Monthly Archives: March 2013

I Am Annoyed By This Error EVERY DAY



This is not a sign for a puppy rescue group but merely an offering from a hot dog establishment.  The problem is that as one word, “everyday” is an adjective:  “Eating a hot dog is an everyday habit.”  What kind of habit (noun)?  An everyday (adjective) one.

However, this sign needed to make it two words.  Every day you can get a hot dog for $3.50.  Which day? Every day.  In this sense, “every” is an adjective modifying the noun “day.”

Go and sin no more.

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The Possessive Apostrophe Lives Another Day

Today’s Los Angeles Times ran a front-page story about the Mid-Devon District Council in England seriously considering eliminating possessive apostrophes from place names.  A national uproar ensued (as uproarious as the Brits allow themselves to get), and the online version of the LAT now has a story saying the council decided against dumbing down the language (further than it already is).

The article referred to “grocer’s English,” which we are all familiar with:  CARROT’S, TOMATO’S, etc., and said that it took a mere 110 years for Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles to add the apostrophe (originally omitted because of a faulty typewriter key, or so the story goes).

I have always wondered why the national organization called Boys and Girls Clubs doesn’t use apostrophes.  Those omissions bug me no end.  This is not difficult, people.

If you’d like to read the whole article, here’s the link:,0,7396379.story

England also has an Apostrophe Protection Society:

Long may it wave.  Rule Britannia!


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Seen Any Salad Fishermen Recently?

I met a friend for lunch yesterday and while considering the salad offerings, I came across this option:


Can’t you just see a boatload of fishermen (fisher people? fishers?) hauling up salad after salad containing wild, line-caught tuna?  That’s what the menu implied.

I just love misplaced modifiers.

Years ago I read a book by Anne Fadiman, Ex Libris, in which she describes (in chapter six as I recall) going out to dinner with her parents and brother and the four of them pointing out errors on the menu.  None of them was considering what to eat at that point; they had to make sure they spotted all the mistakes. I should have been born into that family.

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Is It the End of the Apostrophe?

After my last post with the photo of the sign for the “Sport’s Bar,” a reader e-mailed me saying that because so many people have trouble with apostrophes, particularly those showing possession, “they” (whoever “they” are) are predicting that punctuation mark may be eliminated.  Then you will be free to write “Joes car,” “Donnas career” and “the Joneses five cats.”

What do you think?  Do we really need the possessive apostrophe or will it go the way of the Stegasaurus? I doubt it will take anything as dramatic as a meteor to kill it.

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March 26, 2013 · 6:31 PM

Who’s the Sport?

Leaving a theater Saturday night, I saw this sign on a nearby pub. I’m sure more than a few people wondered why I was taking a photo of the sign, but you know why, right?  
Many, many times (most times), a word ending in S is just a plural. No apostrophe needed! The sign was made according to the all-too-common “rule” that must state, “If a word ends in an S, throw in an apostrophe before that S.”  

I guess this bar belongs to just one guy, a sport. As an unreconstructed English major, I could think only of The Great Gatsby, in which Gatsby repeatedly calls the narrator, Nick, “old sport.”  Maybe Nick came West and opened this pub. 

I’ll calm down now. 





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Counsel, Consul, Council

COUNSEL as a noun means “advice.”  As a verb is means “to advise.”  (Those two words are often misused; note the spelling.)   Madeline offered me valuable counsel.  She counseled me thoughtfully.

CONSUL is a government representative who is stationed in another country.   Our government does not have a consul in North Korea.

COUNCIL is an advisory group or assembly.  The Second Vatican Council was convened by Pope John XXIII.

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I Am So Sick of This!

What is it with many conservative members of the Republican party?  Or should I call it the Republic party?  That would be the equivalent of what they call the Democratic party: “the Democrat party.”  If they hate us, let them think “Ick!” and put the —ic at the end of the word.  Is that so hard?

My guess it’s a way to demean the opposition. I first noticed it coming from Limbaugh many years ago. It has spread widely.  Sometimes in my car I will put on the bloviating blimp just to see what is causing his neck veins to bulge on that particular day, but I can rarely stay tuned for more than a couple of minutes (which always seems to be sufficient time for several “Democrat” excoriations).

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