Archive for the ‘Tips’ Category

We just want to note this interesting (and timely) grammar tip from WebExhibits:

Daylight Saving Time

Spelling and grammar

The official spelling is Daylight Saving Time, not Daylight SavingS Time. Saving is used here as a verbal adjective (a participle). It modifies time and tells us more about its nature; namely, that it is characterized by the activity of saving daylight. It is a saving daylight kind of time. Because of this, it would be more accurate to refer to DST as daylight-saving time. Similar examples would be a mind-expanding book or a man-eating tiger. Saving is used in the same way as saving a ball game, rather than as a savings account.

Nevertheless, many people feel the word savings (with an ‘s’) is mellifluous off the tongue. Daylight Savings Time is also in common usage, and can be found in dictionaries.

Adding to the confusion is that the phrase Daylight Saving Time is inaccurate, since no daylight is actually saved. Daylight Shifting Time would be better, and Daylight Time Shifting more accurate, but neither is politically desirable.

Source: WebExhibits: Daylight Saving Time

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Is it just us or has there been an increase in grammatical misuse in tag lines, advertisements, and TV commercials lately? As many of you know, we have been feuding with Hanes for a few years over their “lay-flat” collar ads – to no avail.

Looks like we have a couple of new opponents to take on:


MORE SCIENCE. LESS WRINKLES.” & “More science. Less eye lines.”



In addition, a faithful follower writes,

“Ugh!  Have you seen the Mercedes commercial?! “More technology, less doors.” I’m hoping it’s really clever and I just don’t understand it. Surely the grammar couldn’t be that bad, could it?”

We encourage you to look back to our posts on the subject “Less” vs. “Fewer”.

Would these grammar goofs affect your buying decisions?

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Say what?

We did a little research on apostrophe use in Mother’s Day and Father’s Day messages floating around cyberspace and …

Mom’s win!

By far, there were more mistake’s for Mother’s than there were foul up’s for Father’s … (of course, our apostrophe abuse is intentional here).

We thought you might get a chuckle at some of our findings, so, here you go:

  • Happy Mother’s Day to all the lovely Mom’s!
  • … wishing all the Mommy’s I know a Happy Mothers Day!! (this one could have just moved the mark to Mothers)
  • We have to celebrate our mama’s by the way…
  • … can’t wait to have dinner at moms house. (now, this one needs an apostrophe)
  • Happy Mothers Day to all those amazing Mom’s out there :)
  • … happy mother’s day to all d mom’s of d Boston celtics lol! (this one needs some Capitalization help, too)
  • Thank You, Yeah Us Mom’s Do Rock.
  • Happy Mother’s Day. Here’s to Mom’s everywhere! (incorrect, unless his mother is omnipresent)
  • Happy Mother’s DAy to all tha mom’s n soon to b mom’s out there uu deserve it (this one needs some spelling help, too)

Therefore, today’s punctuation concentration is on avoiding that embarassing apostrophe catastrophe

To start, let’s define this little character:

apostrophe. noun. a mark of punctuation ( )used to indicate possessive case or omission of one or more letter(s) from a word.

You may see some sources state that the apostrophe is also used for indicating plurals of abbreviations, acronyms and symbols. We heartily disagree with this usage — we feel that this practice is outdated.

We do like Grammar Book’s baker’s dozen of Rules for Apostrophes, so we’ll refer you to their site for the full details and just give you a summary here, with one addition from us:

Our Apostrophe Rule:

0. Do not use an apostrophe to form a plural. This goes for words, symbols, abbreviations, and acronyms. * (This is related to Rules 5. – names, and 11. – CAPS & numbers used as nouns, below, but more encompassing.)

* Here are examples of misuse according to our rule:

CD-s and DVD-s



Grammar Book’s Apostrophe Rules:

  1. Use the apostrophe with contractions.
  2. Use the apostrophe to show possession.
  3. Use the apostrophe where the noun that should follow is implied.
  4. Use the apostrophe to show plural possession.
  5. Do not use an apostrophe for the plural of a name. * (We have some people in mind who need to learn this rule!)
  6. Use the apostrophe with a singular compound noun, to show possession.
  7. Use the apostrophe with a plural compound noun, to show possession.
  8. Use the apostrophe and s after the second name only if two people possess the same item.
  9. Never use an apostrophe with possessive pronouns: his, hers, its, theirs, ours, yours, whose.
  10. The only time an apostrophe is used for it’s is when it is a contraction for it is or it has. (Remember, “its” is a possessive pronoun – no apostrophe.) See photo below.
  11. The plurals for capital letters and numbers used as nouns are not formed with apostrophes. *
  12. Use the possessive case in front of a gerund (-ing word).
  13. If the gerund has a pronoun in front of it, use the possessive form of that pronoun. (Refer to Rule 9. re: pronouns.)

Speaking of rules … we like this … from Trevor Coultart:


Should be its.

Sources: GrammarBook.com, Flickr

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One of our favorite things to do is shop for office supplies. Imagine our delight at finding this entry in the OfficeMax catalog:

OfficeMax Invisible Tape Dispensers

Are these as as out-of-sight as the OfficeMax Invisible Boxed Tape  that goes in the invisible dispenser?  We just couldn’t see our way clear to order one. Maybe these stealth supplies would make for a very clean desk?

In case you don’t get it, consider these alternatives:

OfficeMax Dispensers for Invisible Tape, and OfficeMax Boxed Invisible Tape. This way, the reader will know that it’s the tape that is invisible, not the dispenser or the box.

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This has been bugging us since the advertising campaign began a while ago. TBS, the cable channel, is perpetuating awful grammar with their slogan:

“more movie … less commercials.”

We caught this grammar gaffe during tonight’s showing of the wonderful movie The School of Rock.

We love the movie, however, it was an insult to our senses having this slogan displayed on the screen throughout. We went for the DVD.

Therefore, we are going to shamelessly steal from our earlier post: Less is not always more … and may continue to do so until correctness catches on.

OK, everybody repeat after us …

I will use “less” for amounts that cannot be counted as discrete items, such as water, sunshine, and money.

I will use “fewer” for numbers of items that can be counted as discrete items, such as drops of water, rays of sunshine, dollar bills, and … of course, commercials!

Get it? Got it. Good!

See our other previous post on this topic: Limit less …

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I is not an object … def. –pronoun 1. the nominative singular pronoun, used by a speaker in referring to himself or herself.

Me is not a subject … def. –pronoun 1. the objective case of I, used as a direct or indirect object.

In other words, you don’t speak to I, give things to I, or decide between I and another.

Nor would me speak to others, give them things, or make the decision between a and b.

I would speak to him. I would give things to her, and I would decide between x and y.

And, you would speak to me, she would give things to me, and he might decide between you and me.

The bigger question, and frequent misuse, seems to come when combining subjects and/or objects … mostly the latter. What do we mean?

Here goes …

Please call Mike and ___ . (I or me?)

Terry was speaking to him and ___ . (I or me)?

Pat gave the paper to you and ___ . (I or me?)

How can you decide between her and ___? (I or me?)

Hint: take out the other person, enter the correct form, then add the other person back in … like this:

Please call ___ . (I or me?) Therefore … Please call Mike and me.

Terry was speaking to ___ . (I or me?) Therefore … Terry was speaking to him and me.

Pat gave the paper to ___ . (I or me?) Therefore … Pat gave the paper to you and me.

Get it? Got it. Good.

As we were saying … “I is not an object …”

Learn more about reflexives at our post: Self-exploration …

References: grammarpolice.com, dictionary.com, Grammar Girl

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The Chaos
by G. Nolst Trenite’ a.k.a. “Charivarius” 1870 – 1946

Dearest creature in creation
Studying English pronunciation,
I will teach you in my verse
Sounds like corpse, corps, horse and worse
I will keep you, Susy, busy,
Make your head with heat grow dizzy.
Tear in eye your dress you’ll tear,
So shall I! Oh, hear my prayer,
Pray, console your loving poet,
Make my coat look new, dear, sew it!
Just compare heart, beard and heard,
Dies and diet, lord and word,
Sword and sward, retain and Britain.
(Mind the latter, how it’s written).
Made has not the sound of bade,
Say said, pay-paid, laid, but plaid.
Now I surely will not plague you
With such words as vague and ague,
But be careful how you speak,
Say break, steak, but bleak and streak.
Previous, precious, fuchsia, via,
Pipe, snipe, recipe and choir,
Cloven, oven, how and low,
Script, receipt, shoe, poem, toe.
Hear me say, devoid of trickery:
Daughter, laughter and Terpsichore,
Typhoid, measles, topsails, aisles.
Exiles, similes, reviles.
Wholly, holly, signal, signing.
Thames, examining, combining
Scholar, vicar, and cigar,
Solar, mica, war, and far.
From “desire”: desirable–admirable from “admire.”
Lumber, plumber, bier, but brier.
Chatham, brougham, renown, but known.
Knowledge, done, but gone and tone,
One, anemone. Balmoral.
Kitchen, lichen, laundry, laurel,
Gertrude, German, wind, and mind.
Scene, Melpomene, mankind,
Tortoise, turquoise, chamois-leather,
Reading, reading, heathen, heather.
This phonetic labyrinth
Gives moss, gross, brook, brooch, ninth, plinth.
Billet does not end like ballet;
Bouquet, wallet, mallet, chalet;
Blood and flood are not like food,
Nor is mould like should and would.
Banquet is not nearly parquet,
Which is said to rime with “darky.”
Viscous, Viscount, load, and broad.
Toward, to forward, to reward.
And your pronunciation’s O.K.,
When you say correctly: croquet.
Rounded, wounded, grieve, and sieve,
Friend and fiend, alive, and live,
Liberty, library, heave, and heaven,
Rachel, ache, moustache, eleven,
We say hallowed, but allowed,
People, leopard, towed, but vowed.
Mark the difference, moreover,
Between mover, plover, Dover,
Leeches, breeches, wise, precise,
Chalice, but police, and lice.
Camel, constable, unstable,
Principle, disciple, label,
Petal, penal, and canal,
Wait, surmise, plait, promise, pal.
Suit, suite, ruin, circuit, conduit,
Rime with “shirk it” and “beyond it.”
But it is not hard to tell,
Why it’s pall, mall, but Pall Mall.
Muscle, muscular, gaol, iron,
Timber, climber, bullion, lion,
Worm and storm, chaise, chaos, and chair,
Senator, spectator, mayor,
Ivy, privy, famous, clamour
And enamour rime with hammer.
Pussy, hussy, and possess,
Desert, but dessert, address.
Golf, wolf, countenance, lieutenants.
Hoist, in lieu of flags, left pennants.
River, rival, tomb, bomb, comb,
Doll and roll and some and home.
Stranger does not rime with anger.
Neither does devour with clangour.
Soul, but foul and gaunt but aunt.
Font, front, won’t, want, grand, and grant.
Shoes, goes, does. Now first say: finger.
And then: singer, ginger, linger,
Real, zeal, mauve, gauze, and gauge,
Marriage, foliage, mirage, age.
Query does not rime with very,
Nor does fury sound like bury.
Dost, lost, post; and doth, cloth, loth;
Job, Job; blossom, bosom, oath.
Though the difference seems little,
We say actual, but victual.
Seat, sweat; chaste, caste.; Leigh, eight, height;
Put, nut; granite, and unite.
Reefer does not rime with deafer,
Feoffer does, and zephyr, heifer.
Dull, bull, Geoffrey, George, ate, late,
Hint, pint, Senate, but sedate.
Scenic, Arabic, Pacific,
Science, conscience, scientific,
Tour, but our and succour, four,
Gas, alas, and Arkansas.
Sea, idea, guinea, area,
Psalm, Maria, but malaria,
Youth, south, southern, cleanse and clean,
Doctrine, turpentine, marine.
Compare alien with Italian,
Dandelion with battalion.
Sally with ally, yea, ye,
Eye, I, ay, aye, whey, key, quay.
Say aver, but ever, fever.
Neither, leisure, skein, receiver.
Never guess–it is not safe:
We say calves, valves, half, but Ralph.
Heron, granary, canary,
Crevice and device, and eyrie,
Face but preface, but efface,
Phlegm, phlegmatic, ass, glass, bass.
Large, but target, gin, give, verging,
Ought, out, joust, and scour, but scourging,
Ear but earn, and wear and bear
Do not rime with here, but ere.
Seven is right, but so is even,
Hyphen, roughen, nephew, Stephen,
Monkey, donkey, clerk, and jerk,
Asp, grasp, wasp, and cork and work.
Pronunciation–think of psyche–!
Is a paling, stout and spikey,
Won’t it make you lose your wits,
Writing “groats” and saying “grits”?
It’s a dark abyss or tunnel,
Strewn with stones, like rowlock, gunwale,
Islington and Isle of Wight,
Housewife, verdict, and indict!
Don’t you think so, reader, rather,
Saying lather, bather, father?
Finally: which rimes with “enough”
Though, through, plough, cough, hough, or tough?
Hiccough has the sound of “cup.”
My advice is–give it up!

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We have been traveling a lot recently. For some reason, that seems to make us accutely aware of the widespread and interesting usage of the conditional tense. This sparked an idea for a new blog post, so here goes …

conditional: Grammar. (of a sentence, clause, mood, or word) involving or expressing a condition, as the first clause in the sentence If it rains, he won’t go.

We like this explanation from LEO Network:

The conditional tense says that an action is reliant on something else. The two most common conditionals are real and unreal, they are sometimes called if-clauses.

The real conditional (often named 1st Conditional or Conditional Type I) describes situations based on fact.

The unreal conditional (often named 2nd Conditional or Conditional Type II) describes unreal or imaginary situations.

There is also what we call the 3rd conditional (often named Conditional Type III), used to express no possibility of something having happened in the past, and the 0 conditional (often called the zero conditional), used to express absolute certainty.

Unless you are studying English to pass an exam or test don’t try to remember the types, just learn the structure so that you know how to express the meaning conveyed by each type.

Note! If the ‘if’ clause comes first, a comma is usually used. If the “if” clause comes second, there is no need for a comma.”

We mentioned “interesting usage.” Take a look at the following examples and have a chuckle:

In a restaurant, have you ever heard your server say something like this?   
  If you need anything, my name is …That’s great. However, what is your name if I don’t need anything?
  If you’re ready to order, I’ll be over there …So, if I’m not ready to order, where will you be?
When conversing with friends or colleagues …  
  If I don’t see you, have a good trip/holiday/weekend …Alright, if you do see me, do you want me to have a bad time?
On an airplane …  
  If you are unfamiliar with the (insert almost any airport name here) airport, there is a diagram in the in-flight magazine …This one is puzzling … we are very familiar with the mentioned airport. Is there still a diagram in the magazine?

Now, IF you have other examples to share, please feel free to comment!

Sources: Dictionary.com, Learn English, American Airlines Flight Attendant announcements.

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When will folks ever learn the “less-on”?? The “less vs. fewer” debate rages on. Case in point:

Citi less is more

Citi is running a promo. It starts out fine, but quickly grates on grammarians with the phrase …

“Less trees being cut down …”

OK, everybody repeat after us …

I will use “less” for amounts that cannot be counted as discrete items, such as water, sunshine, and money.

I will use “fewer” for numbers of items that can be counted as discrete items, such as drops of water, rays of sunshine, dollar bills, and … of course, trees!

Get it? Got it. Good!

See also our previous post: Limit less …

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Normally, we don’t cross-post, however, here is an exception.

We poke fun at so many wikiHow entries that we thought it only fair to call upon a well-written and grammar-related post from its:

Home > Categories > Education and Communications > Subjects > English > English Grammar > Punctuation section.

Enjoy the following:


How to Use a Dash in an English Sentence

Source: wikiHow.com

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