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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).

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Criminal Sentence 547: Dawwg Gramma

Something Randy Jackson said on "American Idol" last night:

"You sung..."

Yo, yo. Don't you mean "sang"?

I know he's a musician, not a grammarian, but I've recently heard a number of people using past participles instead of past tense. A common one you might have heard before: "I seen it."

Many times, the past participle is the same as the past-tense form (e.g., "I looked"/"I have looked")--but not always!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Criminal Sentence 546: Two instead of Five

From something I'm editing:

"Two years prior to 1996..."

As far as wordiness goes, this is rather wordy!

How about this:

"In 1994..."

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Criminal Sentence 545: Perpendicular, Not Parallel

From something I read:

"One spoke about religion, another about politics, and the last taught math in school."

There's something non-parallel here. Let's put everything in order:

"One spoke about religion, another discussed politics, and the last taught math in school."

Monday, April 25, 2011

Poll Results 131

Here was the question:

What do you first think when you read this headline? "Falling rolls force schools to be creative"

School enrollment
13 (20%)
Pieces of bread falling from the sky
40 (61%)
12 (18%)

I'm with the 61%. Thanks, Arizona Republic!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Criminal Sentence 544: Aaah!

From a book I'm reading:

"You're dad told you about me, right?"

I'm definitely complaining to "you're" dad! He--"your" dad--will be very upset to see you misuse this word!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Criminal Sentence 543: I Question That!

From something I'm editing:

"A deluge of questions fill the air."

I'm embarrassed to say that I missed this error on my first pass (but not the second, luckily). Did you catch the error?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Criminal Sentence 542: Confused "It's"

It's kind of embarrassing for my children's school, isn't it, that the "it's" should be "its"?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Criminal Sentence 541: Putting Your Cough to Bed

From a book I read:

"Now bedridden, his cough grew worse."

Poor little cough, sitting in bed! Let's help it feel better:

"He was now bedridden, and his cough grew worse."

Monday, April 18, 2011

Poll Results 130

Here was the question:

Which is correct?

Let's hang here awhile.
1 (1%)
Your paycheck barely covers the bills.
5 (6%)
Put on your name tag.
4 (4%)
She went into a tail spin.
3 (3%)
Her hair was in a ponytail.
5 (6%)
None of the answers.
4 (4%)
More than one answer.
60 (73%)

Congrats to 73%. Only "tail spin" is incorrect. It should be "tailspin."

I would also like to say that I'm a doo-fus. Wait a minute. That should be "doofus." In my original explanation, I failed to note that "awhile" is a valid adverb and an alternate spelling of "nametag" is "name tag."
Sorry if there was any confusion.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Criminal Sentence 540: Chicken House or a Political Overthrow?

From something I edited:

"She flew the coup with some lucky man."

A coup, as in a coup d'etat, is what happens when a government is overthrown--not happening in this sentence!
A coop is a place where chickens live, and it's paired with the verb "to fly" to mean to leave.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Criminal Sentence 539: Shoe Shopping

From something I'm editing:

"You, my friend, are a shoe in."

Are you calling me a shoe? Ha!

That should be "shoo-in."

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Criminal Sentence 538: Along Comes a Dictionary!

From something I'm editing:

"A little kindness goes along way."

"Along" with no space is a preposition or an adverb, as in "I ran along the path."

With a space, "a long" pairs up with a noun and describes the length of something, as in "I walked a long way."

Move along to the dictionary, please!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Poll Results 129

Here was the question:

Which phrase is correct?

I was chomping at the bit.
16 (19%)
She whiled away some time.
10 (12%)
He flouted his wealth.
7 (8%)
None of the choices
14 (17%)
More than one of the choices
35 (42%)

Congrats to 12% of you.

The first sentence is incorrect because "champing at the bit" is the correct phrase.
The second sentence is correct because "to while away time" is correct.
The third sentence is incorrect because the correct verb is "to flaunt," not "to flout."

Friday, April 8, 2011

Criminal Sentence 537: Heal Thy Spelling Error

From something I'm editing:

"...dig their heals in deep..."

Someone's in deep!

That should be "heels," those things by your feet, not the verb "to heal," which means to get better.

If your heels hurt, get them healed!

New Grammar Girl Episode: Commas with Participial Phrases

Check this out!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Criminal Sentence 536: Repeating Your Repetition

From something I'm editing:

" icy cold body of water"

As opposed to "an icy warm body of water"?

Let's just pick one and avoid and avoid repetition:

" icy body of water"


"...a cold body of water"

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Criminal Sentence 535: "One" for the Road

Today, I wanted to talk about using the pronoun "one," as in "It gives one hope that tomorrow will be better."

There's nothing wrong with using "one," but it does sound rather formal.

I would go with "you" if you're talking in general terms:

"It gives you hope that tomorrow will be better."

You can send "one" packing!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Criminal Sentence 534: Definitely Crazy

From something I'm editing:

"...before I checked myself into a bonified nuthouse."

I need to Bonnie-fy that spelling: "bona fide."

Monday, April 4, 2011

Poll Results 128

Here was the question:

Which is correct?
A) How long have you known Sam?
B) How long have you known, Sam?

28 (28%)
0 (0%)
Neither A nor B
1 (1%)
Both could be correct.
71 (71%)

Congrats to 71% of you.
You would say A when you are asking how long someone has known an individual named Sam.
You would say B when you are asking Sam how long he has known something.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Criminal Sentence 533: Let's Not

From something I'm editing:

"He let's his experience in the legal system speak for itself."


If you spell out contractions, you can sometimes catch yourself making a boo-boo:

"He let us his experience..."

That doesn't work.

"He lets..."