Tag Archives: spelling

Sspeling Erorrs

I don’t usually bother with spelling mistakes, but when they appear on expensively produced ads, it seems to me that someone should have proofread before printing. Or before handing the finished product over to the customer. Or, at the very least, before hanging the sign on a store window, truck, or sandwich board.

Whether to double a letter or not seems to attract (atract?) errors like iron filings to a magnet (fillings to a magnett?):


Does this shop offer feline treats (mice, catnip, permission to snooze on a sofa that’s usually off-limits)? Or does the store host gossip fests, where guests can be as catty as they please?

Maybe the shop that does “cattering” should lend one of its Ts to this food cart:









I leave aside the issue of eating lunch at 10 AM or 4 PM, given that New York is the city that never sleeps and meals roam around the clock dial like sleepwalkers in a kitchen. Nor will I focus on the random capital letters, though I can’t help wondering whether lunch Time is supposed to reflect the eternal nature and importance of Time or whether the expression refers to a magazine. Instead I’ll confine myself to the meaning of the first line. Is the food cart offering to have the employee in charge of placing rice on the plate accompany you while you eat? And is Free Can Soda a call to action? I do like that sm matches content to form. The abbreviation sm is indeed small.

I don’t want you to think that whether to double the letter T is the only problem out there. S comes with stress in these signs:
















Had I a marker and not an aversion to graffiti, I’d remove the extra S from “tresspassingin the second sign and add it to kind in the first. While wondering whether the second sign banned a hair-exchange app, I’d also delete the extra f from proffessional  or get rid of the word entirely. I mean, who else works in a tailor shop? Amateurs? Hobbyists? Not for those prices they don’t.

Now if only these stores would shell out a little cash for some proffessionnall prooffrreadding.

Another Inconvenient Truth

There are lots of “inconvenient truths” out there these days, one of which is this: “Convenience” and “convenient” are like the dinosaurs ten days after the asteroid hit. They’re still around, but they’re wobbling, as you see in these signs:









So much to love here: “The Inconvenient,” for one, plus the capitalization. Also, the sign doesn’t tell where “The Other Location” is. I guess it’s in the “if you have to ask, you can’t afford to shop here” category.

Round two:









I’m trying to decide whether “sorry for inconvenient” is better than “The Inconvenient.” Also, the dash over the letter i is a nice touch.. But this one is the best:









Points in favor include the fact that it’s not “inconvenient store.” But this is a backlit, permanent, glass sign. Nobody thought to spellcheck “convenience”?

I’d write more, but it’s an inconvinience time.

Misteaks Were Made

NYU, not you too! I took a noncredit course there recently, but the quality of the content and discussion sadly did not match this letter sent from New York University’s administration. Take a look:

If I “continuously check” my schedule, I’m on the ALBERT website 24/7. Is that what you demand of me, NYU? I’m interested in learning, but I have to protect my eyeballs. Now if you’d asked me to check my schedule “continually,” I could log on from time to time to see what’s new.

If I didn’t find proper usage at a university, why was I expecting correct spelling in a sign? Usually I resign myself to four or five errors per walk, and I normally don’t bother posting misspelled words. But this one’s an exception:








Seen in a paint store so high-end that its rear touches the sky, the sign attempts to match vocabulary level to price. Notice “formulation” instead of “formula,” “master craftsman” (just one guy does it all), and “curated collection.” I’ve already written about the trend toward “curation” instead of, say, “selection” in a post entitled “Curation Nation” at http://www.grammarianinthecity.com/?p=1576, so I won’t bother snarking about that part of the sign. But if you’re paying top dollar for small batches in formulations by a master craftsman in a curated collection, shouldn’t somebody spell “intricately” right? Indeed, as I tried to type “intracately” just now, autocorrect kicked in. It’s actually hard to make a mistake with that word, but I guess if you’re on the “master” level, you can manage.

Next one is a sentence from a mystery novel:








I’m assuming the author meant “preyed.” As a writer myself, I know that errors endure no matter how many times I proofread. I also know that a few make it past the editor’s scrutiny. I’m posting this as a reminder to myself to be more careful. Which brings me to this headline in the NY Times:



I wanted to mock the Times for the circle of logic represented by “Failing to Succeed.” After all, what else could you fail at? But on the fourth or fifth reading (yes, I’m a little slow sometimes), I grasped the point. You can’t win outright, so you may as well compromise. This one is clever, not wrong. So in the spirit of compromise, I’ll continuously try to fail at success, pray on all wildlife (who could use a little help from heaven), and consider repainting the living room with a curated color.

Well, maybe not the curated paint. I have to have some standards, and I’m drawing the line at “intracate.”

Grade: D+

I wrote an earlier post (http://www.grammarianinthecity.com/?p=1012) about a luncheonette interested in hiring a “grilled man” for food prep:

Grilled and Deli Man









Somehow it took the shop owners a long time to find someone suitable. I can’t imagine why.  I also can’t imagine why adding a D where it doesn’t belong is a growing trend. Check out this restaurant’s boast:




I know reality television shows are popular, but I had no idea that food “lived” on television. Do they lock the veggies and chops in a house and film clashes between them? Or drop them in a picturesque spot and vote a certain number of calories off the island each week? I assume the signwriter intended to say “live,” as in “happening now.” But doesn’t the fact that this sign’s been around for months invalidate the whole concept? I stopped in anyway; lunch was delicious.

Another stray D wandered into this sign:


Okay, I can see “specializing” or “specialists.” But “specialized”? The past participle “specialized” implies that the employees used to focus on “hand cleaning & theatrical costumes”  but now have a broader range. Or, they dropped out of the field entirely. And then there’s “hand cleaning.” Don’t most people take care of that chore themselves? Despite the fact that this is a city where many people have breakfast, lunch, and dinner delivered, not to mention laundry and just about every other human need, you’d think hand cleaning would be an in-house job, even if not a personal one. I also note that the cleaners work “on” their “own plants.” Are we talking begonias here? Factories? I’ll figure that one out later. Someone’s coming over now to clean my hands.

Apostrophes. Sigh.

If I had my way, apostrophes would be exiled from English. My reasons are sound. Many perfectly fine languages do quite well without this punctuation mark. Plus, few people misunderstand the writer’s intended meaning just because an errant apostrophe has crashed a sentence or gone AWOL. Alas, I don’t have my way very often, and never in matters of apostrophes. Perhaps that’s why I seldom bother snapping photos of the many errors I see on signs around New York. But every once in a while, I can’t resist. This sign caught my eye yesterday:







I’m fine with an apostrophe-less “ladies,” because nouns do morph into adjectives at times (e.g. “Yankees baseball”). However, “mens” isn’t a noun. In fact, it’s not even a word. “Men” is an irregular plural, so the only legitimate term is “men’s,” the possessive form. But are the alternatives fair?  You can write “ladies’ & men’s” or “ladies and men” and claim symmetry and equality.  Yet while you might talk about “ladies tailoring” you probably wouldn’t say “men tailoring.” (The technical reason: It doesn’t sound right. Plus, who’s to say that you’re not talking about a guy waving a tape measure around?) Despite the difficulty of fashioning an apostrophe in neon, I think this sign should read  “ladies’ and men’s.”

This sign writer took a different approach:


Fairness demands that because you can have a “man cave,” you should also be able to have a “man shirt.” Working backward on the logic chain to the first sign in this post, you end up with “woman and man tailoring.” I can live with that usage. In fact, I can think of many a woman and man I wouldn’t mind tailoring to my specifications  — talks less, vacuums more, stuff like that. But strict grammarians might object.

One more for (and from) the road:


Why do people keep trying to make plurals with apostrophes? Upstate’s “hen’s” may be the “happiest,” but I bet upstate’s grammarians are pretty glum. They may even be the “unhappiest grammarian’s.”

Bad Mood

New Yorkers are not normally celebrated for their cheery outlook, and current events haven’t improved the mood around the city. So this photo, sent by my friend Catherine, seems particularly relevant right now:

All natural ingredients!

All natural ingredients.









Gripe jelly – gives a whole new slant on “you are what you eat,” doesn’t it? If your New Year’s resolution was to be more peaceful,  you may want to avoid the jelly at this Lexington Avenue deli.

Moving on, here’s a sign from a truck parked on East 78th Street:

I can break my remote all by myself, thanks.

Remote control breaking?









I was under the impression that most people break the remote all by themselves. I do it all the time, usually by dropping it in a bowl of whatever I’m eating while I watch TV. But if this sign is accurate, you can hire someone else for that chore. Busy New Yorkers, take note. Alternate interpretation: If it’s too much trouble to attend, say, a political debate and bang your head against the wall in frustration, a techie will break your skull with a keystroke at a distant (probably outsourced) computer company. How convenient.

By the way, if anyone actually understands the meaning of “remote control breaking,” please let me know. In the meantime, snack on some gripe jelly and enjoy your bad mood.

The Price Is (Maybe) Right

Some luxury marketers brag that if you have to ask how much something costs, you can’t afford to buy it. But we non-one-percenters do need to know how much of our hard-earned money we’re plunking down. Which question is hard to answer, if you rely on signs like these:

Any 1/2 hours?

Any 1/2 hours?









How much do you pay to park here, not counting tax? If this were a math problem on the SAT, your choices might be (A) $4.22 for the whole day (B) $4.22 for a half hour (C) $4.22 for some unspecified number of half hours or (D) any of the above, depending upon how well you tip the parking attendant at holiday time. I’d probably go for (D), realistic New Yorker that I am, but (B) is not out of the question. But how can a driver figure out the price while whizzing past this parking lot, eyes (hopefully) on pedestrians, other cars, and bicycles?

Car parked, you may want to eat a little something. Specifically, six inches of something:

Six inches of what?

Six inches of what?

This sign hangs in the window of a sandwich shop, so I guess you’re paying for a “six-inch” roll, with one of six designated fillings. But if it’s a meal, do you also get six inches of beverage? If so, is the liquid in a narrow test tube or in a broad-mouthed beer stein? I’m hoping for dessert, too. Maybe a six-inch éclair.

One more:

Those two-letter words will get you every time.

My favorite word is now OT.









I don’t usually bother posting spelling mistakes (too easy a target), but it’s not often I find a misspelled two-letter word. I imagine that “OT” should be “TO.” Even after you adjust the spelling, though, you have to wonder whether the rent is “up ot” half off. After all, the sign specifies “EVERYTHING,” so you can make a case for false advertising if rent is not discounted too.

The moral of this story: Buyer beware!




Don’t Mess with a Grandma

I more or less gave up on apostrophes a long time ago. There seems to be a cosmic jar filled with this punctuation mark, which writers shake over their texts, letting apostrophes fall willy-nilly into words. Thus I ignored this sign, which shoves an apostrophe into a plural, where it does not belong:

Tuesday's. Sigh.

Tuesday’s. Sigh.

Some grammarians call this usage a “greengrocer’s apostrophe.” (Notice the correct use of the possessive apostrophe in the term, which names a punctuation error.) Why “greengrocer’s”? My opinion, based on no research whatsoever, is that people who use this term believe a shopkeeper (greengrocer) is more likely than a non-business owner to insert apostrophes into plurals. That belief doesn’t match my experience. If I stacked all the student essays, term papers, and other writing I graded and corrected during my teaching career, the top of the pile would be within spitting distance of the moon and maybe even topple over onto a moon rock or two. Nearly all of those writing efforts included a “greengrocer’s apostrophe,” and none of the students were grocers, though many were (environmentally) green.

Though I scarcely glance at extra apostrophes, I did stop short when I saw this sign:


Granny’s combative.









The color difference between the first and last pair of lines initially led me to believe that the tavernkeeper was making a statement about grandmothers and their alleged capacity to slug someone. But I’m a grandmother, and though sorely tempted at times, I have never punched anyone. Then I noticed that no punctuation appeared anywhere at all. Perhaps the sign is a statement about grannies’ tendency to wallop cocktails, I mused. (Sidepoint: There are hot cocktails? Who knew! ) The image of grandmothers bopping martinis, mimosas, and other drinks made me wonder whether a new temperance movement was brewing. I still don’t know what the sign means. Just to be safe, I have one piece of advice: Don’t mess with a grandma, especially when she’s drinking.

Grade D+

I’ve written elsewhere (“Missing and Presumed” at http://www.grammarianinthecity.com/?p=311) about dropping the letter D from expressions such as “grill cheese,” “old fashion,” and “never close, open 24/7.” This sign has the opposite problem:

Grilled and Deli Man

Grilled and Deli Man









Reflected light mars the photo, so to clarify, the store is hiring a “Delivery, Cashier, Grilled & Deli Man.” If I take the noun “man” as the center of this statement from a non-equal-opportunity- employer, the other words serve as modifiers. So the store seeks a “delivery man,” a “cashier man” (turning the noun “cashier” into an adjective), and a “grilled and deli man.”

The last phrase leads me to a couple of questions. Does an applicant have to submit proof that detectives placed him in a windowless room under a bright lamp where they grilled him for hours about, presumably, his qualifications for working in a deli? I can hear the boss now: “Pre-grilled applicants save interview time.” Or is the shop hiring a man who has spent some time over charcoal? I shudder at that last possibility. I shudder at the spelling/grammar error too, but less. Much less.

What’s Up?

Common wisdom holds that New Yorkers are constantly on the move. We walk fast, we talk fast, and we live in “the city that never sleeps.” Yet the number of stores advertising laundry services implies that we’re also a lazy lot. We value our couch-potato time too much to hang around watching a washer and dryer clean our clothes – or even to visit the site where these machines are located. So we have someone else stop by, empty the hamper, and take the stuff away. The problem is that no one seems to agree on what this service should be called. Check out these signs:

P1010852 (2)






P1010854 (3) P1010879


To hyphenate or not to hyphenate seems to be the question when you compare the first two signs, but the third throws in  another possibility: a single word. Which is right? A quick dictionary search on the Internet reveals that as a verb (We will pick up your laundry), two separate words are the only way to go.  Many sites call for a single word (pickup) when you need a noun referring to one, unified action. After digging a bit, I located one hyphenated noun (pick-up). But only one. If you favor majority rule, dump the hyphen.

I confess that I love this sign best, though in no way is it correct in Standard English:

IC - Where are you?

IC – Where are you?




How economical. The customer doesn’t pay for the pk up, and the shop-owner doesn’t pay for the letters I and C.

I’ll end with the other side of the equation – the return. Here’s my favorite sign for this service:







This sign appears on the awning of a liquor store. I assume you’re not surprised. If you are, have a couple of drinks. You’ll then discover that we delivery makes perfect sense. In fact, after a few swigs of good Chianti,  I delivery – and you are too!