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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, July 28, 2011

Criminal Sentence 580: Jumbo Boo-Boo

From the jumbo screen at the baseball park:

"the Rockie's"

Does anyone root for the Colorado Rockie or is it the Rockies? :)

Monday, July 25, 2011

Poll Results 143

Here was the question:

What's wrong here? "In addition to eating calcium-rich foods, she also takes daily calcium pills."

14 (32%)
4 (9%)
9 (20%)
16 (37%)

Well, I agree with 37% of you. It's wordy because you don't need "In addition" and "also" in one sentence. Just one gives off the impression of plurality.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Criminal Sentence 579: Run-on Question

From a baseball Q&A in today's paper:

"Last year you were in the All-Star Game, do you rather participate in it or relax during the break?"

I'll bet that when the reporter asked the player this question, the journalist paused for a few beats after saying, "All-Star Game." That's because this is the end of a sentence, and it needs a period; this first part is just a statement. The question actually begins with the "Do you" part. Here's the correct punctuation:

"Last year you were in the All-Star Game. Do you rather participate in it or relax during the break?"

I guess I won't comment on the oddness of "Do you rather participate." "Do you prefer participating ... relaxing ..." would be better, don't you think?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Criminal Sentence 578: Help Me, Verb. Help, Help Me, Verb.

From today's paper:

"Maybe older people have more experience and been burned a few more times."

This sentence made me sing that old Beach Boys song "Help Me, Rhonda," though I substituted the word "verb" for the lady's name. An additional helping verb, otherwise known as an auxiliary verb, would be very helpful in this sentence.

The original is not wrong, but it made me do a double take when I got to "been." I was expecting another present tense verb: "have more experience and do such and such," for example. Just add another "have" and we're set:

"Maybe older people have more experience and HAVE been burned a few more times."

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Criminal Sentence 577: Bad News

From a Facebook post ( FB is a gold mine!):

"That's great new's."


Monday, July 18, 2011

Poll Results 142

Here was the question:

What is wrong here (from a book on 18th-century medicine)? "Not only could hospital surgeons earn fees from teaching apprentices and house pupils; their private practice benefited from their leap in status."

2 (4%)
27 (60%)
0 (0%)
16 (35%)

Congratulations to 60% of you. The semicolon in the middle of the sentence should be a comma. One use of semicolons is to separate two complete sentences, but the "not only" part is not a sentence.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Criminal Sentence 576: Now That's Dumb!

A reader's comment about an article on results of a standardized writing test:

"We always knew the west side was dumber then dirt..."

Who's the dumb one here, dear commenter?

("Then" should be "than.")

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Criminal Sentence 575: Competing for Spelling Champion of the World

From today's paper (about what to expect in the second half of the baseball season):

"Starting pitchers have collected 11 compete games..."

I hope the pitchers compete while they compLete games!

P.S. This is an example of why Spell Check doesn't wok--I mean, work!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Criminal Sentence 574: A Personal Adverb

A quote from All-Star MVP Prince Fielder:

“I didn’t take it too personal.”

Great at hitting home runs. Not so great at adding that "ly," which would turn "personal" into "personally."

I won't take it personally.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Criminal Sentence 573: Alrighty Then

A text I received:


Good for texting. Not good for real writing. "All right" would be correct.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Poll Results 141

Here was the question:

What's wrong with this sentence? "The most interesting third person narratives jump into character's heads to show their thought processes."

Verb problem(s)
2 (2%)
Punctuation problem(s)
35 (46%)
Grammar problem(s)
18 (23%)
More than one of these problems.
21 (27%)

Congrats to 46% of you. The main error is that "character's" should be "characters'," since you are talking about more than one character. A minor error is another punctuation problem, a missing hyphen in "third-person narratives."

Friday, July 8, 2011

Nice Recommendation of "The Curious Case of the Misplaced Modifier"

Check out this article that recommends my book! It's reviewed in the last paragraph under "Grammar and Writing."

Criminal Sentence 572: Word Order Crime

A caption from today's paper:

"Casey Anthony will be freed July 17 after she was acquitted of first-degree murder."

Someone needs to be arrested for this sentence! I had to read it several times because it was so weird. Let's banish the word "after":

"Casey Anthony, who was acquitted of first-degree murder, will be freed July 17."

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Criminal Sentence 571: Clothing at the Airport?

A sign (at an airport) shown on the cartoon my son is watching:

"Hanger 25"

Although I'm not following the plot, I'm pretty sure it was supposed to say "Hangar 25."

A hanger goes with clothes but a hangar goes with airplanes!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Criminal Sentence 570: Repetitive Fruit

From a grocery ad:

"Sale on cantaloupe melons"

As opposed to cantaloupe cucumbers?

The word "melons" seems unnecessary here. The only reason to use the word "melons" seems to be to explain what kind of fruit a cantaloupe is. Anyone other than ESL students not know this?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, July 1, 2011

Criminal Sentence 569: Stationary Equals Non-Moving

Fuzzy spelling here. Those items that you write letters on are called stationery ("letters" contains the letter "e," as does the word "stationery"). "Stationery" is a noun. "Stationary," on the other hand, is an adjective that means not moving, as in a stationary bicycle.