Friday, September 24, 2010

Grammar fail(ure)

We were at PetSmart yesterday, and I happened to spy one of my least favorite grammatical errors: the use of a plural where a possessive is called for and vice versa.

To be fair, this appeared in a tag engraving machine, so it really wasn't PetSmart's mistake. However, some well-meaning but semi-literate PetSmart employee, obviously attempting to follow the Law of Conservation of Apostrophes ( "For every apostrophe omitted from an "it's'' there is an extra one put into an "its"), hung this sign about three feet away:

When I see mistakes like these, made by adults who have, presumably, completed elementary school, I can't help but echo the sentiments of Lynne Truss in her wonderful book Eats, Shoots, and Leaves: "Why did the Apostrophe Protection Society not have a militant wing? Could I start one? Where do you get balaclavas?"


  1. Hehe. I was a college English instructor for a few years. Believe me, the urge to scream never lessens when you see this happening again and again. Just wait until we see the effects of text messaging on written English in a few decades.

  2. Grammar and spelling mistakes are not limited to public signs. I cringe when my friends, who also have English degrees, send me poorly written emails. I was horrified they obtained teaching credentials and never planned to master grammar rules. No wonder many students never master grammar. In my college grammar class, only 5 out of 40 of us knew grammar rules. Students in our class ranged from 16 (concurrent enrollment high school/college) to 70 years old.

    While I am by no means an expert grammarian, I always try to use appropriate grammar rules. I am glad to see others also try their best when it comes to presenting the written word in an elegant and grammatically succinct manner.

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