With Love, From a Grammar Nerd

May 31st, 2018

Fellow marketers. I write to you today with a request.

On a regular basis, I see and hear minor grammatical mistakes in advertisements everywhere. And while the general population may not notice them, they drive us grammar freaks crazy. So, in an effort to keep my people sane, and to make us all look smarter, here are three things that you can keep in mind when you’re writing your next ad.

Plural vs Possessive

Beware of the pesky apostrophe. He’s very sneaky and will, oftentimes, pop up when he’s not invited, turning names, numbers and acronyms into possessives. For example:

  • “100s of choices” is correct. “100’s of choices” is not.
  • “He was born in the 1990s” is correct. “He was born in the 1990’s” is not.
  • “That belongs to the Millers” is correct. “That belongs to the Miller’s” is not.
  • “I went to two ATMs” is correct. “I went to two ATM’s” is not.

More Than vs Over

You ever heard this one? “We have over 100 items!” Yeah. That’s wrong. It’s “more than.” They have more than 100 items. The term “more than” refers to quantity and numbers, whereas “over” refers to a direction – upwards and across. … Now, while I know it is becoming more acceptable to use “over” in this context, it’s still incorrect. So let’s, AT THE VERY LEAST, use it more sparingly, shall we?

Everyday vs Every day

It’s scary how often I see this in printed pieces. Someone uses “everyday” when it’s supposed to be “every day.” Or vice versa. And I can understand that, while we’re writing, we make these little mistakes almost subconsciously. But this is a big one. So watch out for it. Think about it this way: If you can replace the word with “common” and it makes sense, it’s supposed to be one word. If you can replace it with “all the time,” it’s supposed to be two.

  1. We’re just everyday (common)
  2. We go outside every day (all the time).

There you have it. Three of my pet peeves in advertising. Now please. I beg of you. Help me fix the problem. Do your part. Shun the possessive apostrophe when it has no business being there. Kill the “over” despite the fact that it’s shorter and seems acceptable. And try to do those two things “every day,” not “everyday.”

That is all. Thank you in advance.

Annoying grammar nerd out.