5 Minute Grammar Lesson ~ What’s Wrong with this Picture?

Last week I posted a screen shot of a product description I found on Amazon and you all amazed me with your brilliance! You found so many errors and your comments cracked me up. So here’s another one for you!

I took this picture at Walmart – my favorite place to photograph questionable signs.


What funny come-back can you come up with in response to this sign?? I can’t wait to read your replies… :-)


Fullscreen capture 10202012 123916 PM

5 Minute Grammar Lesson ~ Can YOU find the error?

A couple weeks ago I posted a picture of an error I came across when reading my daughter a book in a waiting room. It was a fun post for me, actually, so I’ve been on the prowl for more errors to take pictures of. I found a good one last week when writing a post about the differences between Nutrimills and Wondermills.

Can YOU find the error? This is a screen capture from Amazon.

I’ll give you a hint. The error is somewhere in here:

If no one answers in the comments, I’ll post next week with the explanation. :-) Don’t forget to email me at if YOU find a fun error picture for my 5 Minute Grammar Series!


5 Minute Grammar Lesson ~ Can YOU find the error?!

Last week I picked this book up in a waiting room and read it to my two year old. UGH!!! I can’t believe that someone went the expense to actually PRINT this book!! Clearly, this book company needs to hire a new editor. Can YOU find the error? Are you smarter than the editor of this book??

If you don’t know, read this and learn! And tell ALL of your friends. I’m on a personal mission to eradicate it’s and its errors!! 😉

Got a picture for me? I’d love to feature it on my 5 Minute Grammar Lesson series!! Please email me:


Nowadays? or Now a days? or Now days?

Curious about the proper way to spell NOWADAYS?

There are so many possibilities: NOWADAYS, NOW A DAYS, NOW DAYS. I’m always amused by the mistakes that crop up in my college composition students’ formal papers. One batch of papers will show three different students making an error I never really thought about, and in three different way.

According to Grammar Girl {my go-to source when I am confused}, the proper spelling is NOWADAYS. It looks like it should be wrong, but it isn’t. Trust me. And Grammar Girl. There’s really nothing more to say about it. Either avoid the term altogether, or write NOWADAYS.

For more 5 Minute Grammar Lessons, read here.

Have a great day!



When Do Apostrophes Make Words Plural? ~ 5 Minute Grammar Lesson

So I was in Walmart the other day and saw this sign. It almost made me puke… After I recovered, though, I whipped out my phone and took a picture. I love my iPhone!!

So, the question is, when should you use an apostrophe to make a word plural?! And the answer…



Instead, please use the standard English practice of placing an -S at the end of a word. Or an -ES. Or an -IES. Whatever – just don’t use apostrophes. Apostrophes are reserved for contractions and possession. Never, ever, ever use an apostrophe to make a word plural.

So, what should that sign at Walmart really have said?

We are currently out of bananas. We apologize for the inconvenience {and for being so stupid as to not know how to spell inconvenience, too}.

And that’s your 5 Minute Grammar Lesson. Any questions?

Got a picture for a 5 Minute Grammar Lesson? Please email it to me:



5 Minute Grammar Lesson ~ Ad? or Add?

Not sure whether to use AD or ADD? {I admit…I have to think about this one sometimes.}

But it’s really quite simple. Use ADD if you mean the mathematical operation of addition, like you want to ADD two plus three. Or ADD another blog to your favorite blog list…or ADD another ingredient to your recipe. You need more than one number to ADD together right? So, you need two Ds. 😉 Corny, but whatever works.

AD is an abbreviation for advertisement. That is all.

Until next time, Grammarians. Have a great week. :-)

To read more 5 Minute Grammar Lessons, click here.


5 Minute Grammar Lesson ~ Alot? or A lot?

Wondering whether a lot is one word or two? Think no more.

It’s TWO words! It’s never okay to write alot – simply wrong, wrong, wrong. When in doubt, look for the little red squiggly line under alot {the little line that I miss a lot…} which indicates a problem that needs to be fixed.

Just remember: it’s not alittle or ahuge or asmall or abig. OR ALOT. Separate the two words to be grammatically correct and make your English teacher happy. {And pay attention to little squiggly lines that indicate problems…} 😉

And that’s your 5 Minute Grammar Lesson. Until next time, Grammarians.


5 Minute Grammar Lesson ~ Then? or Than?

They sound similar. They look similar. But they’re not at all alike. Do you know when to use THEN and when to use THAN? The difference is really quite simple.

If you are comparing two things, use THAN.

  • Anna is taller THAN Ben.
  • The big house costs more THAN the little house.
  • Clothes from the Gap cost more THAN clothes from Goodwill.

THEN deals with time, or it shows a sequence.

  • I want you to take a bath and THEN go to bed.
  • First you must eat your peas. THEN you can have dessert.
  • Take a left on First Street, and THEN a right on Pine Avenue.

Got it? :-)

Until next time, Grammarians…



Broke? or Broken?

It’s time for a 5 Minute Grammar lesson! Most of my posts focus on mistakes in writing, but this is a mistake I’ve been hearing a lot lately. I don’t know if I never paid attention to it before, but just lately I’ve heard my kids say it, my husband say it, and perfect strangers too.

For instance, the swing was kaput at the local playground.


Chalk-full? Or Chock-full?

Inspiration for this week’s 5 Minute Grammar Lesson comes from none other than…ME!

I made this mistake on my blog a couple of weeks ago and a friend was kind enough to point it out. Thanks, Chantal!

In a post I wrote about what to eat when the pantry is empty, I made a remark about something being CHALK-FULL. Turns out, chalk has nothing to do with it (whatever IT is). The expression is CHOCK-FULL. If you can’t take it, don’t dish it, right? :-)

I did a little googling and can’t find the origin of the expression CHOCK-FULL, but it’s clear that chalk-full is just wrong.

And there you have it. Even know-it-all, self-proclaimed Grammar Queens make mistakes! 😉

For more 5 Minute Grammar Lessons, read here.


Aloud? or Allowed?

You’d think I’d stop being surprised by the many, many mistakes I come across on blogs, in emails, from my students. But I’m not. I’m continually surprised, dumbfounded, horrored. Sometimes it makes laugh. Sometimes it makes me bang my head. Sometimes it makes me cry. I am almost always embarrassed for the person who made the mistake.

I came across this mistake a couple days ago.

ALOUD means ~


Discreet? or Discrete?

This 5 Minute Grammar lesson is dedicated to my friend, Jessica, who asked me to add it to the list. Honestly, I had to look up these two words, because I didn’t know how to explain the difference. So here goes:

DISCRETE means separate or distinct. When you’re trying to point out differences in particular groups, use DISCRETE. Discrete components, discrete food groups, discrete values.

DISCREET, on the other hand, means prudent, circumspect, sneaky-ish.

So, if you’re trying to ask a person to be careful not to spoil a surprise, use the word DISCREET. A discreet affair, a discreet area for a nursing mother, a discreet internet cafe.

One way to remember the difference is to think about how the T in Discrete separates the two Es, into separate parts. Got it?

And when all else fails, google is really smart! :-)

And that’s your 5 Minute Grammar lesson. Enjoy the weekend. Do you have topic you’d like me to cover? Please share.


Hisself? or Himself?

Tell me you guys all know that HISSELF is another one of those words that’s not really a word, right?

I get HISSELF a lot from my college comp I students and I’m always floored. I didn’t know it even existed until I started teaching college classes.

However, now that I also have young children I can see where it comes from. That doesn’t mean it’s acceptable at all in my house. My children are gently corrected each time they use HISSELF and I will get less gentle in my corrections the older they get if it continues because HISSELF is an awful word. Delete it from your vocabulary if you use it. And for heaven’s sake, don’t include it in a formal paper you write for your English teacher!

And that’s the weekly 5 Minute Grammar Lesson. Enjoy the rest of your weekend!


Suppose to? or Supposed to?

This 5 Minute Grammar Lesson is another example of speech interfering with writing. It sounds like we say suppose to when we speak because we don’t enunciate every letter in all our words.

But…in writing… it’s not ok to leave the D off the end. I was supposed to go to bed early. I was supposed to clean my house today. I was supposed to turn off the lights when I left the room. I was supposed to have done five loads of laundry. I suppose, I was supposed to have had only one glass of wine with dinner. But I was thinking of all the things I was supposed to have done today, and needed a second glass of wine.

It’s never SUPPOSE TO in writing, always SUPPOSED TO.

And that’s the 5 Minute Grammar lesson! Bloggers – you are supposed to check your posts for this mistake! And have a great weekend. :-)


Regardless? or Irregardless?

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but IRREGARDLESS is not a word. I hear a lot of people using it, however. The grammatically correct term is REGARDLESS.

Regardless means “without regard.” It is a negative word.

The pronoun IR- is also negative which means that when you add IR to Regardless, you’re guilty of a double negative like: I don’t want nothing. The fix is quick: simply banish the word IRREGARDLESS from your vocabulary.

It’s true that some dictionaries list IRREGARDLESS, but they also mention it as NONSTANDARD – jargon, a dialect, or regional variation.

If you want to sound educated, don’t use IRREGARDLESS. And that is your 5 Minute Grammar Lesson. :-)

Happy Sunday!

frog parking

Toad or Towed?

I’m sure I’ve never seen anyone accidentally mistake these two words, but I saw this sign at the St. Louis Zoo yesterday and it cracked me up!

This just goes to show how many different word choices there are in the English language! :-)

Just in case you want clarification…a TOAD (noun) is an amphibian. Some interesting facts I learned about toads: females are larger than males. They go through true metamorphosis from tadpole to toad. While they spend the early part of their life in water as tadpoles, they live the remainder of their lives on land.

Toads double in size in the summer and hibernate in groups during the winter to keep warm. Toads hop (frogs jump) and have dry warty skin. But, toads CANNOT give you warts. My kids have spent most of the summer collecting toads in our yard. I never realized the difference between toads and frogs, but if you want to know, just ask. After this summer, I am somewhat of a toad expert. :-)

TOWED – is the past tense of the verb to TOW. TowMater is brought to you courtesy of one of my kids’ favorite movies.

And that’s your 5 Minute Grammar Lesson! :-) More on what we learned in St. Louis about hip dysplasia later. I’m still reeling from the second opinion appointment…


Witch or Which or Sandwich?

Earlier in the week as I was grading my college comp I papers, I noticed a few mistakes with the witch and which. So, in honor of my college students, here’s your 5 Minute Grammar Lesson!

#1. A WITCH is a magical woman. A noun. She might ride a broom and wear a pointy hat. Or, she may have tattoos and like to knit. You never know. Which is why you might not want to judge and brings me to point #2.

#2. WHICH is an adjective or a pronoun. You generally want more information when you use WHICH. WHICH car did you buy? WHICH book did you read? WHICH witch did you see last night?

#3. Of course, just to utterly confuse you, English has a third type of wich – SANDWICH – notice, no t or extra h as found in #1 and #2. But doesn’t that look good? 😉

Unfortunately, these three words are NOT interchangeable. As with so many other things in English, they just have to be memorized. I highly suggest not getting them confused on formal papers for English teachers! :-)

And that’s your 5 Minute Grammar Lesson! Enjoy!!


Who’s or Whose?

I guess the fact that I correct grammar for a part-time living makes some of my friends nervous… 😉 Please don’t think I judge you! I judge my students (because they are supposed to be learning) and the stupid signs I see out and about, but I don’t judge my friends! The truth is, it is so much easier to see other people’s mistakes than to see our own. I swear, we are hardwired to see what we think we’ve written.


Correcting Children’s Grammar

I’m taking a slightly different approach to my weekly 5 Minute Grammar post this week! While adults make lots of silly grammar mistakes that irritate me, I love the mistakes my kids make (within reason)…

The focus of my Master’s degree was on second language acquisition. Part of my learning process was also to think about how we acquire our first language. If we could learn a second language as easily as our first language, we’d be set!

Think about it, we don’t really learn our first language. We absorb it. Inevitably, as children’s young brains