Archive for the ‘spelling’ Category

What is the value of one “M”? Spelling error costs one county $4,000.

Monday, July 6th, 2015

Some say spelling does not matter in today's world of shortened messaging, but at least one county government thinks spelling is important enough to pay $4,000 plus ten days' labor costs to add adhesive labels with a needed "M" to ten signs with the word COMMISSIONER spelled incorrectly, My thanks to regular reader Joe C. for sharing this article.


Newspapers Still Need Copy Editors!

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015

Newspaper reporters and columnists can no longer rely on copy editors to polish their usage and grammar. More than one of them has actually thanked Grammar Glitch Central for pointing out an error or two. There should be someone at the newspaper office whose job it is to know good writing standards and apply them while proofreading. These days that is not happening. Reporters write their own copy, do their own proofreading, and click SEND.

Recently, a new problem is cropping up. Even if the reporters get it right, whoever creates the photo captions, headlines, and sidebars is making careless errors that detract from the quality of the reporting. That person ought to have a good command of standard writing skills and a desire to proofread for correctness. In ONE issue of The Birmingham News this past week, the following errors appeared in headlines, captions, and sidebars:

Whoops #1: In an article about the gyrocopter that landed in DC, the Tribune News Service reporter correctly stated that the pilot must stay away from the CAPITOL (the building), but the photographic caption says that "Doug Hughes landed on the grass in front of the United States CAPITAL on Wednesday." CAPITAL refers to the entire city. CAPITOL is the building in front of which Hughes landed.

Whoops #2: Columnist Edward Bowser correctly named the Birmingham Children's THEATRE when he referred to it numerous times in his article about their wonderful program of taking performances to schools. However, the headline for his column is this: "Birmingham Children's THEATER brings magic of stage to schools." Perhaps the incorrect spelling of a proper name is not a big deal, but I'm sure that group consciously chose to use the THEATRE spelling, and it would not have taken the headline creator more than a minute to check the website for the proper spelling–especially since Bowser had handed that person the correct spelling.

Whoops #3: In Mike Oliver's creepy but informative article about Alabama's 58 spider varieties, Mike correctly spelled RECLUSE when he listed the brown recluse as one of the three highly venomous spiders in the state. However, the caption next to the photo of this spider refers to it as the Brown RECLUDE Spider.

Whoops #4: In a sidebar that summarizes the details of an article about Alabama's pro-life legislature and the abortion issue, the first bullet contains this grammatically incorrect sentence: "Women must receive counseling designed to discourage her from having an abortion." WOMEN is plural. Therefore, the correct pronoun would be THEY. The sentence should be worded one of two ways: 1) WOMEN must receive counseling to discourage THEM from having ABORTIONS. or 2) A WOMAN must receive counseling to discourage HER from having an abortion.

Whoops #5: Those who create photo captions should understand where commas should go and, more importantly, where they should not go. One comma "rule" is that, if a title comes before a person's name, it is not necessary to set that name off (like an appositive) with commas. A second "rule" is that a subject should not be separated from a verb by a comma. In this sentence from a caption about a tour of a school campus, the comma between WILLIAMS and LEADS is incorrect: "Here, former Hoover schools Superintendent Connie Williams, leads faculty and parents from Shades Mountain Christian Schoool on a tour…."

It should not be unreasonable to expect a better level of correct usage than this. These are not acceptable errors.

Sloppy proofreading detracts from company image

Monday, December 31st, 2012

Happy New YearFirst, I'd like to wish all of my Grammar Glitch Central readers a Happy New Year. May your writing be error-free and easy to read in 2013. Many thanks to those who have taken time to comment during 2012. Your observations and questions always add value to this blog.


Today's Grammar Glitch point involves an advertisement for a spa and hot tub company that contains several glaring errors. Simple proofreading should have caught these and kept them from downgrading the company's public image.


GRammar Glitch on spas

 Unfortunately, the first error occurs glaringly in large print. The city name should be BIRMINGHAM, ending in M, not N.

The second error is at the beginning of the final sentence. OVER 20-MODELS ON DISPLAY is poorly worded and punctuated. There should not be a hyphen between 20 and MODELS. The number 20 simply modifies the word MODELS. Perhaps space was the issue here, but the phrase MORE THAN works much better than OVER here.

The third error is a verb form error. CHOSE is the past tense verb, but the buyer would CHOOSE in the present. Also, I believe the word FROM is missing here.  The buyer is not choosing 4 colors or 8 acylic colors. The buyer is choosing FROM among those options.

Here is my edited version of that last sentence:

More than 20 models on display. Choose from 4 different cabinet colors and 8 different acrylic colors.



FIVE typos in one advertisement! Whoops!

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011

Some people think I am overly picky about correct grammar and usage, but I believe most everyone would agree that the ad I've reprinted here is unacceptable. A spell checker, used by either the tinting company or by the newsletter editor who printed this ad, would have caught all five spelling/typos Glitches.


Whoops #1: When converting DAMAGE to DAMAGING, the writer should drop the E before adding ING.

Whoops #2: IBLE and ABLE are similar suffixes that can be added to the end of a word. VISIBLE uses the IBLE suffix, not ABLE.

Whoops #3: The prefix that means "across" is TRANS, not TRAN, so this word should be TRANSMISSION.

Whoops #4: The word EXPERIENCE has four syllables, so the "I" cannot be left out.

Whoops #5: The word REFERENCES comes from the word REFER, so the "E" between the "F" and the "R" cannot be left out.

Whoops #6: Commas always go inside the quotation marks in the USA, as in "Products,"

Whoops #7: It is not a good idea to put quotation marks around the words PRODUCTS, SERVICE or WARRANTY in an advertisement.  Quotation marks around a word suggest that it is a substitue for the real thing, which is the exact opposite of what is meant.

The Grammar Glitches above should be corrected this way:

  • Reduce damaging UV rays
  • Visible Light Transmissions

Over 50 years combined experience!

Licensed & insured with references in your community!

We offer the Very Best in Products, Service & Warranty in the Business!

To good to pass up?? Whoops!

Friday, September 16th, 2011


 Fall and Football are finally back in the air in Alabama, and none too soon after a stifling summer.  Max's Delicatessen makes great sandwiches, but the subject line of the email they sent out to customers this week was not so great.  It read this way:

Tailgate Specials To Good To Pass Up!

Whoops! When TOO means OVERLY or ALSO as it does in this subject line, it should be spelled with two O's, as in TOO STRONG or TOO WEAK.

Spelled with one O, TO is a preposition, as in TO THE MOVIES or TO THE DOOR, or it is part of an infinitive, as in TO DRIVE or TO SING. The subject line should read this way:

Tailgate Specials Too Good To Pass Up!


Good luck this weekend to my three favorite teams: the OMHS Eagles, the Auburn Tigers, and the OSU Buckeyes!

Hearing aid company ad offers perfect example of bad usage = bad impression.

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011

The heated debate about the importance of good spelling continues on LinkedIn (see previous blog post). When I opened my local newspaper yesterday morning, page 8A carried a perfect example of the kind of poor advertisement that can detract from a company's professional image. Today's ad for Patillo Balance and Hearing Center, a respected business in Birmingham, contains not one but SEVEN spelling and usage errors in ONE ad!  I believe that is a record in my collection, and I cannot imagine how it got past proofreaders at Patillo and at The Birmingham News.  Yoo-hoo, anybody in that capacity on duty? 

 Whoops #1–Although PREFORM is a word, it is not the one needed here.  It should be PERFORM, which is what you would want your hearing aid to do when you want to hear. PREFORM means to shape something ahead of time.


Whoops #2–THROUGH is a word, but it is not the one needed here.  You don't want a THROUGH computerized hearing test, you want one that is comprehensive (THOROUGH).


Whoops #3 and #4–POWERFULL is simply misspelled.  It should have only one L at the end (POWERFUL), and a quick spell check (if someone had bothered) would have caught that one. The same is true with DESCREET, which is not a word at all.  You want your hearing aid to be DISCREET (not standing out like a sore thumb).


Whoops #5–MANUFACTURERS refers to the producers of the hearing aids, so possession should be indicated with an apostrophe.  This coupon entry should read: FREE CLEANING AND INSPECTION OF ANY MANUFACTURER'S HEARING AIDS.


Whoops #6 and #7–The word CLEARER is a comparative adjective, as in CLEARER hearing or CLEARER sound.  CLEARER describes a noun.  In this sentence, the writer is referring to the word HEAR, which is a verb.  Therefore, the comparative adverb MORE CLEARLY is needed.  This is followed by the phrase ON THE PHOTO.  I read that three or four times before I figured out that it should have been PHONE, not PHOTO. That sentence should read as follows:

  • Hear more clearly on the phone, in the car, even outside.

LinkedIn question sparks heated debate.

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

A current discussion among the LinkedIn group Creative Designers and Writers has created quite a debate over the past two weeks, and I've enjoyed seeing the comments pour in. Here is the question that was posed:

Can spelling mistakes undermine company credibility?  Yes/No

The answers have varied from those who think spelling doesn't matter anymore (now that we have Twitter) to those who believe, as I do, that poor spelling indicates poor attention to detail and presents the company in a less than professional light.

I was glad to see that most who have responded believe spelling is important.  Here are two answers (used with permission) that I thought put it quite well:

From Mark Dawson, owner of a print shop in the United Kingdom: "Errors indicate either that the author doesn't know any better (and it's not hard) or doesn't care enough (which is sloppy)."   In another comment on this discussion, Mark pointed out the error in someone else's comment–that spelling CAN undermine  a companies  (sic) credibility but may or may not actually do so.  Mark pointed out that this should be written "a company's credibility" and added that "as one side of the argument is keen to assert, such errors undermine the overall credibility of the author.


From Francisco Ysunza, a technical/science-oriented professional consultant and literature lover who needs and likes to read and write in Spanish and English one to twelve hours a day: Call me old-school, but even after being exposed for years to sooo many mistakes in published written and advertisement pieces, I still automatically think of a poorly educated professional behind the job….For me, such findings (misspellings) bring their credibility (or their company's) down the scale because it shows carelessness in one or many ways, from the person's writing activity to the recruitment within the company….A typo is something I tolerate to the point that I do not make observations about it anymore in our current fast-paced communication, although it may stain a business interaction.  But plain misuse of words or sloppy punctuation (and typos, of course) in a text designed to be formally read by others is just unacceptable, whether it comes out of lack of detailed review (proofreading) or underprepared staff.  I think we all need to care more about it.


Ysunza makes the good point that, although typos "might" be tolerated in quick emails or Twitters, they have no place in text that is to be published.  Proofreading is the key.

Please feel free to add to this discussion here on Grammar Glitch Central by commenting below.


Financial Advisor Needs Apostrophe Advice

Monday, February 21st, 2011

Financial advisor Stewart Welch writes a column of financial advice in the Sunday Birmingham News.  His articles are always interesting and practical.  This past Sunday he wrote about investing in microfinance and helping to save the world.  There were some great suggestions.

Unfortunately, this column contained two rather glaring apostrophe errors along with the good advice.  Here is the first one:

In all cases, the borrower's are expected to repay the loans, typically with interest.

Whoops #1: I have said it before, and I will say it again: WHEN ADDING "S" TO A WORD TO MAKE IT PLURAL, IT IS NOT NECESSARY TO USE AN APOSTROPHE.  This sentence should read as follows:

In all cases, the borrowers are expected to repay the loans, typically with interest.

Here is another sentence from the same column:

I believe this paltry figure is not accurate because American's have no heart for giving, but  rather that they too are struggling to pay bills and save for retirement .

Whoops #2 and #3:  AMERICANS is plural, not possessive, so there should be NO apostrophe.  Also, from my perspective, this sentence is not parallel in structure.  It should be written this way: structure NOnNONO NO   

I believe this paltry figure is inaccurate not because Americans have no heart for giving but  rather because  they too are struggling to pay bills and save for retirement.  


This column also contained a sidebar photo (See above left.) with a message about ENTREPRENEURS.  Yes, this word is difficult to spell, but it took me less than 15 seconds to check the correct spelling right on the Internet.

NOTE: If you are interested in microfinance, you can visit or

Period and Parentheses–Which Goes Where?

Monday, January 31st, 2011

My favorite investment newsletter writer still needs a proofreader.  In his January 7 message, I spotted two punctuation errors and a spelling error–a spelling error that might be considered politically incorrect (spelling the President's name wrong).  Here is the first Glitch, in a sentence about Mitt Romney's chances to become the Republican nominee for President:

Mitt Romney would likely be the strongest candidate, but he carries the "baggage" of being a Mormon.  (I am not trying to degrade his religious beliefs, I am just pointing out that some people are planning to use Mitt Romney's religion against him in the coming campaign).

Whoops!  The entire last sentence here is within the parentheses.  Therefore, the period should be INSIDE the parentheses.



Many of us, including this newsletter writer, forget that there is a difference in size and purpose between a hyphen and a dash.  A hyphen should only be used to link parts of some compound words, like long-term or t-shirt.  Please note that a hyphen is HALF AS LONG AS A DASH.  The dash is used to set apart one phrase or clause in a sentence that should stand out.  In the following sentence, the newsletter writer correctly chooses the dash to set off the final part of his sentence, but unfortunately, he puts the shorter hyphen where the dash should be:

Many of the bears like to treat the budget deficit and other long-term factors as risks that are about to come crashing down on America – taking the economy and the stock market into an abyss from which they will never escape.

The newsletter writer also adds "illegal" white space on each side of the tiny hyphen.  Here is the rule:  A DASH is twice as long as a hyphen, and there should be NO white space on either side of it.  The sentence should look this way:

Many of the bears like to treat the budget deficit and other long-term factors as risks that are about to come crashing down on America–taking the economy and the stock market into an abyss from which they will never escape.



The final goof in this otherwise well written and informative newsletter is a rather glaring spelling error.  In two places in the first two paragraphs, the first name of the President of the United States is spelled BARRACK (as in "barracks," military accommodations) when it should be BARACK




Comford Food? Freinds and Family? Paula Deen spellchecker needed!

Thursday, December 23rd, 2010

Paula Deen is branching out with a new furniture collection for every room in the home.  A recent ad in Shop280 & announces her collection, which can be seen at TD's Fine Furniture Outlet in Sumiton, Alabama:



The ad refers to Paula Deen's "love of hospitality and comford food."  It also suggests that now is the best time to "let these furnishings welcome your freinds and family in and truly bring comfort home."

I do not know if these glaring spelling errors are the fault of Paula Deen's staff, the staff of TD's in Sumiton, or the staff of Shop280 &, but they certainly detract from an otherwise appealing ad.  I would guess that almost ANYONE who took the time to proofread this copy would have spotted both of these.

Just in case, COMFORT has a T on the end, and FRIENDS follows that old elementary school rule of I before E except after C.