A Punctuation Pet Peeve

August 5th, 2008 • Kate

My client Kater Cheek blogged recently about poor punctuation in stores:

Today I was at a grocery store and they’ve made their labels print out a little tag at the bottom that says “Thank’s from Fry’s.” That one I couldn’t let go. I wrote them an email telling them that they ought to have their signage written by the educated, native English speakers on the staff, because bad grammar sends a negative impression. They’ll probably ignore it.

A lot of people do ignore bad grammar, but when you’re writing an email to a prospective agent, you really do need to pay attention.
Now, granted, I’m not sitting here as the grammar police, and I’m sure I use words incorrectly at times. I frequently mispronounce words in conversation that I’ve only ever seen read and not heard, and Rexroth often finds himself correcting me. (Thanks, sweetie!) But that’s among friends and loved ones. Do you want a typo on your resume? No, of course not. And you don’t want it on your query, either.
Give your query a meticulous going-over before you send it — if you can, have a impartial friend take a glance as well. Make sure you’re not substituting “you’re” for “your” or “there” for “their” or any of a million other small mistakes a spell check won’t catch.
And for those of you who’ve done the whole Grammar Police thing, tell me: what are your punctuation pet peeves?

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10 Responses to “A Punctuation Pet Peeve”

  1. Rexroth Says:

    I do that?
    I'm vocab police?
    *hangs head in shame*

  2. hldyer Says:

    I have lots of grammar pet peeves, but I think the most disturbing one came when I was in undergrad.
    I received a flier from a copy shop that read:
    Why stress? Let US type and proof you're term paper!
    No, it wasn't a joke. *shudders*

  3. Carrie Says:

    I'm so glad I'm not alone. See, I proofread menus. Constantly. My favorite brewery used to serve "bluberry" ale. So when I ordered it, I pronounced it like blubbery and always got the strangest looks.

  4. Trish Says:

    While I haven't seen it used much in print, I have a big problem with "a whole nother".

  5. dust Says:

    "You're not on the good squad. You ARE the goon squad."
    It's vs. its.
    Otherwise, it takes a stack of problems to really torque me off.

  6. beth Says:

    As an English teacher, this drives me CRAZY. Some that I see cropping up a lot recently are:
    would of –> would have
    prolly –> probably
    using the wrong there
    using because at the start of a sentence, but not making it a whole sentence

  7. Nadine Says:

    I'm always the one to notice spelling/grammar errors on menus or signs, but one the other day was so obvious, I hope everyone in the place caught it.
    The sign said "Shake machine out of order. We apologized for your inconvient."
    I couldn't believe it!

  8. Ellen B. Says:

    My punctuation peeve is that I wish newspapers and academia/publishing would agree on the serial comma (the one before "and" in a series). Having switched careers back and forth between academia and newspapers and publishing, I've had to re-train my fingers five times. (Newspaper style usually is to omit the serial comma. Everyone else puts it in.)
    Can't we all just get along?
    Ellen Booraem

  9. jeanoram Says:

    I'm a little late jumping in on this one, but I too, have some pet peeves.
    Up here in Canada we are losing our Canadian spelling which I feel is linked to our identity as a nation. I blame MS Word. ๐Ÿ™‚ Anyway, there is a college nearby that has mixed its Canadian and American spelling on its brass honour roll plaque. You guessed it, Canadian and American spelling of 'honour/honor' all over the place.
    When people are speaking I feel the distinct, somewhat primal urge to slap then when they utter the words 'somewheres', 'anywheres' or 'ascared'. Seriously.
    But these quirks make me more interesting, right?
    (BTW, I am relieved to know I'm not the only one who mispronounces words they have only read.)

  10. Caryn Caldwell Says:

    Yes, I got behind on blog-reading and am now commenting on an old post, but I couldn't help myself. Not because I plan to list my punctuation pet peeves — as a former English teacher and, after that, copyeditor, I have so many grammar and punctuation pet peeves it would probably be impossible to catalogue them all. But I simply had to share the Engrish site at http://www.engrish.com/. If you haven't seen it, it's a must. It has examples of poorly-used English on signs in Asian countries. The ways non-native speakers use English never fail to make me giggle.