Grammar Giggle – Advertising Matters

I pulled this out of my mailbox this weekend and noticed three errors before I even got back to my house. When the part of an advertisement intended to catch your eye has a glaring error, it really makes the company look bad. While they were consistent with their mistake, there was another anonymous placement of a comma.



Grammar Giggle-Painting and Grammar

I recently went to a painting party. I had a great time and ended up with a beautiful picture, which I’m still not convinced I actually painted. While on a break, I noticed their scrolling information about future classes on monitors throughout the facility. I saw these two errors. Even if your business is not grammar, you have people reading everything you have there and, perhaps, making judgments about your business based on that. A review of these slides should have caught the mistakes.


Grammar Giggle – Sing Me Up For That!

Once again, my news channel comes through for me in the latest Grammar Giggle. This is proof that spell check is not all that you need to have quality work. You actually need to READ what you’ve written–in context–to make sure it is correct. “Sign” and “sing” all share the same letters, but mean completely different things.

Sing me up

Grammar Giggle -Dear Server, Please Purchase A Gift Certificate

I caught this on a recent dinner out during a weekend with friends. I think the comma is unnecessary–it should be a period–and the wording at the end is confusing. Taken literally, I am encouraged to ask my server to purchase a gift certificate. So I would say “Dear Server, please purchase me a gift certificate” and the server would purchase a gift certificate and give it to me for future use. Perhaps it should say “Ask your server about purchasing one.”

Gift certs

The State of Capitalizing “State”

StateI need to clarify something in a blog post published in 2014 on Capitalization in Legal Documents. The capitalization of the word “state” is obviously very confusing depending on your preferred resource.

According to the Gregg Reference Manual, “state” should be capitalized:

  • When it is part of the full name of the state as in the State of Arizona
  • When the word it modifies in capitalized as in the State Corrections Director
  • When referring to the state as a party to litigation or a governmental actor as in “The State filed a Motion to Dismiss”

Most other sources I’ve found disagree with Gregg’s first example and say that “state” should not be capitalized when used as a proper noun but is capitalized when used in place of a particular state or referring to a specific governmental body:

  • The residents of the state of California have a reputation for being healthier than most.
  • The corporation, registered to do business in the state of California, is actually an Arizona corporation.

According to another favorite resource of attorneys, the Chicago Manual of Style, “where the government rather than the place is meant, the words state, city, and the like are usually capitalized.”

  • The State of Florida’s statutes regarding corporations are codified at Title XXXVI.

Another resource simplifies it as when you are using “state” as a common noun, you would not capitalize it:

  • She loved visiting the Northwestern states because she loved the rain.
  • The state of California has a beautiful coastline.

But do capitalize “state” if it is part of a proper name

  • I love visiting Washington State (as opposed to Washington, D.C.—although I love visiting there too).
  • I have visited New York City, but not the rest of New York State (capitalized to differentiate between New York City and New York State).

All resources agree that “state” should be capitalized when it is a party to litigation.

  • The response to the Motion to Dismiss was filed by the State yesterday.

The only comfort in all this confusion is that obviously everyone is confused. In fact, in many recent U.S. Supreme Court cases, “state” is capitalized in different instances, which may be a holdover from style from the 18th Century when many common nouns are capitalized.