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If you have a writing, grammar, style or punctuation question, send an e-mail message to curiouscase at sign hotmail dot com.

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).

Friday, October 29, 2010

Reader Question: Footsteps

Carrie wants to know this:

When you hear footsteps, do you hear "them" (footsteps) or "it" (the sound of footsteps)? Example: He heard them too; footsteps.)

Well, footsteps is plural, so you would use them; sound is singular, so you would use it:

He heard them too: footsteps. (I would say a colon, not a semicolon, is better there.)
He heard it too: the sound of footsteps.
Footsteps: He heard them too.
The sound of footsteps: He heard it too.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Reader Question: Compounding's

Here is the conundrum:

There is a heading on a page that reads, "Compounding's powerful effects."

Compounding is a verb and appears in lots of financial text, but can this word be possessive?

Answer: In this case, "compounding" is used as a noun. You could turn this around and say, "the powerful effects of compounding."

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Criminal Sentence 466: Typing Trouble

From a Web site:

"When we asked Jamie Lee's publicistf or comment..."


Let's keep our eyes on the words we're typing. This reminds me of a piece of junk mail I got once. It was addressed, cryptically, to Npmmor Ytrmhs. The typist was one letter off for each letter of my name!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Criminal Sentence 465: Think about That Comma

From a blog post:

"Think about it, it happens to many of us when it comes to doing jobs we love."

Think about it. Period. A period--not a comma--separates thoughts like this.

Grammar Girl explains comma splices here.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Poll Results 108

Here was the question:

Did you miss me while I was in Hawaii?
21 (63%)
12 (36%)

So you didn't miss me so much. Waaaaaaah!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Criminal Sentence 464: Peeved Typo

From an online comment:

"a pet peeve of mind"

Oops! That would be a pet peeve of mine!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Criminal Sentence 463: Speed in a Lighter Color

From a comment on my Amazon page:

"The order came with lightening speed!

No bottle blonds here!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Criminal Sentence 462: Painful Sentence

From a book I'm reading (describing childbirth):

"It felt like a vice gripping my stomach."

When I see the word "vice," I think smoking or some other evil thing, not a metal pinching device!

I did look it up, and "vice" is listed as an alternate to "vise," but why use "vice" when a perfectly good "vise" is waiting?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Criminal Sentence 461: Spelling Check

Although I was on vacation, I had to look for typos whenever I wasn't in the ocean. I know it's not the clearest, but at the very bottom, it says, "Repairs and saftey check."

Monday, October 18, 2010

Poll Results 107

Here was the question:

Which sentence is correct?

You should taylor it for specifics.
11 (5%)
The rewards far out way the risks.
7 (3%)
She said that she was able to make
due by staying overnight at local farms.
19 (10%)
Turn the paper over to the backside.
15 (8%)
All are wrong.
133 (71%)

You guys are smart! Congrats to 71% of you.

tailor it
make do
the back side

Friday, October 8, 2010

Criminal Sentence 460: Missing Cyclist

From an online article:

"Before making the week-long bike ride from Virginia to Kentucky, the longest trek she has done so far, typical rides were only one or two days long."

Ah, my friend the misplaced modifier raises his head yet again! Where is the cyclist in this sentence? We have a hint of "she," but this "she" is not making the week-long bike ride!

New Grammar Girl episode: Think Different or Think Differently?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Criminal Sentence 459: Not Five Stars, Starbucks!

From Starbucks:

"As a My Starbucks Rewards Gold level member, we'd like to introduce you to Starbucks® Natural Fusions naturally flavored coffee - with a free sample* and two coupons to use or share

I, for one, like just a plain old latte. No added sugar for me.

What is it with companies? This error is the same as the one I complained about here. In this Starbucks example of a misplaced modifier, the "we" of the sentence is not "a My Starbucks Rewards Gold level member"!


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Criminal Sentence 458: A Prize for Spelling It Right

From a sign:

"We will apprize you of those changes as soon as possible."

And I will apprise you of how to spell!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Criminal Sentence 457: Witchy Bugger!

From an online menu:
  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Cookies
  • Pizzas
  • Bugger
  • Sandwitch
  • Soft Drinks

Monday, October 4, 2010

Poll Results 106

Here was the question:

When you tell family/friends/co-workers that you read this blog, they

Laugh at you for being uptight and weird
22 (56%)
Say, "Wow! I think I'll check it out!"
17 (43%)

I guess we're mostly uptight and weird!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Criminal Sentence 456: I Don't Approve!

From a Web site:

"Simply apply today, and once approved, we'll provide you with all the tools and content you need to succeed."

This sentence makes me ask, "Who is applying and who is approving?" Not we!