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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).

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Criminal Sentence 593: Baseball Knowhow


The D-Backs are doing well on the field, but the graphics person needs to read my blog! Check out answer A. That would be "every day," meaning each day, not "everyday," meaning ordinary.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Criminal Sentence 592: Bad Bread

From the label of some bread I bought:

"Moms White Bread"

Yummy but not so correct!


Monday, August 29, 2011

Poll Results 148

Here was the question:

What is wrong with this (from a novel)? "Which I wasn't saying to be nice, it's completely true."

You can't start a sentence with a "Which" clause like this.
43 (60%)
You can't use contractions like this.
2 (2%)
The punctuation is incorrect.
21 (29%)
Nothing is wrong.
5 (7%)

Congratulations to 29% of you.

You can start a sentence with a "Which" clause. For more info, see this Grammar Girl episode.

As for the contractions, they're fine.

The punctuation, however, is not fine. You can't just add a sentence to another. You have to add a period after "nice."

Friday, August 26, 2011

Criminal Sentence 591: Can Facts Play?

Anyone who reads this blog regularly knows I'm anti-misplaced modifier. I could point out at least one a day if I wanted, but that would be boring. I do want to point this one out, though; it comes from Tennis magazine, which you'd think would be more with it:

"After years of playing and coaching tennis, two facts emerge."

Fact 1: This sentence is incorrect.
Fact 2: This sentence is annoying!

Who wants to rewrite it for me and make me feel better?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Criminal Sentence 590: Bestselling Author Needs capital Letter

From an article about Stephenie Meyer:

"The woman who would publish meyer, Megan Tingley, was handed the manuscript in November 2003, right before she got on a cross-country flight to California."

The woman has sold almost 100 million books. Let's give her a capital letter!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Poll Results 147

Here was the obviously too easy question:

If your sentence ends with "etc." or something else with a period, do you add another period?

Yes.
3 (3%)
No.
75 (92%)
It depends.
3 (3%)

The next question will be harder!!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Criminal Sentence 589: Whose Got a Dictionary?

From something I edited:

"...a doctor who's mission is the health and well-being of children"

"Whose"/"Who's" is one of those pesky pairs of sound-alikes that can confuse your little brain if you're not careful!

So be extra careful!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Criminal Sentence 588: Never Seen That!

From a blog post:

"...to discover there's a way to die that she hasn't yet scene..."

Perhaps the writer was thinking about scenes, but she hasn't seen her error!

Let's just blame it on her brain. I'm sure she knows the difference between the two words.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Criminal Sentence 587: Here Comes Agreement

A headline in today's paper:

"Here comes 18 months of wasted time"

I would say, "come," since "18 months" is plural. Did the headline writer think of "18 months of wasted time" as a single idea? Seems like a stretch to me! You?

Monday, August 15, 2011

Poll Results 146

Here was the question:

If you see a sign with incorrect grammar or punctuation, what do you do?

You surreptitiously change the sign with a pen, if possible. If it's not possible to change it, you seethe.
21 (36%)
You ignore it.
5 (8%)
You feel upset but control yourself.
29 (50%)
You likely don't even notice it.
3 (5%)

Let's work on those 13% of you who aren't anal about grammar!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Criminal Sentence 586: Money Talk

From a book I'm reading:

"We'd spent all but a few of the $250 with which we'd begun the night."

Something about this is off. "Few" goes with countable nouns, such as dollars, but it doesn't seem to work in this sentence. It's almost as if the writer is suggesting he had 250 $1 bills and only a few were left.

I would go with "little" here. Your opinion?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Criminal Sentence 585: Books for Childrens

I wasn't planning to do a double dose of punctuation mayhem today, but I just visited a blog where I saw an unforgivable (at least in my universe) error. The writer asks, "What is the best childrens book of all time?"

I would say the children's version of Eats Shoots and Leaves, an amusing book about CORRECT PUNCTUATION!!! Eats, Shoots & Leaves: Why, Commas Really Do Make a Difference!


Criminal Sentence 584: I'm Going to "Rest" Now


I know that the word "restroom" is a euphemism "bathroom." No one really rests there; we do other business. Although we sometimes use quotation marks if we're being sarcastic (e.g., I just "love" sausages [hate 'em]), no quotation marks are necessary here.

I would like to peer into the brains of people who like to add quotation marks "here and there."

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Criminal Sentence 583: Bowling for Apostrophes

I'm not fond of this gutter ball from the bowling alley. When I mentioned it to the cashier, he didn't bite my head off. Victory!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Poll Results 145

Here was the question:

What's wrong here? "Amy Winehouse was in the process of adopting a girl from St Lucia, it has been reported."

Punctuation
33 (41%)
Spelling
2 (2%)
Grammar
39 (48%)
Nothing
6 (7%)

Hm. A little teeny period is missing in "St," an abbreviation of "Saint." That's it as far as I can tell!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Criminal Sentence 582: Juvenile Dad

Heard on a TV show (a father was talking about discovering his daughter's blindness):

"At three months old, I began to notice something."

Now that's a young father! "At three months old, I ..." The "I" of this sentence (the father, who is speaking) is not that age!

A better way:

"I began to notice something when she was three months old."

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Criminal Sentence 581: Not So Criminal, Perhaps?

From a blog post on an agent's blog:

"You need to get used to the idea that people will use your words either intentionally or un."

Technically, you can't just stick in a prefix and use it as a whole word. That said, I kind of like this illegal prefix at the end. You?

Monday, August 1, 2011

Poll Results 144

This was the question:

What's wrong with this, seen on a sign at a baseball game? "Put me in coach."

Nothing
3 (5%)
Word choice
3 (5%)
Punctuation
46 (79%)
More than one of these
6 (10%)

I laughed when I saw this sign, so "Nothing" is definitely wrong.

Consider "Put me in coach" and "Put me in first class." Without the comma, the sentence seems to refer to airplane seating.

Yes, you guessed it: A comma is missing, because the sign writer was addressing the baseball coach and requesting to be put into the game.

"Put me in, coach" is correct. Here's another example of this comma, called a comma of address:

"Give me a dollar, coach."