“Say WHAT?!”

by | Jul 3, 2018

As a proofer, I sometimes shake my head in wonder and chuckle at word problems. This headline, for example:

How Much it Costs for a Family to Live in 20 U.S. Cities

“Say what?!”

I thought it was difficult paying our bills, but 20 different places to keep up? The kitchen gadgets alone would kill the York budget!

OK, I know the author meant ‘Living Costs in Twenty U.S. Cities,’ but I’m glad he didn’t write it that way. It gave rise to this delightful post and lets me offer you a little gift today: a smile and a chuckle from a proofreader’s viewpoint.

I asked editors and proofreaders to share their biggest grammar complaints and the strangest things they’ve seen on public signage.

Here’s what they sent me. I hope you enjoy it.

Biggest grammar complaints

  • “I have went…” (Instead of “I have gone…”)
  • Asking, “Where are you at?” (Isn’t Where are you?” enough?)
  • Using ‘ideal‘ instead of ‘idea’ (‘Ideal’ = perfection, not a thought)
  • “They was…” instead of “They were…”
  • Adding ‘and to numbers (It’s ‘one hundred one,’ not ‘…and one.’)
  • Using ‘a‘ incorrectly with ‘h’ words (‘…an honor is correct)


The amphibious one, at the end, is my favorite. 😎
  • Alway’s there when you need us.” (What’s with the apostrophe?)
  • “They won’t even know their learning.” (Or that they’re learning.)
  • “…the highest standards for every detal.” (And detail,’ I bet.)
  • Regisister for the webinar.” (Have you heard of spell check?)
  • “We bye used cars.” (I’ll assume this one’s a clever play on words.)
  • “Customer parking only. Others will be toad.” (The vehicle stays?)

Just Plain Fun

This submission had me LOL. It isn’t a grammar faux pas, but it is a fun observation. Let’s discuss it with the Funk & Wagnalls dictionary folks (I’m not a big Webster fan). Perhaps you’ll get a kick out of it, too:

“I just think the English language should add the word ‘soo,’
similar to the difference between ‘to’ and ‘too.’
Sometimes one ‘o’ just isn’t enough.”

Your Takeaway: Let’s be careful out there and never have these faux pas leave our lips (or our pens, if we’re writing). Oh! If someone starts a petition for adding ‘soo’ to the English language, please point me to it online. I’ll gladly sign that puppy.

Thanks again to the contributors to this post. I couldn’t have done it without you.

Sometimes, it’s nice to have some fun!

Join the Conversation: Do you have a favorite wording faux pas from a sign, an article, or a website? Please share this post and add to the conversation in the comments section below.

New chuckles welcomed!

Sharing is caring!


  1. pauly hart

    I always “bye” used cars.

    • Kathie York


      Yeah, I think that’s a play on words.
      I’ll give ’em that one. Clever.
      Thanks for stopping ‘bye,’ (HA!)


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