“I upped my pledge—up yours” and other unfortunate word choices

Humour is one of the side-benefits of grammatical errors.

I am studying to write an editing exam next weekend, so my brain swirls with misplaced modifiers and parallel sentence structures. When I work on the practice exercises that come with the preparation material, a small part of me yearns to leave the material as is, because sometimes it is hilarious.

Like these samples of faulty subordination from church bulletins:

Don’t let worry kill you off—let the Church help.
————————–
Eight new choir robes are currently needed due to the addition of several new members and to the deterioration of some older ones.
————————–
For those of you who have children and don’t know it, we have a nursery downstairs.

Sometimes there is nothing grammatically wrong with the sentences, but the reader draws unfortunate conclusions due to the ideas presented in each:

Ladies, don’t forget the rummage sale. It’s a chance to get rid of those things not worth keeping around the house. Bring your husbands.
————————–
At the evening service tonight, the sermon topic will be “What Is Hell?” Come early and listen to our choir practice.
————————–
The sermon this morning: “‘Jesus Walks on the Water.” The sermon tonight: “Searching for Jesus.”
————————–
Low Self Esteem Support Group will meet Thursday at 7 p.m.. Please use the back door.
————————–
Weight Watchers will meet at 7 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church. Please use large double door at the side entrance.

Yesterday was Stewardship Sunday at my church. It is a day when the members of the congregation reflect on how they can share their talents to make the world a better place. We didn’t use this slogan though:

The Associate Minister unveiled the church’s new campaign slogan last Sunday: “I Upped My Pledge – Up Yours.”

People like me who write and edit for a living often wake up in a cold sweat in the night when they realize a written piece has a grammatical error or an unfortunate unintended meaning.

If you find any mistakes in my posts, I hope you get a good laugh at least.

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About Arlene Somerton Smith

Writer, laughing thinker, miner of inspirational insights, sports fan, and community volunteer

Posted on November 15, 2011, in good faith, writing and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. We tried to explain to our kids, years ago, that they shouldn’t need to ‘go to the washroom badly’. It would be preferable to ‘go to the washroom quickly’

    An interesting companion read would be “Eats, Shoots and Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation”.

  2. I love funny examples of bad grammar. What a good laugh your post gave me! I also have “Eats, Shoots and Leaves.” I’ve even read sections to my kids. On another note, I am exploring your blog and find it interesting…in my church (Unitarian Universalist), we are also progressive, non-traditional and accepting of all. It’s always nice to find a kindred spirit. 🙂

    • Thanks, Jeannette. It’s nice to (virtually) meet you. When I returned to church after many years of not attending very often, my choice came down to either the United or Unitarian Universalist. My roots are with the United Church and family was there, so that tipped the balance, but I feel very at home in your church for sure. Keep reading!

  3. Love this post- it’s hysterical. Thanks Arlene…hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

  4. It’s an oldie but a goodie! Thanks.

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