‘deals on entertainment,’ ‘deals on fashion,’ ‘deals on grocery,’ and ‘deals on more.’ We thought the grocery item should be plural to sound better: ‘deals on groceries.’

The last item we found was the ‘picky’ one. Our group seems to prefer the Cambridge Comma, so we would have put another comma right before the ‘and’ at the end of the list.

Love the work you’re doing! And I really enjoyed the current question. I may have to let Santa give me the Misplaced Modifier for Christmas. :-)

The Sentence Sleuth said...

Westley, you seem to be correct on the grocery/groceries item. Who knew a sentence could be so bad!
As far as the comma, please read my latest column at It talks about how it's a grammar myth that you need to put a comma before the last of a series. It's a style, not a rule, unless the sentence would be confusing without the comma.

george.morten said...

I, too, was troubled by the "" comparisons. I'm not aware of any commonly-known lists which would work in this sentence, unless one were to use something like "from apples to zebras", in which case the "a" to "z" (or colloquially, "soup to nuts") comparison is easily understood. But really, what comes after 'travel', or 'fashion'? To my eye, this is a nonsense comparison, one that says nothing useful.

The Sentence Sleuth said...

You're right, George. It is a bunch of blather!