Posts Tagged ‘spelling’

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.


What do you have to “loose”?

Thursday, June 9th, 2011

This is a usage Glitch that echoes down the generations no matter how many times it is corrected. While surfing through the responses on a Linked In discussion about the virtues of self publishing, I came across this profound comment:

You have nothing to loose and everything to gain. If you are good, of course.

Self publishing (not Vanity presses) certainly works for some people, but I hope the writer of this comment hires an editor if he plans to go that route. LOOSE is an adjective, meaning "out of confinement." On rare, archaic occasions, it is still used as a verb, as in LOOSE the hounds or LOOSE the dogs of war.

This writer needed the word LOSE, which is a verb and means the opposite of WIN. The sentence should read this way:

 You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. If you are good, of course .

 Keep in mind that your trusty spell checker would not catch this Glitch because both LOSE and LOOSE are words. 

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




“Overall, this book was well done.” Really?

Wednesday, January 12th, 2011

You have probably seen the news stories about the fourth grade textbook, Our Virginia: Past and Present, that contains numerous errors.  A panel of historians was asked to vet the book after the national buzz created by the book's  statement that units of African American soldiers had fought for the Confederacy during the Civil War.

Not only did the panel discover a number of factual errors in the textbook, they also found grammar and punctuation errors as well as the following misspelled words:

development (developement)

secession (seccession)

necessary (neccesary)

amendment (ammendment)

separate (seperate)

It is interesting to me that a good spellchecker would have spotted any one of these misspellings, yet neither the author nor the editor nor the three elementary teachers who originally reviewed the text bothered to run one. There are also little tricks for remembering difficult spellings.  I have always pronounced the word SEPARATE with an emphasis on the PAR to help me remember that it has an A rather than an E in the second syllable.  I rarely misspell the word NECESSARY because it cost me the Cuyahoga County Spelling Bee championship one year because I spelled it exactly the way this textbook did–with CC instead of SS.

Among the factual errors cited by the panel of historians were these:

The Confederacy had 11 states, not the 12 claimed in the text.

American joined World War I in 1917, not 1916.

The War of Independence began in 1775, not 1776.


One of the historians who reviewed the book stated that, although there were errors, she considered it a well done book overall because of its conciseness and its age-appropriate writing style.  Although I think it is important for textbooks to be interesting and written on the right reading level, I could not judge anything "well done overall" if it contained as many errors as this book does.  We owe students reading material that is not riddled with mistakes.


BONUS POINT: I loved the "Bumper Snicker" quoted by Driving Miss Crazy in The Birmingham News yesterday:  I before E except after C…Weird?  In English, there is ALWAYS an exception!




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.

Design firm ad needs better grammar design

Monday, December 20th, 2010 & Beyond arrived over the weekend with its beautiful, full color ads and ad essays for interesting local companies.  Unfortunately, as usual, it contains numerous spelling and grammar errors that detract from the otherwise professional layout..

As an example, here is a sentence from the attractive two-page layout for Rosegate Design, Inc.

Everything from accessories to furniture is balanced in scale and proportion and the team at Rosegate Design strive to provide that same balance to all of their client's dwellings.

 Whoops!  As written, this sounds as if Rosegate serves only ONE client!  I'm sure that's not the case, but putting the apostrophe before the S suggests they have ONE client who happens to have multiple dwellings.  The sentence should read this way, with the apostrophe after the S:The sTmultimultipelhahhap.  . 'm sure  

Everything from accessories to furniture is balanced in scale and proportion, and the team at Rosegate Design strive to provide that same balance to all of their clients' dwellings.

Here are a couple more suggestions for improving this ad:

1.)  Whoops! The word PLACE is spelled as PACE in the first sentence.

2.) The apostrophe problem is still an issue in the final sentence (which, in my opinion, would have more impact as two sentences). 

3.) There is also a (ho-hum, here we go again!) subject/verb agreement issue, not to mention a parallel structure problem. Here is that sentence:

The design staff at Rosegate makes every effort to meet their clients individual decorating needs and believe that aesthetics is key but function is a reality.

The decorating needs belong to the CLIENTS (plural), so there should be an apostrophe–again after the S.  Whoever put this ad together started out believing, as I would, that TEAM or STAFF is made up of individuals who work independently, so that writer used THE TEAM STRIVE and THE DESIGN STAFF BELIEVE.  No problem except that in the final sentence we find THE STAFF MAKES.  As I often point out in my workshops, a major key to good writing is consistency.  This writer needed to choose one approach and stick with it.

If I had been asked, I would have edited this final sentence (which should have as much impact and clarity as possible) this way:

The design staff at Rosegate make every effort to meet their clients' individual decorating needs.  They believe that aesthetics is key while function is  reality.





Proofreading is Really Important–Even in a Political Campaign!

Friday, November 7th, 2008

 I saved this goof until after the election because I didn't want to appear partisan before everyone voted. However, now that the decision has been made, I cannot resist pointing out a glaring goof that appeared in a letter Sarah Palin sent out about a week ago. There is no formal date at the top of the letter, so I am not sure exactly when it was written.

Underneath her name, SARAH PALIN, which is centered at the top of the page is this phrase:

Wendnesday Morning

I don't want to be like all those mean-spirited people who made fun of the Republican VP nominee for not knowing what the Bush doctrine was or whether Africa is a continent or a country and on and on, but I will suggest that it would be a very good idea to PROOFREAD what other people prepare for you to sign.

This letter has an identifier at the bottom of the page, suggesting it was issued by the Republican National Committee. Somebody there needs to PROOFREAD, including everyday words like WEDNESDAY.

I remember, back in elementary school, having trouble learning to spell the word "Wednesday" because the "d" was silent. Whenever I had to write this word, I would say to myself inside my head: WED…NES…DAY, pronouncing it exactly as it was spelled. To this day, I find myself doing that with  words that have silent letters.

If spelling is difficult for you, try my old trick.

 I hope you voted and that you were as proud as I was on Tuesday evening to see that we Americans could have a peaceful yet exciting day of elections in spite of our differences .