Monday, November 19, 2007


A headline from the Indianapolis Star over the weekend: WAREHOUSE BURNS NEAR AIRPORT. How about, "WAREHOUSE NEAR AIRPORT BURNS?" They make it sound like someone picked up a warehouse and moved it to a location near the airport, then set it on fire. I know their headline isn't exactly incorrect, but, as James Kilpatrick would say, it could have been stated with greater clarity.

Monday, November 5, 2007


From Sunday's Lafayette Journal/Courier, "For most of the first half, a typically strong group of defenders were not on the same page." A group WERE??? But a group is a singular entity. True, it is comprised of more than one, but the word is singular, therefore a group WAS. And furthermore, the group was not on the same page as what? As each other? As some other group? Clarification required, people!


Friday, November 2, 2007

NBA in New Orleans

Apparently, this year the NBA is going to have a season-long effort to help re-build New Orleans. When teams visit New Orleans for games, they will perform various community service endeavors, from building public basketball courts to bolstering learning resources in the area's schools. This sounds like a great idea to me.

But the Indianapolis Star reported that NBA Commissioner "David Stern said he is determined to do help for the city's recovery from Hurricane Katrina." DO help? Good Lord, there must be a thousand better ways to say that. How about "to help," "to assist in rebuilding," "to perform rebuilding work," etc.? Do they hire 3rd graders as writers & editors? I guess it keeps their costs down.

NBA in New Orleans

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Indpls. Star, 10/30/07

Again, special attention should be paid to proper grammar in articles about education. Yet, yesterday I found the following in an article entitled, "Six Schools Here Called 'Dropout Factories':"

Those area schools are among 1700 regular or vocational high schools nationwide where 60 percent or less of the students who enter high school make it to their senior year, according to the analysis conducted by Johns Hopkins University for the Associated Press.

First, "Here" is never a good word to use in a headline. Where, exactly, is "here?" My yard? Indianapolis? Indiana? The Midwest? The US? Earth?

Second, once again we have 60% or LESS, when we should have 60% or FEWER. Since students can be quantified, we MUST use fewer -- NOT less.

And did anyone else notice the incorrect agreement? ...studentS who enter high school make to the their senior yeaR... StudentS is plural, therefore YeaR should be YearS. A better example might be this: Last weekend 4400 people here in Indy set a Guiness Book record for the most people simultaneously dribbling basketballs, when the group dribbled from the circle downtown to Conseco Fieldhouse. It was a season kickoff promotion for the start of the Pacers' season. The Star, in all its ungrammerical glory, printed that the record was set for the most people dribbling A basketball at one time. "A basketball?" What, did one person start dribbling, and then pass off to the next person, who dribbled a couple times & then passed off to the next person, etc.? Wow, that would be an odd way to set a record. Guiness probably doesn't even have a record for most people dribbling one basketball. And what's to keep some kid from grabbing the one and only ball and running away from the crowd to take it home, huh?

A little agreement goes a long way toward simplifying our message, people!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Tropicana Light & Healthy

This morning, I noticed something interesting on our half-gallon carton of Tropicana Light & Healthy Orange Juice (the one that's only one Weight Watchers point): 1/2 Less Sugar & Calories. One half less??? Doesn't that mean 50% more?

Tropicana Light & Healthy

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Indianapolis Star, 10/9/07

"The Rockies had the second best record in the National League, and have won 17 of their last 18 games." Their LAST 18 games?!?! Is the franchise going to fold? Right here in the middle of the playoffs?!?! Perhaps, the writer meant their PAST 18 games, which would have implied that they will be playing more games in the future. Their LAST 18 games implies they will never play another game again. They've played their last 18.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Indianapolis Star, 10/6/07

An in-depth cover story on higher education opens with the following line: "A group of local residents, business people, and education leaders are pushing to create an educational campus that would house numerous higher education institutions in the area." Okay, first of all, this is a story about education, so the editor should make damn sure the grammar & syntax is perfect, right? Then, how about "A group of local... IS pushing to create..." The group is singular, therefore it IS, not ARE. You wouldn't say, "The group are coming to the party." The individual people who comprise the group ARE coming to the party, but the group itself (ONE group, comprised of many individuals) IS coming to the party.

Friday, October 5, 2007


My wife & I ate at Subway last night following our daughter's Fall Choir Concert. I absolutely and patently refused to eat any of the low-fat sandwiches, for the sign read, "Meals With 6 Grams of Fat or Less." Since grams are quantifiable, we all know this should have read, "Meals With 6 Grams of Fat or FEWER," not "Less." As I simply could not bring myself to order from this grammarically incorrect menu, I opted for something with a higher fat-gram count. Too bad. I didn't need the additional Weight Watchers points.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Indianapolis Star, 10/3/07

From a weekly column on Business Etiquette: "...conducted two studies with managers and corporate recruiters to see if impressions of professionalism are tainted by references to personal life. The answer was yes." No, the answer IS yes! Since the study attempted to see if impressions ARE tainted (present tense), then the response must also be stated in present tense. Truth be known, I would have used past tense for both sentences, since the study has obviously already taken place.

Then, from later in the same column: Researchers say if more than one in five items that adorn your office are personal in nature, you may be viewed as unprofessional." NO! First, I would have used "one in five items WHICH adorn your office." But more importantly, "more than one in five items IS personal in nature," not ARE. One is a singular word. Therefore, it IS personal in nature, not ARE. We never say "One person are coming to the party tonight." We say "one person IS." Common sense, people. Common sense.

Monday, October 1, 2007

From A Recent Business Letter

"This stock will hopefully allow "our team" to offer the only fixtures in stock in the Midwest." First, "hopefully" is both a weak and superfluous adverb. Omitting it entirely instills more confidence in me as a manufacturer's rep. Also, the quotation marks around "our team" are unnecessary. And whenever ANY business letter includes any of the following references:
1. "Our team,"
2. The word "solutions," or
3. "Contact either myself or _____ for more details,"
Then I lose interest. Good Lord, people. We are not a team. We are in business together. If we were a team, when the hell is our first game?

Then, later in the same letter, we find: "The co-rep policies would be as are detailed on the following page:" This is so awkward I don't even know where to begin. How about, "The co-rep policies are:" Enough said.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Indianapolis Star, 9/21/07

"The verdict said 'guilty.' Like so much else in the confusing, contentious Floyd Landis doping case, though, none of the answers are really that simple."

First, "As with" is actually the proper way to begin the second sentence. "Like" implies an upcoming simile, which, let's face it, never occurred. Second, the word "really" is superfluous. It should be removed. And most importantly, "none of the answers IS that simple." Dammit, people. None means "no one" – a singular word. Therefore, NONE IS – not NONE ARE! In fact, never use NONE ARE. Agreement seems to be a major problem with the Star. They always write, "the couple are getting married on such-and-such a date," rather than "the couple IS…" Remember, "couple" is a singular word. It may contain two individuals, but those two individuals comprise just ONE couple.