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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).

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Criminal Sentence 629: Number Nonsense

A story in today's paper has the headline "Obama, Romney make a few factual missteps." But then the last line of this article is this:

"In 2012, that favorability figure had fallen to 80 percent to 14 percent."


The sentence before read "In 2008, 84 percent of the world had a positive view of the United States and 14 percent negative."

Based on this sentence, I guess they meant to say

"In 2012, that favorability figure had fallen to 80 percent."

Friday, October 19, 2012

Criminal Sentence 628: Slwightly Misspelled

I was reading a national publication and came across this sentence:

"Consumer prices nudged up slwightly in 2012, so the average retiree, who gets $1,237 a month, will see an increase of just about $18."

I was slwightly disturbed the magazine didn't use Spell Check!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Criminal Sentence 626: Bad Bag

I was in NYC recently and saw this fancy bag for sale (price: $360).

It tells me not to judge a book by "it's" cover. Yikes! I won't judge a book, but I will judge this bag!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Criminal Sentence 625: Heard It All Before

From a book I just finished:

"My breath hitches."

There isn't actually anything wrong with this. My complaint is that this sentence appeared every few pages (the woman was quite breathless throughout the book because she was in lust).

I kept noticing this sentence, and it started to bug me. My advice here is to vary what you say so that readers notice your story, not your vocabulary.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Criminal Sentence 624: MMs still alive and well

I've been a way from the blog for a while, but today's Criminal Sentence proves that poor grammar is alive and well.

From today's paper, in a column about Arizona's immigration law and the Supreme Court's recent decision:

"After some time spent monitoring the media coverage, it became clear why."

Sorry, but that sentence is not at all clear!

Who is spending some time monitoring the media coverage? (Answer: the man who wrote the article; he's the paper's columnist about TV and movies.) He could have written any number of clearer sentences, including this version:

"After I spent some time monitoring the media coverage, it became clear why."

This error is called a "misplaced modifier" (abbreviated MM in the post's title). This blog is full of examples. Maybe one day I won't have to complain about them.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Criminal Sentence 623: Capitol?

From the joke-filled insert to "A Fish Called Wanda," one of my favorite comedies:

"Not surprisingly, Orocha, Spain is the scuba diving capitol of the world."

The word "capitol" refers to a building, such as the Capitol  in Washington, D.C.

There's also a comma error here: "Orocha, Spain is..." should be "Orocha, Spain, is..."

My apologies for being away for so long. I will try to post more regularly.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Criminal Sentence 622: Wrong Team

From today's paper:

"Our neighborhood is teaming with kids still in the single-digit ages."

Yikes! That would be "teeming"!

Kids are on a baseball team, but many kids teem.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Criminal Sentence 621: Due for a Spell Check

From something I'm editing:

"It was difficult living with a dog in the apartment, but we made due."

Uh-oh. That would be "made do."

Monday, March 5, 2012

Poll Results 170

Here was the question:

Is this sentence correct? "Jet fuel poured down the surface of Turn 3 at Daytona International Speedway, creating a fiery lasting image of NASCAR's biggest race of the year."

18 (36%)
32 (64%)

I agree with 64%. The order of the adjectives seemed odd to me. I would have said, "...creating a lasting fiery image..."

The image was fiery, and the fiery image was lasting.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Criminal Sentence 620: On the Mat

From something I'm editing:

"We stopped at the local laundry mat."

Just had to laugh there.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Poll Results 169

Sorry about the delay. I've been moving, and things have been crazy.

Here are the results of the latest poll:

How many definitely wrong errors are in this sentence? "A super-skilled Agent will setup and secure your network and three devices."

2 (2%)
12 (17%)
37 (54%)
17 (25%)

I agree with 54% of you. The two errors are as follows:

1) "Agent" does not need to be initial capped.
2) "setup" needs to have a space: "set up."

Tell me what third error you saw!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Poll Results 168

Here was the question:

Did the salon get it right when it posted this sign? "Our customers have been asking us how much they should tip?"

15 (31%)
31 (64%)
2 (4%)

I agree with 64% of you. The sentence concerns a question but is not itself a question; therefore, a period, not a question mark, is needed at the end.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

My apologies to blog readers

I know I haven't posted that much this year, and I wanted to apologize! It's an extremely busy month. I promise to get back to complaining about others' grammar and punctuation soon!

Poll Results 167

Here was the question:

Which is correct?

"I’m off to confess, my love."
0 (0%)
"I’m off to confess my love."
7 (15%)
Either could be right.
37 (82%)
Neither is right.
1 (2%)

Congrats to 82% of you; either could be right.

The first involves someone telling his/her significant other that he/she is going to confess.
The second involves someone announcing that he/he is going to admit he/she loves someone.

Those are quite different meanings but just one little comma!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Poll Results 166

Here was the question:

What is wrong with this Spanish sign: "Feliz Ano Nuevo"?

I don't know; I don't speak Spanish.
5 (17%)
The spelling is incorrect.
1 (3%)
An accent or Spanish-only letter is wrong.
23 (79%)

Que bueno! Good job, 79% of you. I saw this sign and was reminded of the most embarrassing situation I ever got myself into.

Background: I have studied various languages, including Spanish and Japanese. Sometimes when I am speaking Spanish, for example, a Japanese word will creep in unintended.

So here's the story: I was in Mexico and had just ordered dinner in the restaurant attached to the hotel where I was staying. I ordered in Spanish with no problem. Just after the waiter left with my order, I felt a wave of nausea (perhaps Montezuma's revenge was on the way!). So I called the waiter over, and my intention was to ask him to make it a to-go order. While fighting nausea, I haltingly explained what I wanted, and the waiter had a stunned expression on his face from almost the beginning. He eventually understood me. Later I realized what had happened. I had thought I said, "I, um, would like to, um, take this food back to my, um, room" but I had used the Japanese word for "um." This Japanese word is "ano." Turns out that "ano" means "anus" in Spanish, so I was saying, "I, anus, would like to, anus, take this food back to my, anus, room." In Spanish, "ano" is "anus" and "año" is "year."

This sign, "Feliz Ano Nuevo," then, says, "Happy New Anus"!!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Poll Results 165

Here was the question:

What, if anything, is wrong here? "In cases where information here should take precedent over the official guides, it will be very clearly stated with the explanation."

Nothing is wrong.
3 (8%)
Nothing is wrong, but the sentence could be edited down.
10 (28%)
The spelling is wrong.
4 (11%)
The spelling is wrong, and the sentence could be edited down.
3 (8%)
The grammar is wrong.
1 (2%)
The grammar is wrong, and the sentence could be edited down.
14 (40%)

Congratulations to 40% of you. One definitely wrong item is "precedent," which should be "precedence." In addition, the comparison of "information" to "style guides" is not grammatical. Further, the sentence is wordy. I would rewrite as follows:

"The explanation will clearly state when information here should take precedence over that in the official guides."

Still not perfect, but much better!

(P.S. I probably should have added another choice: "The spelling and grammar are wrong, and the sentence could be edited down." Sorry about that oversight!)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Poll Results 164

Here was the last question of the year:

Anything wrong here? "The judge motioned for the guards to sit him back down."

40 (75%)
13 (24%)

Congrats to 24% of you. The potential for error was in the word "sit." Is it transitive (takes an object) or intransitive (doesn't take an object)? A quick dictionary check indicates it's both.

Why did 75% of you think there was a mistake?