Category Archives: Grammar

I Tip For Great Grammar

Once a month, I bop into a fabulous little joint called Massage Envy.

It’s an awesome place where a girl (or guy) can go to get a relaxing massage for a reasonable price! Anyway, the one in my area just so happens to be located about 4 minutes from my house. So. Convenient. How could I say no to a one year commitment? I couldn’t. So I joined up.

So far I’ve had massages from Joel and Dean, each of whom has been amazing in his own way. Joel has “Power Hands.” He can get deep in those nooks and crannies. And when my L5-S1 injury was a-flarin’, Dean put scalding hot towels on my back and had me do this weird exercise that took my breath away. Literally. I could not breathe while he stretched my arm one way and my leg the other and pressed down on my hip. Owwwww! But then – miraculously the “owwww” turned into “ahhhhhh.” I’m telling you, no more pain. Those guys know what they are doing over there.

The last time I went, I noticed this sign.

Oh no.

I couldn’t help myself.

And it’s true, the therapists are awesome, and they do deserve great tips.

But do you see the error?

Sign #1

Bonus points awarded to the first person who can explain the grammatical problem expressed on the sign.

So I told them about the error, and they said they understood.

They even said they would have a new sign by the time I came in for my next appointment.

And they did.

Sign #2

And while I didn’t mean to laugh, I couldn’t help it because – of course – they had gone and made things worse.

Double bonus points awarded to the person who explains what’s going on in this sign.

(Note, this person should be different from the person who addresses the first issue. Let’s have some fun with this.)

Finally, someone just asked me to write down what the sign should say.

They implored: How should it read, so it reads properly?

Really?

Per usual, it’s hard for me to believe that I was the only person to see the glaring error? (And if one wanted to be really picky, it could be argued there are a few.)

Apparently, the sign had been there for about a month.

So why didn’t anyone say anything?

Triple bonus points awarded to the person who best answers that question.  And “people don’t give a flying &*$%#” is not a valid answer.

My next appointment is at the end of March.

Hopefully, the third time is the charm.

Can someone come up with something smart & silly about massages and grammar? Seems to me they go hand-in-hand. Ba-da-bump!

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Dinner Anyone?

This flyer arrived in the mail today advertising a new, cool place to eat dinner. Yummy.

And then I saw it.

Oopsie! Do you see it?

It takes a moment…

Who can spot the error first?

Who can leave me the funniest response? Ready? Go!

So About That Sign

Wegmans Food Markets

Image via Wikipedia

Yesterday at 7 am, I posted a blog about a sign in my local grocery store that has been driving me bonkers for years.

By late morning, I received an email from a representative from Consumer Affairs.

While the rest of us were chattering about the sign and its grammar, one of my loyal readers — a former Wegmans’ employee — made a call, and the sign was promptly removed.

Last night at 8:25 pm, another loyal reader sent me this picture — along with an apology about the quality. She explained she was operating in stealth mode. 😀

The new & improved sign!

I felt I had to let everyone know the happy ending to this very big news story.

Mary Joan from Consumer Affairs wrote:

Bob Farr was more than happy to take down that offensive sign. And I have to tell you that reading your blog . . .  and the subsequent comments from your readers was quite enjoyable.  You made my morning!

Further proof that Wegmans positively rocks: Here is a company that received a little constructive criticism, and instead of getting defensive (typical) or just brushing it off and ignoring it (also typical), they got proactive, making this English teacher, blogger, and loyal customer soooooo happy.

So the new sign is up.

All grammatical errors have been corrected.

Wouldn’t it be nice if everything in the world could be fixed so quickly?

I’m feeling empowered. Positively zippy.

So what should I take on today? I’m taking ideas.

Wegmans’ Grammar

 

English: A Wegman's store in Manalapan, NJ.

English: A Wegman’s store in Manalapan, NJ. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There is almost nothing wrong with Wegmans. It is the world’s best store. Indeed, people visit from across the globe to see how things are set up. They bring cameras and snap pictures of our amazing store, which is set up to look and feel like an outdoor market in Paris.

In the produce section, the fruit is heaped in baskets and barrels. There is usually someone cooking and serving something simple yet delicious — like sautéed shiitake mushrooms with shallots and basting oil — (and all the ingredients just happen to be right there for you to pick up for dinner that night). The marketing people are amazingly brilliant.

Wegmans also has a deli, a bakery, a fish shop, a meat market, a cheese department, a tea bar, a coffee bar, a place to buy sushi or salad or pizza or subs, and they have this one entrée and two sides deal for $6 that cannot be beat. There is a pharmacy and a café. They have an organic food section, a kosher food section, a lactose-free section. They cater. The store sparkles. The public bathrooms at Wegmans showcase nicer tiles than some private homes I’ve visited. The soap dispenser is always full. They have towels and air dryers.

If you buy a jar of tuna and get home and see it is dented, they will take it back. If you buy a pound of meat and think it smells a little bit funny, they will take it back. If your kid is hungry, you can let him nibble an apple or a cookie, and no one hassles you. Alec Baldwin’s mother loves Wegmans so much, he did some schtick about it on Letterman, and he landed himself a few pre-holiday commercials discussing Wegmans’ awesomeness. Frankly, Baldwin’s commercials are awful, but anyone who has ever been in a Wegmans understands; there really is nothing like it.

That said, the following sign has been tacked up in my local Wegmans for years! I don’t think anyone notices it except me, but it drives me bonkers. Given their attention to detail, I can’t believe the sign has lasted this long. I figured, surely, someone would notice it. After all, it’s right next to the water fountain.

For those of you who appreciate spelling and grammar, as well as the art of letter writing, see how many errors you find.

What has become of me?

And should I say something to Bob?

 

Grammar & Facebook Do Not Mix

Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...

Image via CrunchBase

I am in love with this post! Gabe Doyle is a fourth-year graduate student in Linguistics at the University of California, San Diego. He is a computational psycholinguist. I don’t exactly know what that is, but I believe it means he is interested in how people choose to express the ideas they want to express. Or something like that.

While I am definitely a Facebook fan, I do not enjoy what social media and texting are doing to our language. It is becoming increasingly difficult to define and get people to agree to stick to a set of rules upon which we can all agree are necessary to follow with regard to language. Because, really, that’s all the conventions of writing are – little polite agreements between communicators.

I think of writing like driving. Just as there are rules of the road created to maintain civility and prevent chaos, so too, there are rules for writers. When we write, our pens are our cars. So we zoom around our little pen-cars where it is implied we have agreed to follow the same conventions because it helps us to better understand each other. Grammar conventions are kindnesses we bestow upon our readers, so they can understand us more easily. For example: Commas are little road bumps which make us slow down. Periods are stop signs. Semicolons are flashing yellow lights. The only problem is very few people follow the grammar rules anymore, so we are starting to have a lot of difficult situations out there like when people don’t use capitalization or end punctuation and just keep going on there is no break or anything at all to indicate that the sentence is coming or has come to an end so it just keeps going which can be confusing because sometimes writers  change topics suddenly you and are in outer space floating among the planets which is cucumber cool except you didn’t want to go to outer space. You wanted to go to a movie.

So check out the link to the great article above. I wish I’d written it.

‘Sup With Grammar in America

Google Images

The other day I was in the grocery store when I distinctly heard a woman declare, “I should (pause) of gotten a salad.”

Should of?

What?

Should of is the equivalent of fingernails on the chalkboard for English teachers.

I believe the person meant to say, “I should’ve made a better lunch choice instead of opting for these nasty, greasy chicken wings.”

There is no such thing as should of.

And believe me, it took all of my self-restraint from correcting Mrs. Disgruntled Chicken Wing Eater.

Sigh.

Anyway, I am in love with this video. There must be something wrong with me.

Hubby walked out of the room as I tried to show it to him.

Am i the only person who cares that folks dont seem 2 no how 2 rite or speak proper any moor?

Do you have a grammar pet peeve? What is it?

How I Fell in Love with Words

photo by Matthijs Rouw @ flickr.com

For a period of years, I exchanged letters with a boy. He was smart, and I felt flattered by his long-distance attention. I loved the way his words looked on the page, and after devouring the content of his letters, I would stare at his penmanship. His handwriting was distinctive; long, thin strokes in the “T’s” and “L’s”; his vowels undersized, tiny and tight. Very controlled. My “P’s” and “L’s” wanted to loop. My vowels were large and open, like my heart.

During this period, I focused on composing the best letters I could. I explained – dissected – deconstructed and reconstructed the world for him in an attempt to get him to see things through my eyes. I showed him the beauty of the cigarette butt left on the filthy street corner, and wondered about the woman with the orange-red lipstick who had held it in her mouth. I addressed my envelopes, licked my stamps, sent my poetry and prose. And since there was neither instant messaging nor Skype nor Facebook nor email in the 1980s, I had to wait  . . . and wait. . . and wait for the postal carrier to (finally) bring me a long anticipated envelope. And always his responses were wonderful: filled with answers and more questions, more observations which led to more thinking, reflecting, writing.

Through our correspondence, I fell in love. With words. I learned how, in English, multi-syllabic words have a way of softening the impact of language, how they can show compassion, tenderness and tranquility. Conversely, I learned that single-syllable words could show rigidity, honesty, toughness, relentlessness. I saw how words could invoke anger, sadness, lust, and joy. As an adult, when speaking, I sometimes feel like I did not say quite the right thing. But when writing, I have time to be careful, to ponder, to find a new way to say something old. I can craft something magical.

I have always said that the best writing is born in obsession, rooted in a specific place.

My favorite word is “apricot” because it invokes a specific sense of smell, of taste and touch – but for me, it also reminds me of a particular morning in a particular place when the sun rose and made the world glow. It is a juicy word. A sweet word. A golden word scented with summer. I use the word “apricot” to show my students how one image can hold a lot of weight.

Some day I will thank that boy who made me want to revise, who made me want to give him only my best, most delicious words, my most ferocious images. Wherever he is, I hope he is still writing, too.

If you are so inclined, I would love to know if you have a favorite/least favorite word, what it is, and what it evokes for you.

What Would You Do?

Your child brings home a handout from school that is riddled with more than quite a few teacher errors (misspellings, grammar etc.).

In fantasies, what would you like to say or do? What do you do in reality?