Jose Carillo's Forum


This page seeks to promote good English usage in everyday life—whether at home, at school, in the workplace, in public platforms, in the mass media, in books, and anywhere else where the printed or spoken word is used. In short, this page will serve as some sort of grammar police against blatant or grievous public misuses of English.

So, whenever you encounter such misuse, share it through this page in the spirit of constructive criticism. Our ultimate goal, of course, is to bring the misuse to the attention of those responsible so they can make the necessary correction.

The problem with the chosen test answer is its faulty syntax

Question by Miss Mae, Forum member (June 19, 2013):

Could you please explain why C is the correct answer?

American artist Grant Wood is famous for iconic images such as paintings as 
      A                                              B                                       C
“American,” which became one of the most parodied artworks within American popular culture.
My answer: D
Correct answer: C

Note: The sentence was from TOEFL Structure and Written Expression Test #1.

My reply to Miss Mae:

Your question is about Test Item #78 of TOEFL Structure and Written Expression Test #1. It belongs to the tests under Part B. Written Expression. The directions for these tests are as follows:

In these tests, each sentence has four underlined words or phrases. The four underlined parts of the sentence are marked A, B, C and D. Identify the one underlined word or phrase that must be changed in order for the sentence to be correct. Then, on your answer sheet, find the number of the question and fill in the space that corresponds to the letter of the answer you have chosen.

Now, Test Item #78 is as follows:

78.  American artist Grant Wood is famous for iconic images such as paintings as  
             A                                              B                                      C
      “American,” which became one of the most parodied artworks within American popular  

      Answer: (A) (B) (C) (D)

The correct answer choice for this test is the underlined word or phrase that must be changed in order to be correct; in other words, it is the grammatically wrong part of the sentence. By inspection, we will find that there’s nothing grammatically wrong with how each of these grammatical elements are used in the sentence: (A) “American,” (B) “famous,” and (D) “within.” In the case of (C) “such as,” however, there’s something wrong with the syntax of the expression formed by using it: “…famous for iconic images such as paintings as ‘American’.” Specifically, the form “such as paintings as” is grammatically faulty and awkward. For the whole sentence to express its idea correctly, that form needs to be grammatically corrected as follows: “…famous for iconic images in such paintings as ‘American’.” Answer Choice (C) “such as,” which is grammatically faulty, is therefore the correct answer.

It’s possible that you got confused in answering that particular test question because the explicit directions for both Part B. Written Expression and Part A. Structure were inadvertently not provided for this particular set of TOEFL practice tests. We are sorry for this oversight, and we have now provided those explicit directions for the benefit of those who’d be likewise taking these practice tests.

Thank you for your question and for the opportunity it has given us to find out that the directions to those two parts of the test have been overlooked.

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Watch out for subject-verb agreement in incomplete sentence tests

Question by Miss Mae, Forum member (June 17, 2013):

Could you please explain why the dependent clause in the sentence below requires the past form of continue?

As strong winds and torrential rains __________ to threaten lives on the Vietnam mainland, the government advised the residents to evacuate immediately.
        (A) continued
        (B) continuing
        (C) continuously
        (D) continues

My answer: D
Correct answer: A

Note: The sentence was from TOEIC Practice Test #1 - Incomplete Sentences

My reply to Miss Mae:

Based on its construction, the sentence in question needs a verb to make sense. Answer Choice “(B) continuing” couldn’t be the correct answer because the progressive form of the verb is grammatically faulty here. Answer Choice “(C) continuously” is an adverb and doesn’t fit into the sentence construction. This leaves only Answer Choice “(A) continued” and Answer Choice “(D) continues” as the only possible answers.

On inspection, we find that the subject of the dependent clause is the compound subject “strong winds and torrential rains.” This subject is plural, so Answer Choice “(D) continues” will result in a subject-verb disagreement; of course, it could have been a correct answer if it were in the present-tense plural form “continue.” This being the case, Answer Choice “(A) continued,” with the verb in the past tense, is the only possible correct answer. Recall that in English grammar, the past tense form of the verb is the same regardless of whether the subject is singular or plural.

Rejoinder from Miss Mae (June 18, 2013):

So if the answer listed in D is “continue,” it would be right?

My reply to Miss Mae:

Yes, absolutely. In English-testing parlance, such an answer choice is called a distractor—ananswer that can be correct in an altered context. It is meant to test grammatical proficiency and sensitivity to the nuances of the language.

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Previous Feature:

The improper and proper usage of the Oxford or serial comma

Question by Tata Felis, new Forum member (April 24, 2013):

I saw this post of Facebook, “Why I use the “Oxford comma”... and why you should, too:

“Example of a sentence with the Oxford comma: ‘For Mawe’s birthday party, they invited two sexy dancers, Lorie, and Mia.’

“Example of a sentence without the Oxford comma: ‘For Mawe’s birthday party, they invited two sexy dancers, Lorie and Mia.’

Kindly enlighten me if what was stated above is true and what, indeed, is the Oxford comma.

My reply to Tata Felis:

It’s a good thing you brought up that Facebook posting for clarification. Whoever posted it obviously meant well in advocating the use of the Oxford comma, but unfortunately, the sentences given as examples for its usage seriously misrepresent what it is. This is then an excellent opportunity to rectify the error so that Facebook members and English users in general won’t be misled about the nature of this form of punctuation. 

The Oxford comma, which is also known as the serial comma or series comma or Harvard comma, is called into service only when a sentence lists a series of three or more terms or grammar elements. It is placed immediately before the conjunction “and,” “or,” or “nor” that links the last term or grammar element to the series. In the following sentence, for example, the comma preceding the conjunction “and” is an Oxford comma: “The private aircraft made stopovers in Manila, Seoul, and Anchorage.” Without the Oxford comma, of course, that same sentence will drop the comma before “and Anchorage,” as follows: “The private aircraft made stopovers in Manila, Seoul and Anchorage.”

The fundamental error in that sentence posted on Facebook about the Oxford comma is that it has only two serial elements, namely “Lorie” and “Mia.” Thus, in that sentence, “For Mawe’s birthday party, they invited two sexy dancers, Lorie, and Mia,” the comma preceding “and Mia” isn’t a valid Oxford comma; it’s a totally unnecessary punctuation that only serves to truncate the sentence. However, if at least one more sexy dancer (let’s call her “Alona”) had been invited to that party, the Oxford comma would have been grammatically called for: “For Mawe’s birthday party, they invited three sexy dancers, Lorie, Mia, and Alona.” 

Because of this fundamental error in that example for Oxford comma usage, this example in that Facebook posting for the non-use of the Oxford is also wrong: “For Mawe’s birthday party, they invited two sexy dancers, Lorie and Mia.” In fact, there’s no serial comma at all in that sentence; the comma after the word “dancers” isn’t a serial comma but simply a comma that sets off the appositive phrase “Lorie and Mia.”

I said at the outset that whoever made that Facebook posting meant well in advocating the Oxford comma, and I’d like to add that I myself am a consistent user of the serial comma in my writings. But I need to point out here that the usage of the Oxford comma isn’t a hard-and-fast rule in English but only a stylistic preference.

Although most style guides in American English prescribe the use of the Oxford or serial comma, many print journalism outlets in the United States and in the Philippines are actually averse to using it. In my case, though, I consistently use the Oxford comma because I strongly believe that it enhances the clarity of sentences with serial lists, particularly those with items consisting of long phrases with more than four or five words, like the following:

“The major businesses in the domestic pet services industry are traditional veterinary services, fancy pet grooming and makeover shops, a wide assortment of animal and bird food, freshwater and marine fish of various kinds and aquarium equipment and supplies for industrial and home use.”

Now put an Oxford comma right before the last item, “and aquarium equipment and supplies for industrial and home use,” and see how powerfully it clarifies that sentence!

“Why I consistently use the serial comma” 
“On the question over my use of the serial comma”

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The insensitivity of doctors saying that seeing them is “pleasurable”

This continues the discussion thread on my posting on “It’s terribly insensitive, obtuse to say that seeing a doctor is pleasurable” last March 31, 2013.

Feedback from Miss Mae, Forum member (April 2, 2013):

I agree! So, it’s “wife’s know best” now? How about for women also?

Feedback from Mwita Chacha, Forum member (April 4, 2013):

Sir, what makes you reckon doctors are among the most English-proficient people? I’m a medical student, and I don’t remember attending a lecture without catching a professor failing to deliver his or her message by virtue of poor English. And this applies equally to both local and imported (American) lecturers. So if asked for an opinion, I will quickly respond that doctors are among the leading less-knowledgeable people in English. There is no argument, of course, that to become a doctor you’ve to go through a relatively lengthy, sometimes demanding course; however, that doesn’t necessarily guarantee becoming at home with English.

Feedback from carmelyne, new Forum member (April 4, 2013):

Isn’t it a bit redundant to say first before the word before?

“To avoid any inconvenience, please register at the nurses’ station first before seeing your doctor.”

I would prefer:

“To avoid any inconvenience, please register at the nurses’ station before seeing your doctor.”

My reply to carmelyne:

Is it a bit redundant to use the adverb “first” in the following sentence?

“To avoid any inconvenience, please register at the nurses’ station first before seeing your doctor.”

From a purely grammatical standpoint, it would seem so, for that sentence could very well go without “first”:

“To avoid any inconvenience, please register at the nurses’ station before seeing your doctor.”

When “first” is knocked off from that sentence, however, it loses the emphasis and sense of immediacy provided to the statement by that word. That word may look grammatically redundant when that statement is in written form, but semantically, it serves to give force and emotional context to the verb phrase “register at the nurses’ station.” It’s an example of what’s loosely called in grammar as an intensifier, a semantically vacuous filler that gives force or adds to the expressiveness of an idea instead of modifying or quantifying it. In that sentence, I would think that the intensifier “first” is semantically in the same league as the adverbs “right before” and “shortly before,” but a less demanding as well as more polite action cue than these two. (Other examples of intensifiers are “up” in the sentence “She cluttered up his room with thingamajigs” and “pretty” in “He’s pretty preoccupied right now.” Those words are not absolutely necessary, but see what’s lost when we knock them off from the sentence: “She cluttered his room with thingamajigs.” “He’s preoccupied right now.”)

In this context, I don’t think the adverb “first” is in any way redundant in the sentence in question.

Feedback from giggi, new Forum member (April 5, 2013):

I propose:

“Please register at the nurses’ station before consultation.”

 I am of the opinion that the word “pleasurable” is absolutely unnecessary in the notice.  I also believe that in notices of this sort, brevity should be a key word to keep in mind.

My reply to giggi:

Great! I like the way you made the notice much more concise—from 15 words to eight words, or by almost 47%. I just have one little reservation about your use of the word “consultation,” though. It makes the notice sound somewhat officious and standoffish. I think it would sound more natural if a less imposing word or phrase is used, like, say, “consulting a doctor” or “seeing a doctor.” The notice would then read as follows:

“Please register at the nurses’ station before consulting a doctor.”


“Please register at the nurses’ station before seeing a doctor.”

What do you think?

Rejoinder from Mwita Chacha (April 8, 2013):

It’s tough to tell, Sir, why it has taken me this long to realize there’s something fatally erroneous in “my wife Elean.” Of course, if the objective was signal to Forum members that you’re married to more than one wife, I apologize for being too searching. But if my assumption is correct that you’re a monogamist, I don’t want to imagine how angrily your supposedly sole better half might react after coming across the phrase in question. She’ll rightly infer you’re practicing polygamism secretly.

My reply to Mwita Chacha:

I can appreciate your long perplexity over the form “my wife Elean,” and you need not apologize for thinking that “there’s something fatally erroneous” about that form. Whether I’m a monogamist or a polygamist, though, that form is grammatically correct and semantically aboveboard. My wife Elean knows the usage quite well, so I must assure you that she never reacts violently each time I use that form in my Forum postings and other writings. But I do realize that like you, many nonnative speakers of English have been taught to think that the noun “Elean” could only be an appositive to the noun phrase “my wife,” in which case “Elean” should be set off by a pair of commas in the composite form, as in this sentence: “I read aloud to my wife, Elean, all of the suggested versions.” When that pair of commas is supplied to set off “Elean,” it’s supposed to signal that the first-person speaker has only one wife or that he’s a monogamist; without those commas, that he has one or more wives aside from “Elean,” making him a polygamist. These, however, are fanciful and unwarranted conclusions that arise from the wrong idea that “Elean” in “my wife Elean” could only be an appositive and nothing else.

At this point, think of “my wife Elean” as a noun phrase in its own right, in much the same way as “the game roulette” is a distinctive noun phrase in the sentence “The game roulette is a highly addictive form of gambling.” When you do that, your reflexive conclusion that “Elean” is an appositive to “my wife” will collapse like a stack of cards. Indeed, in the noun phrase “my wife Elean,” the noun “Elean” is much more logically and readily viewed as a restrictive modifier of the noun phrase “my wife,” in which case there’s absolutely no need for a pair of commas to set it off from that noun phrase. (In the same way, we don’t write “The game, roulette, is a highly addictive form of gambling,” for those commas would make “roulette” a nonrestrictive modifier that can very well be knocked off from that sentence.)

To clarify this often misunderstood and misapplied usage, I discussed appositive phrases of the restrictive type (those that don’t need to be set off by commas) in an essay that I posted in the Forum on September 4, 2010, “The parenthesis and its uses: the appositive phrase.” That essay is the second of a three-part series, “A unified approach to the proper use of punctuation in English.” I suggest you read the entire series for a much better grasp of the grammar and structure of appositives and other forms of modifiers.

Parenthesis by comma
The appositive phrase 
Parenthesis by dashes and parenthesis by parentheses

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Redundancy as a common grammar violation

Posting by giggi, new Forum member (April 6, 2013):

Redundancy is probably one of the most common grammar violations we see/hear around.  Just this morning, I heard the following on a radio newscast: “Elevated flyover to be constructed at EDSA/Taft intersection...”

Response from Mwita Chacha, Forum member (April 8, 2013):

Not all redundancies are as bad as you argue. Sometimes even formidable English writers or speakers deliberately make pleonastic statements for the sake of adding emphasis and highliting their points. So don’t always be automatically opposed to such constructions, but take time to see whether by making a repetition the writer or speaker has managed to argue the case more cleverly. I think you’ll agree with me that “I saw a speeding car hit a bicyclist with my own eyes” is more emphatic than “I saw a speeding car hit a bicyclist.”

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Terribly insensitive, obtuse to say that seeing a doctor is pleasurable

Two weeks ago, I asked for reactions from Forum members to the following notice in the hallway of a multiservice medical clinic in a major Metro Manila mall:

For a more pleasurable experience, please ensure you are registered with the nurse station prior to doctors consultation.

As I said in my posting, I was aghast at its insensitivity and obtuseness. I couldn’t imagine that such bad English could come from (or be tolerated by) medical doctors and health-care professionals who, without any doubt, are among the most educated and English-proficient people in this planet.

The grammar of that notice is faulty to begin with— “nurse station” should be “nurses’ station” and “prior to doctors consultation” should be “before consulting a doctor” or, more plainly, “before seeing a doctor.” The semantics and logic of the notice are terribly flawed—there’s a troubling disconnect between the act of prior “registration” and having “a more pleasurable experience” as a result. And its language register is way off normal—sensible people simply don’t talk like that in the real world.

I therefore decided to invite Forum members and guests to share their thoughts about the English of that notice and to improve it.

The first to respond to my invitation is Miss Mae, who made this posting last March 18, 2013:

How about this?

Register first to see a doctor

After all, the notice was already posted in the hallway of the clinic. Where else should patients register but in the nurse’s station?

Hmmm… “Register first to see a doctor” is definitely an improvement over the original, but I think it has oversimplified the message to the extent of losing its intended point. That point, of course, is the advantage to the patient of registering before seeing a doctor.

Then, on March 19, 2013, I received this e-mailed response from Mr. Juanito T. Fuerte, a Forum guest and FilAm balikbayan from Virginia in the U.S.A. who describes himself as “temporarily back in the country”:

I think I understand why you’re bothered by that sentence, “For a more pleasurable experience, please ensure you are registered with the nurse station prior to doctors consultation.” But, Joe, what, in the name of sanity, are you complaining about? C’mon, man!  Who wouldn’t want to have a “pleasurable experience”! And in a doctor’s office at that?

Let’s face it, Joe. You’re sick and not feeling well, which is why you went to see a doctor, right?  Then a big, bold sign tells you, more or less, that all you have to do is “register with the nurse station” (repeat, “nurse station,” which probably should be “nurses station”) and voila! You can now have a “pleasurable experience”! Man, if anything can make a person well in an instant, those magic words surely can! 

Ooh! La, la! That’s very ingenious of that doctor to come up with those very welcoming words!

Okay, Joe, so I’m a “dirty, old man,” and I apologize for getting carried away... Seriously now, how about something like this one?

For timely processing of patients, please see the receptionist first

You may even add “at the nurses station.” But I wouldn’t bother to add “prior to doctor consultation” because it’s obvious that patients are there for that reason. (One might miss out on having a “pleasurable experience,” but I think this will pass for something an English language guru like you would prefer to read).

Juanito’s comments are well taken, but I think this suggested rewrite of his, “For timely processing of patients, please see the receptionist first,” is decidedly dangerous! Patients go to see a doctor to be treated for their ailment, not to be “processed” in the same way as raw meat to sausage. There certainly will be no pleasure in that, I assure you!

Then, on March 25, 2013, I received this e-mailed feedback from Isabel E. in Hong Kong:

Regarding this medical office notice:
For a more pleasurable experience, please ensure you are registered with the nurse station prior to doctors consultation.

Joe—how weird! Did that clinic think patients were dumb enough to expect pleasure from seeing the quack? Did you get many folks correcting it? Here are my versions:

Direct & to the point:

Registration at nurses’ station required before doctor’s consultation

For quicker, efficient service, kindly register with the nurse & wait your turn to see the doctor.

Isabel’s three suggested versions sound much closer to how that problematic notice should be phrased and expressed, but I think they still don’t have the semantic precision required for that message. So, tossing around for a better, more succinct version, I read aloud to my wife Elean all of the above suggested versions and asked her what she thought.

“I think all those versions including the original notice have missed the point,” she said, “and that point is why it’s important for patients to register first before seeing a doctor. It’s definitely not for pleasure’s sake, to be sure. It is to avoid the inconvenience of being rebuffed when they go directly to the doctor without queuing up like all patients should.”

She then suggested the following version of that notice:

To avoid any inconvenience, please register at the nurses’ station first before seeing your doctor.

That, I think, hits the nail right on the head!

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Is seeing doctors ever pleasurable and can it be made even more so?

Recently, while waiting for an overly late doctor at a multiservice medical clinic in one of the major Metro Manila malls, I gawked at this oddly worded notice in the hallway:

For a more pleasurable experience, please ensure you are registered with the nurse station prior to doctors consultation.

I know that for most people needing medical attention, having to consult a doctor to find out what’s ailing them is never a pleasurable experience. In fact, it’s much more often an uncomfortable or excruciating one, which can become even more agonizing when the doctor is late by over an hour for the appointment. I therefore couldn’t fathom how a medical clinic that boasts of so many topnotch doctors and health care staff could ever think or assume that to see a doctor is a pleasurable experience to begin with, and that registering beforehand with the nurses’ station can make the medical consultation experience even more pleasurable.

So I asked myself: How come that the medical clinic had posted such an outrageously insensitive and insensible statement to waiting patients? I’ve always thought that medical doctors and other health-care professionals are among the most educated and English-proficient people in this planet, so they must be at the very least above-average communicators. Why then can’t that upscale medical clinic come up with a semantically, logically, and grammatically correct statement for that very basic message?

Let me say this straight: that notice seriously and embarrassingly fails to communicate. I am therefore inviting Forum members and guests—whether medical practitioners or not—to rephrase that notice so it would no longer be an affront to the sensibility of waiting patients.

Aside from posting the best five versions of the notice in the Forum, I intend to send them to the medical clinic concerned. Who knows, that medical clinic’s management might just use one of the versions to replace the current notice and perhaps offer its contributor free medical consultation in return.

P.S. If you find other medical-care signboards of this kind, please don’t hesitate to post them in the Forum or e-mail them to me. You may offer improved versions, or we can ask other Forum members to suggest a better wording for them.

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Proposed rewrite of inscrutable English of magazine’s foreword

New Forum member Menie made the following posting that offers a suggested rewrite of the seriously flawed English of a college magazine’s foreword that was sent to me last August 8, 2010 by Prof. R. Muthukumar of the Department of Business Administration of NMSSVN College in Nagamalai, Madurai, India:

I see that no one has taken up the challenge of translating this to something which can be understood at first reading, so I will give it a try. Step one is a literal translation: substituting the weird words and phrases with understandable words or phrases, but retaining the general style of the sentences.

Dear Readers,

We are proud to say that this College Annual Magazine is a product of the hard work of qualified people.

It is an announcement that our college has a collection of versatile people who have clear ideas about prevalent issues in society. We believe that our readers will be invigorated after reading these articles, which deal closely with sensitive and unique ideas.

The Editorial Board thanks the members for their meritorious and sincere effort in bringing this Magazine out. We also thank Management for their encouragement and cooperation toward the successful completion of this annual book.  

Once again we bow our heads in recognition of Management’s untiring effort to uplift the condition of the college staff and to continue the progress of our college.

We also thank M/s Edison Printers for their good and prompt service.

Having understood what they are trying to say, we can then attempt to rewrite it in a better style, but still retaining all of the ideas expressed above.

Dear Readers,

We are proud to present to you this College Annual Magazine.  

This is a collection of views on prevalent issues in our society, which are examined with sensitive and unique perspectives. We hope that you will find these articles interesting and that these will move you to take further action.

We wish to thank the contributors and magazine staff for their hard work and dedication.

We also thank the school administration for their encouragement and support toward the successful completion of this magazine. We take this opportunity to acknowledge their untiring effort toward the betterment of the college staff and the continuing progress of our school.

Lastly, we thank M/s Edison Printers for their excellent work.

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“Sick books” issue goes off the deep end, then bubbles up again

There was this story in two of the broadsheets last November 9 that Education Secretary Armin Luistro visited “sick books” crusader Antonio Calipjo Go recently and encouraged him to resume his terminated crusade. This was after Mr. Go announced a few days back that he was shelving his one-man advocacy for good, having been intensely pilloried instead of being thanked for it by the publishers, authors, and editors of the targeted textbooks.

Well, what a coincidence! Just two days before that, a new member of Jose Carillo’s English Forum—his username is pedestrian—asked me to explain what those textbook errors were all about in the first place. He was belatedly responding to a June 6, 2009 editorial of The Manila Times that commented on the several dozens of questionable English passages that Mr. Go had found in six locally produced English-language textbooks. Pedestrian was saying that since there was no explanation for those errors, it’s difficult for him to learn from them.

I told pedestrian that then and now, I just didn’t have the time to critique all those problematic textbook passages, but I consented to doing the following four samplers just to give him some idea of what the problem is all about:

(1) “The rain and storm are needed to snuff out the heat in the air.” There’s nothing wrong with the grammar of that sentence, but its sophomoric use of the phrasal verb “snuff out” makes it sound infantile. To “snuff out” is much too strong and emotional a verb phrase in that statement, for it means “to extinguish (as in smothering the flame of a candle), make extinct, kill, or execute.” And to say that the rain and storm are “needed” to do that snuffing out action on heat is unwarranted personification, or inappropriately representing rain and storm as humans. Here’s a more objective, level-headed way of wording that sentence: “The rain and storm remove heat from the air.”

(2) “Just remember this acronym—DOCSiShQACNMN to make it easy for you to remember the order of adjectives in a series.” It should be obvious even to a preschooler that this is ridiculous advice—to use a tangled, tongue-twisting, terribly-hard-to-recall acronym as a mnemonic for remembering the order of adjectives in a series. We normally expect to get such advice from simpletons, not educators or textbook writers.

(3) “Robert Louis Stevenson wrote the novels ‘The Treasure Island’ and ‘The Kidnapper.’” This factually erroneous sentence is the result not only of the ignorance and laziness of the textbook writer but also the carelessness and cluelessness of the textbook editors. The correct titles of those very popular novels are Treasure Island—without the article “The”—and Kidnapped—not “The Kidnapper.” It’s really unthinkable for the author of that book not to know this, and this kind of factual error makes that textbook statement sound almost like a sick joke.

(4) “My sister is old. She can accompany me to the outing.” This statement is semantically faulty and almost laughable. It gives the idea that old age is a prerequisite for someone to qualify as a companion to an outing. This time, the problem is both semantic and grammatical. What the writer obviously wanted to say is, “My sister is old enough. She can accompany me to the outing.” The adjective “enough” would have been enough to make that statement logical, but the textbook writer evidently didn’t have enough semantic sensitivity to make that distinction.

I told pedestrian in closing that I wish someone would pick up after me and find time to dissect the remaining problematic textbook passages, which I daresay won’t be remedied by simply providing supplemental notes to the flawed textbooks, as had been done by the DepEd. Those textbooks should be withdrawn from circulation as soon as practicable, then replaced with textbooks written by semantically competent authors.

Read The Manila Times editorial on the textbooks with erroneous English!

Read “Luistro backs Go crusade” in the Philippine Daily Inquirer now!

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And we thought we’d find typos only in newspapers and books!

Mispelled Road Sign

I don’t think we can blame this one on the influence of too much short-cut texting on the mobile phone.

What do you think?

Here’s the story from Yahoo!

Cringe-inducing typo outside N.C. school
By Brett Michael Dykes

Well, here's something to make your old English teacher gasp in horror: A road contractor hired to paint the word “school” on a freshly paved stretch of road near Southern Guilford High School in North Carolina rendered the traffic area in question a “school” zone.

But fear not for the (surely confused) youth of Greensboro! The contractor, a company called Traffic Markings, has already corrected the error.  Here's visual evidence, courtesy of local TV station WXII.

WXII had some fun with the typo on the air too:

This isn’t the first such mishap on record. Last year, for instance, a Miami-area road crew offered the variant spelling of “scohol,” while in 2007, a team in Kalamazoo, Mich., managed the same “h” and “c” reversal.

Chalk it all up to a bad day’s wrok.

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Reporting English misuse:

You can report the English misuse by e-mailing a verbatim transcription or an image in GIF or JPEG format to When doing so, please be mindful of the laws against libel and oral defamation. Our interest is not to humiliate English-language offenders but to help them rectify the error, so there’s no need to identify them in your messages. Just indicate the city, district, street, and general location where you saw or found the particular English misuse to make it easier for those concerned to be alerted about it.

We will also need your full name, residence, e-mail address, and telephone number so we can confirm with you before the posting is made on this page. Just let us know if you don’t want to be identified in the posting so we can withhold your identity. Please keep in mind that this page will be moderated and will not entertain scurrilous reports nor those sent in by anonymous sources.

That said, you can now get started in doing volunteer police work for the sake of good English! It should be a truly gratifying educational experience and you and other English lovers can have lots of fun besides!

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Page last modified: 11 August, 2013, 5:30 p.m.