Mighty Red Pen

August 12, 2012

Heavenly typo

Filed under: Apostrophe catastrophe — mighty red pen @ 1:35 pm
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It may be true that God loves you.

However, this extra apostrophe in loves may need a divine intervention.



May 12, 2012

Because we’re worth it.

Filed under: Apostrophe catastrophe,Overseen — mighty red pen @ 6:07 pm
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What does this mom want for Mother’s Day? A pair of apostrophes for this sign (isn’t, Mother’s Day), that’s what.


February 21, 2012

The loneliest typo

Filed under: Overseen,Spellbound — mighty red pen @ 6:41 pm
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This little tidbit was spotted on the streets of Washington, D.C.

Hat tip to my roving correspondent, who writes, “If only chalkboards had spell check.”

If onley. Ahem, I mean, if only.


January 22, 2012

Exercise your apostrophe use

Filed under: Apostrophe catastrophe,Spellbound — mighty red pen @ 6:00 pm
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I happen to know that Camp Retirement, the active seniors living community where I spotted this sign, actually has many, many residents.

Okay, here’s a quick refresher: If only one resident is allowed to use the water fitness equipment, the apostrophe goes between the resident and the s: resident’s. If you have many residents using the equipment, the apostrophe goes after the s: residents’.

Somewhere, someone should have been using their noodle when they reviewed this sign.

November 15, 2011

That’s a man, baby

Filed under: Overseen,Wordsworthy — mighty red pen @ 7:35 pm
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Word nerds are everywhere.

Spotted by one of MRP’s overseas correspondents.

October 11, 2011

An apple a day keeps the typo away

Filed under: Overseen,Spellbound — mighty red pen @ 7:02 pm
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Ah, fall. It’s a beautiful time of year around these here parts. And this past weekend, we happened to have some particularly beautiful fall days. Perfect for apple picking. And you know what apple picking season brings: apple cider (refreshingly cold or piping hot, with or without cinnamon), apple cider donuts, apple pie, apple crisp, and of course, caramel apples.

Or, if you’re Honeypot Hill Orchards in Stow, Mass., carmel apples:

The good news? Every sign in the place directed hungry pickers to carmel apples. So what they lacked in spelling, they made up for in consistency.


September 9, 2011

A proofreader’s call to arms

Filed under: Perilous punctuation — mighty red pen @ 5:07 pm
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H/t to reader Christopher for sharing this little tidbit he spotted on the New Yorker’s website:

The title of the article awkwardly refers to another piece called “A Christian Manifesto.” So what we have here is a possessive tacked on to the end of a quotation mark. As I was saying, awkward, no? At least for print, it is—at first glance, it looked like a typo to me. If I were editing this headline, I’d probably suggest a rewrite—for instance, A Call to Arms in “A Christian Manifesto” (or something like that)—where the possessive could be avoided. It’s a readability issue more than a correctness issue, I think.

My eye also went immediately to the typo in the protest sign in the picture (it’s that old its/it’s problem to which even MRP falls victim). Protest signs seem so prone to errors and other kookiness that it can seem laughable (just Google “protest sign errors” and you’ll see what I mean). Christopher commented, “For some reason protest signs are my favorite place to find language mistakes.  Protesting with a sign seems to represent such confidence; It increases the irony factor when basic errors are overlooked.”

August 16, 2011

Are you serious?

Filed under: Overseen,Spellbound — mighty red pen @ 6:32 pm
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H/t to briantw for this little gem, which is a beauty just for all the scary scare quotes.

A word to the wise: if you’re serious about printing an error-free sign, please unlock your proofreading potential. Please.

August 2, 2011

Clean up on aisle three, please

Filed under: Overseen,Spellbound — mighty red pen @ 7:20 pm
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While on a little stroll in Cambridge, Mass., I arrived right on the doorstep of this conundrum: Is this shop called Erin Cleaners or Erin Cleansers?

Clean and cleanse are synonyms, but as pointed out in Garner’s Modern American Usage, “Clean is literal, cleanse is usually figurative. Hence cleanse is often used in religious or moral contexts.” From Grammarist, “Both clean and cleanse can be used to mean to remove dirt or filth from. However, clean is more often used literally, and cleanse is more often figurative. So cleansing is often spiritual or psychological, while cleaning is usually sanitary or cosmetic.” Maybe that explains why souls are one of the things that they can repair at Erin Cleaners/Cleansers.

The souls/soles mistake is just one of the proofreading errors that could be cleaned up at Erin Cleaners/Cleansers. The other is the confusion between dying (as in not living) and dyeing (when you add color to something). As Brians’ Common Errors in English Usage notes, “If you are using dye to change your favorite t-shirt from white to blue you are dyeing it, but if you don’t breathe for so long that your face turns blue, you may be dying.” And somehow, I doubt they mean that the shoes are dying.

Somewhere, there’s a proofreader dying of embarrassment, but if they say ten Hail Websters, maybe their soul will still go to word nerd heaven.

July 15, 2011

We are close but no cigar

Filed under: Overseen,Spellbound — mighty red pen @ 6:19 pm
Tags: ,

This sign was spotted at the entrance of the closed water slide.

You know what, closed water slide? I’m sorry we are close, too. I would rather be close to the open water slide. No offense.

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