We all make mistakes; it’s the downside of being human. I’ve made more than my share by moving too quickly, not proofreading, not thinking and, yes, just being stupid. I’ve been embarrassed, I’ve embarrassed others, and I’ve learned. And every particular mistake has only been made once. And, thankfully, none of those have made it into print.
The blunders I want to talk about today are ones about which people should know better, or at least be caught before they go public.
I went to Old Town the other day here in San Diego. Residents of our city come to this particular large, comprehensive center and bring out of town guests. We often go to the center for the restaurants and atmosphere, a Spanish village teeming with mariachi, castanets, and bright colors. The rent is astronomical, only the most successful and intrepid retailers can afford it. The signage must have to pass through several levels to be approved for the unique environment of this center.
In other words, this is not a strip mall. It’s a major shopping, eating, and meeting place in town with huge exposure.
So I was shocked to find this:
One can’t help but think about the process of making this sign. It has to start with the store owner, then go to the person sketching the original concept, the sign guy who produces a computerized presentation, the tenant improvement coordinator who approves it, the leasing agent, the sign committee, the owners of the shopping center, and, finally, the tenant (the one paying for the sign).
How did this get through every single level and still get approved? Were they all lacking in the elementary education of plural vs. possessive?
It’s beyond me. No, actually, it makes me mad. No, sad. No, depressed. Are we at the level of accepting sub-standard work because everybody else tells us it’s not a big deal?
How incredibly disappointing.
If you haven’t already, pick up a book called Eats, Shoots, and Leaves, an irreverent comment on today’s English showing how commas (and other punctuation) change the entire meaning of a sentence. Take out the commas in the title, you are talking about Panda Bears. Include the commas, you are talking someone taking a basketball shot. See? Commas make a difference.
Commas save lives, too:
Let’s eat, Gramma! We all know what that means. Good home-cooked food and maybe some chocolate cake.
Take out the comma and it’s a conspiracy to kill good ole Granny – what did she ever do to you except give you cookies and kisses?
It’s is ONLY used as the contraction for IT IS. It’s not possessive. “I thought its color beautiful” is correct. A tough one, I know, because we are all trained to use commas in possessives. In this case – no.
You’re means YOU ARE. Your means something belongs to you. I see this one all the time and I make judgments about the people writing it – especially in business.
Some of us don’t want to
except accept mediocrity as the norm, and we are now in positions where we make decisions.
Trust me, a resume with simple grammatical and spelling errors will get tossed. You may be the most qualified person for the job, but it tells me you don’t follow through. A presentation or business plan with errors lose their luster right off the bat. You may still get the presentation appointment, but you’ve lost some of the battle going in.
Use spelling and grammar check on Word carefully – sometimes the suggestions are not correct because the computer is not in the business of understanding concepts.
For a quick reference check, go to www.grammarbook.com. The author expert used to send out free e-books on the basics, it doesn’t look like she does that now, but I see you can brings things up on the site you’re wondering about and get the correct answer. Simple, easy, and fast!