Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year's Eve (with an Apostrophe)!

Local newspapers and magazines are filled with ads for New Year's Eve events at bars and clubs. About half of them leave out the apostrophe. Here's an example of an incorrectly punctuated ad:

My attempt to rip it out of the paper was also a fail. Or maybe I was just angry about the bad punctuation. Here's an ad from the flip side of the same page:

When it comes to New Year's Eve, the possibilities are endless, but there's only one right way to punctuate this holiday.

See you next year!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

All I Want for Christmas Is Correct Punctuation

My friend Tiff, one of Apostrophe Catastrophes' best contributors, snapped this photo while she was snowboarding at Sunday River:

At least they've got 361 days to fix the sign before the Santas come again next year.

Thanks, Tiff!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Punctuation Police, Arrest This Man

According to a story in the Boston Globe, a Massachusetts man was recently arrested for stealing money that donors thought was going to military families. Paul K. Guilmain Jr. posed as National Guard member at a Stop & Shop in Woburn and made off with about $150. Even worse than the fraud, Guilmain held a sign that said, "MILITARY FAMILY'S FOR THE HOLIDAYS."

Stupid, stupid criminals....

Thanks to my friends Tori and Dave for alerting me to this egregious crime.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Chinese Food on Xmas

Merry Christmas to everyone out there in the blogosphere! For those of you who celebrate the birth of Christ, you'll probably be chowing down on some ham or fowl in a few hours. Non-Christians, on the other hand, traditionally eat Chinese food on Christmas. And The Christmas Story tells us that Chinese food is a good back-up plan if your turkey gets eaten by dogs.

In the spirit of the season, Brent uploaded this photo to the Apostrophe Catastrophes facebook group:

It's acceptable to use a hyphen between the "x" and "mas," but an apostrophe is inappropriate because the word isn't a contraction. "Chris'mas" would be OK because the apostrophe is in place of a "t."

Anyway, regardless of your religion or food preferences, I hope you have a wonderful, correctly punctuated holiday!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

I Hate Fruitcake

I went scrounging for food in my office kitchen and discovered something that may or may not be real fruitcake.

I know I don't like real fruitcake, but these quotation marks indicate that this could be the fake kind. [I take a bite.] Nope, it appears to be real. I can't even swallow a small bite of this stuff. Ugh.

OK, what else is in here? Ooh, leftover goat cheese and crackers from our office party! Now you're talking!

Merry Chrismahanukwanzakah, readers! May your holidays be delicious and fruitcake-free.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

No Wonder He's Starving!

The economy is bad, and jobs are scarce. So, if you post an ad on craiglist looking for work, you should probably have someone proofread it for you first. This ad has more mistakes than I can count. I'm not in the math industry, after all!

I blurred out the poor guy's phone number so he doesn't have a bunch of horrified Apostrophe Catastrophes readers calling him.

Thanks to Chris for sending this one in!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Need to Do Some Last-Minute Holiday Shopping? Choose the Store that Uses Proper Punctuation

Marshalls (no apostrophe) and T.J. Maxx are essentially the same. In fact, they are even owned by the same company, TJX. So, where should you go to score brand-name merchandise at discount prices? Let's compare these two ads from today's Boston Metro.

Marshalls has boots for $29, but the ad uses the dreaded mens. In fact, they neglect to use apostrophes anywhere in this ad. Let's check out what T.J. Maxx has to say.

T.J. Maxx correctly punctuates "ladies' boots" and "men's outerwear," so it is the clear winner. As an added bonus, ladies' boots $5 cheaper at T.J. Maxx. Time for a shopping spree!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Maybe the Writer Was Distracted By Faith Hill's Hot Bod

Seeing Faith Hill in a bikini was apparently so shocking to this writer that he/she forgot to include any punctuation (or a space) in the third line of this blurb:

An em-dash would have been appropriate before "it's." Get it together, MSN.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Apostrophe After a Close Parenthesis?

My friend Dan was baffled by the unusual placement of an apostrophe after a parenthesis in this music review:

See the second-to-last line in the screenshot above. The writer should have rewritten that sentence to avoid the bizarre-looking construction. But is it wrong? Let's discuss in the comment section.

Thanks, Dan!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Get This Olde-Fashioned Catastrophe at the Faire's Shoppe

My roommate Molly brought home a souvenir glass from King Richard's Faire, and we noticed that it was missing an apostrophe.

The words are written vertically, but they could have made an effort to show possession somehow.

Monday, December 15, 2008

TiVo Can Be Stupid

Jessica writes, "My TiVo is smart enough to know what I might be interested in watching, but it clearly is not smart enough to know the difference between possessive and plural." See the it's/its error on the fourth line of the screenshot below.

Thanks, Jessica!

In other technology news, I registered There's no need to update your subscriptions or bookmarks since the blogspot address still works, but I just thought you'd like to know.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Apostrophe Catastrophe in the New York Times

Alert reader Tom sent me a link to this article in the New York Times, which contains an apostrophe catastrophe. Check out the third paragraph in the screenshot below.

I'm not sure if the writer meant "Bush's guest list" or "the Bushes' guest list," but "Bushes guest list" (without an apostrophe) is certainly wrong.

Thanks, Tom!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Making the Same Mistake Twice

As my friend Merry pointed out here, Charlie's Kitchen is missing an apostrophe in its sign. A few months ago, they opened a beer garden that features the same mistake.

I would praise them for being consistent, but they have a neon sign in the window that does contain an apostrophe.

Thanks again, Merry!

Giving My Fake Address

The address of this building may or may not be 85 Sutherland.

Thanks to my brother, Charlie, for sending in this bizarre example of unnecessary quotation marks.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Maybe Jared Lost His Appetite from Seeing this Sign at Subway

My cousin Joe sent in an apostrophe catastrophe that many readers considered the worst ever. Well, folks, he has done it again. Check out this sign that Joe saw outside of the Subway in Hamden, CT:

He said he was going to go in and ask for a bag of chip's. Thanks, Joe!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Republican Apostrophe Catastrophe in Georgia

After Senator Chambliss won the runoff election in Georgia, RNC Chairman Mike Duncan wrote an article on that contained an apostrophe catastrophe.

Michelle saw Keith Olbermann point out the error on MSNBC and e-mailed me to tell me about it. Thanks, Michelle!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Bryan Adams Tries to Be Dirty, but the Proof Is in the Apostrophe

What is "The Summer of '69" really about? Nearly 25 years after the song's debut on the pop charts, Bryan Adams is now claiming that the song isn't about the year 1969 at all. Oh, really, Bryan? Well, then why did you include an apostrophe in the song's title?

Check out this posting for more thoughts on this scandalous topic, including something else that's definitely dirty about the album cover.

I watched a lot of MTV back in the mid-'80s, and I think I'm retroactively traumatized.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

JumboTron Apostrophe Catastrophe

I know it can be difficult to use proper punctuation in text messages, but if you know that your message will be seen by 20,000 people, it's probably worth making a little extra effort.

Thanks to Smoochiefrog for sending in this catastrophe from a Wizards game.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

A 78-Year-Old Catastrophe

Adam of Universal Hub noticed an old sign in Dedham, Massachusetts, that includes the phrase "in early year's."

The spacing on this sign also seems a bit off, and the first part isn't really a sentence, yet it has a period at the end.

See Adam's original posting on about this poorly punctuated sign here.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Boston Garden Womens and Mens Rooms

Celtics games rock. Punctuation errors suck.

Since the last time I was there (around two weeks ago), the TD Bank North Garden put up new signs that say "Womens Entrance," "Mens Entrance," Womens Exit," and "Mens Exit." This new signage brings back fond memories of the time my friend Amy and I went into the men's room during a Destiny's Child concert, but the lack of apostrophes is terrible!

These punctuation errors upset me almost as much as the fact that they don't play Gino as a victory cigar anymore. At least the Celtics continued their domination of the Eastern Conference last night. Woo! But seriously, TD Bank North Garden, put up some apostrophes in those bathroom signs, and bring back Gino! We want Gino!

Update: They played Gino at the game on December 19! Thank you for listening to me, Boston Celtics.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Phishing Scam Catastrophe

Sometimes phishing scam e-mails look pretty convincing, but I don't think very many people will be fooled when they get an e-mail from Bnak of America.

See the "from" field in the above e-mail. Stupid criminals...

Oh, and since this blog is supposed to be about bad punctuation, I'd also like to point out the grammatically incorrect and poorly punctuated sidebar, which says, "If you ignore this message your account has definitely blocked" (no period at the end).

Saturday, November 29, 2008

I Need Some 222 After Reading This Sign

In Canada, 222 is slang for over-the-counter Tylenol with codeine. I think I need some after reading this sign, spotted in Stevenson, WA, by Amanda.

We've got apostrophe catastrophes, misspellings, and a missing comma (or semicolon) after "Wednesday." How many mistakes can they fit in one sign?

Thanks, Amanda!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Unfinished Quotes

Looks like this van, seen in New York City, forgot to finish its slogan.

Prince Charles Angry About Bad Grammar and Punctuation in the U.K.

I have a new ally in the royal family. Read about it here.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Leaving Its Legacy on Bad Punctuation

Carol, a member of the Apostrophe Catastrophes facebook group, alerted me to some bad punctuation on Check out their its/it's confusion in the screenshot below:

Oh, and it turns out that Carol was the one who sent me the Head's Up e-card. Thanks for sending me both of these apostrophe catastrophes, Carol!

Also, I'd like to wish all of you out there in the blogosphere a very happy Thanksgiving. Cheers!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Recycling Apostrophes

Greg found this horribly punctuated sign next to a recycling bin in his office:

He works for a Fortune 20 company, so you'd think there would be someone in his office who could write! The mark after electronics doesn't even match the other apostrophes; it's a foot mark (or "dumb apostrophe").

Thanks, Greg!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Test Your Punctuation Skills

Today's apostrophe catastrophe comes to us from James in California. He saw this poorly punctuated sign when he went camping last spring:

Besides the obvious mistake (knive's), I think it's funny that this sign has the word "jerky" thrown in there randomly. Before you carve something in wood, it's probably a good idea to plan a little better.

James is such a dedicated punctuation vigilante that he created an online apostrophe quiz! Test your skills at The Writing Kit. Click on "Apostrophe Tutorial" on the left side of the page.

Thanks, James! You are an apostrophe hero!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Mens, Mens, Mens, Mens, Mens

Dear loyal blog readers,
If there's one thing you should have learned from reading Apostrophe Catastrophes it's that mens is not a word. The owners of Cattlemens, a chain of steak houses in Northern California, clearly haven't been paying attention.

Mary from Santa Rosa, who sent me this photo, says she thinks the restaurant wants to make it very clear that there's more than one cattleman.

"I can't look at it without thinking of the 'Men on Football' sketch from In Living Color that was done for the Super Bowl," she writes. "You know, the one in which Blaine Edwards and Antoine Merriweather are talking about the 'big, sweaty mens with steam coming out they nostrils like bulls!'?"

Stick around this blog and you'll see plenty of hot mens.

Thanks, Mary!

Update: With so much talk about mens, Mary forgot to give credit to her boyfriend, Steve, for taking this photo. "I feel like Hilary Swank at the Oscars," she says. Thanks, Steve!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Head Is Up!

Someecards is hilarious, but I found a card that contains a catastrophe!

Or, actually, I don't think I found this one myself. I think my co-worker Amy spotted it, but I'm not sure. In any case, I think that this card would be appropriate for the occasion.

Thanks, Amy... I think...

Update: I take it back. Carol from the Apostrophe Catastrophes facebook group sent this one in. Thanks, Carol!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Cruisin' for Catastrophes

Katie sent me two photos of catastrophes that she found on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship. Anyone for some rock climbing?

For the second catastrophe, the ship's in-room shopping catalog confuses "then" and "than."

Being trapped on a ship filled with grammatical errors must have been terrifying. I'm glad that Katie survived and was able to share them with us.

Thanks, Katie!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Question Mark Catastrophe #1

It appears that apostrophes aren't the only form of punctuation that grocery stores screw up. Here's an odd choice for the end of this friendly reminder:

How noncommittal of them. Maybe it was written by one of those uptalkers who makes everything sound like a question.

Thanks to Carrie for sending in our first question mark catastrophe!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Missing the Forest for the Tree's

Remember Professional Sign's & Lettering? Vicki, who found that one, saw this one on the same day:

Professional Sign's & Lettering went out of business, but as far as we know, Mr. See is still driving around the Seattle area.

Thanks, Vicki!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Who Is Side Are You On?

Apparently, the San Jose Sharks had a preseason scrimmage called the teal and white game at which they gave out free t-shirts. I love free t-shirts, but this one was ruined by an apostrophe catastrophe on the back!

As readers of this blog know, it should be Whose Side Are You On?

Thanks to Craig for uploading this to AC's facebook group.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

You Can Pick Your Friends, but You Can't Pick Your Kiwi's Nose

Here's one that Melissa posted to the Apostrophe Catastrophes facebook group:

"I pick Kiwi's what?" Melissa asks. "Her nose? Eww."

Thanks, Melissa!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

We Couldn't Have Said It Worse

Domicile Furniture, which is a pretty funny name in and of itself, ran a full-page ad in the Chicago Tribune that featured "two wonderfully different types of errors," Winona writes. In the first photo, they add apostrophes to words that are already possessive.

Oh, and if we want to be really picky, that hyphen should be an en-dash. They also don't seem to understand the phrase couldn't have.

And, finally, cutting edge should have a hyphen. Thanks, Winona!

Friend's in Low Places

I accidentally crashed a fundraiser for the Somerville High School basketball team and found this flyer lying on a table:

It's a little blurry (I was drinking margaritas!), but you can definitely tell that there's an apostrophe catastrophe at the top of the sheet. I think I'll donate money to the English department instead.

Monday, November 10, 2008

A Punctuation Error on My Own Site

A reader named Brian noticed that one of the ads on this site contained a punctuation error. There should be a period at the end of this sentence about used Hondas. See the right side of this screenshot:

Posting a screenshot of my own blog feels so postmodern. It also reminds me of how Stephen Colbert has a portrait of himself standing in front of a portrait of himself standing in front of a portrait of himself. I want one of those for my apartment, by the way.

Thanks, Brian!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Pimp My Punctuation

My former roommate Molly sent me this photo from an auto-body place in Elizabeth, NJ:

There's nothing like an errant (and backwards!) apostrophe to add even more class to a place where you can get your windows tinted.

Thanks, Molly!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Same Place, Different Catastrophe

A couple of months ago, I posted an apostrophe catastrophe from a tourist information kiosk in Boston. I walked by there again this weekend and noticed a new sign with another punctuation error. Check out the blue section of this sign:

Stop making Boston look bad!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Too Many Republican's and Other Problems

This blog's best contributor, my friend Merry, sent a screenshot of the Pez web site that's littered with errors. This pains her because she's a big fan of Pez dispensers. How many apostrophe catastrophes and other mistakes can you find?

Thanks, Merry!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Why Do You <3 Bad Punctuation?

This photo has been making the rounds on the Internet, but I thought it was worth posting anyway. I received it from a reader named Doc. For those of you who haven't seen the Why Do You <3 the Devil sign, be prepared. This may be the catastrophe to end all catastrophes.

The sign-maker (I believe it's from New Orleans) is preaching fire and brimstone. He needs to repent and believe in punctuation. Of all the people he hates, the only one he didn't punctuate with an unnecessary apostrophe is druggies. Also, what is high fullutent? However, I do share his dislike for freeloader's and wifebeater's.

Lord, have mercy!


My friend Carolyn took a photo of this apostrophe catastrophe on her TV:

She writes, "In Chicago, 'premier' apparently means 'the one that does not understand basic grammar.'"

Thank goodness for DVR, and thanks to Carolyn for sending this!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

I Dropped My Basket of Groceries When I Saw This

This sign was posted twice in the meat section of my local supermarket:

Besides the apostrophe catastrophe, I was disturbed by the phrase "beef product." Is it really beef? It makes me think of the fake butter that a lot of movie theaters use on their popcorn.

Friday, October 31, 2008

I Should Dress as Lynne Truss for Halloween!

Despite the title, this posting has nothing to do with Halloween. Instead, it's about another badly punctuated t-shirt from CafePress. Alison, who has a blog on sent me a link to this shirt:

Alison writes, "I'm assuming that it's not an ENGLISH teacher who coined that slogan/created that design, but...? You never know!"

I certainly hope not. Thanks, Alison!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Not Actually Very Honorable

Turi snapped this photo at the University of Nevada, Reno, during the Race for the Cure breast cancer walk/run:

"I can see why no one wanted to stand by the sign," Turi writes.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Catastrophe News Network

Another day, another apostrophe catastrophe from my friend Merry. This time it's from

If you look closely at the middle of this screenshot (click to enlarge it), you'll see that the writer added an 's to the end of Obama. "Obama's slams McCain..." doesn't make much sense.

Thanks again, Merry! Check out her other submissions here.

Greek Cheese's Revenge

Jan from New Hampshire has seen this badly punctuated sign at two different branches of the same supermarket chain, so they must be coming from the corporate headquarters.

She writes, "This particular notice, however, attracted a fellow apostrophe
hunter, and I thought it was a nice touch." Click on the photo to enlarge it.

You can see Jan's other grocers' apostrophe catastrophes over at Apostrophe Abuse.

Thanks, Jan!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Pertaining to Upcoming Events

Remember the e-mail I received that said "your invited" to a Halloween party? I've gotten it about five more times since then, and it annoys me every time. Unfortunately, that's not the only Halloween your/you're confusion out there. When I was buying some costume accessories online, I got the following message:

Also, there should be a period at the end of that sentence. These guys should switch their your/you're with Mos Def's. In this political video, he declares, "Your an American!"

Thanks to my friend Rich for sending the Mos Def video. It's most definitely a catastrophe. (Sorry)