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Companies should make ‘less’ grammar mistakes

Grammar definition in dictionary

In a restaurant the first bite is with the eye. Well, I think that applies to other things as well. I am genuinely put off brands that use poor grammar in their adverts – but am I just being petty?

On my way into work earlier this week I spotted an advert that made me stop in my tracks. Virgin Active is proudly boasting, in a poster campaign all over tube stations, that their gyms have ‘more weights’ for ‘less pounds’.

How many pounds should a gym membership cost? Not being a gym-goer, I haven’t the foggiest idea. But being an irritating pedant, I know it’s definitely not ‘less’ than anything. It’s fewer.

Let’s have fewer mistakes

A few colleagues laughed at me in the office because I came in and had a rant about the ad. Some said it wasn’t important, others suggested it was a deliberate mistake. Which? Conversation’s Patrick thought it might be an issue of tone – they wanted to seem casual, so chose words that their audience might use in conversation.

If you’d like to see the ad, Twitter user @charlesarthur kindly tweeted a picture.

So was it a genuine mistake, or did they deliberately choose to use incorrect grammar because they thought it made a better ad? I asked Virgin Active on Twitter but I didn’t get a reply. Fair enough – it’s a pretty pedantic point.

Would bad grammar stop you buying?

Personally, I think good grammar is important if you want to show people that you’re a trusted brand. After all, I wouldn’t hire someone whose CV was littered with spelling and grammar mistakes, so why would I buy into a service that appears to be so slapdash as to not proofread its work?

I might be over exaggerating a tad. If something was a genuine, out-and-out bargain I probably wouldn’t refuse to buy it on the basis of my grammatical principles. But I don’t think it does a brand’s reputation any good to plaster their name right next to a grammatical error.

A while ago Patrick discussed poor spelling and grammar on websites. That’s something that also irritates me, but I don’t think it’s as serious. On a website you’re producing a huge amount of copy, and no matter how carefully you check it, mistakes are bound to slip through. What’s more, they can be easily and quickly corrected when you spot them.

But on a national advertising campaign which requires you to print up hundreds of posters, the least I’d expect is for companies to pay attention to their grammar. That way perhaps they’d make fewer mistakes. So what say you – am I being ridiculous? Or would bad grammar lead you to think less of a company too?

Is 'bored of' ever acceptable?

No - it should always be written 'bored with' (59%, 72 Votes)

Yes - 'bored of' is an acceptable use of English (25%, 31 Votes)

Maybe - it depends on the context (16%, 20 Votes)

Total Voters: 124

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We badly need a ‘groan’ emoticon. Or should that be we sadly need…


How about this one, Ian: 😒

Nice 🙂

Interesting. If I copy/paste Andrew’s emoticon it appears different: 😒

Edit: When the comment was published, the emoticon was identical. 👍🏽

Wave, emojis can look hilariously different on other devices. An emoji you send from an Android phone could look very different when it arrives on your friend’s Apple phone. See: http://mentalfloss.com/uk/trivia/35560/9-emojis-that-look-completely-different-on-other-phones

To get back on topic – what’s the origin of the word ’emoji’? And is it different to the word ’emoticon’?

It’s originally Japanese. Means ‘picture’.

Thanks Patrick. I was aware of minor differences but the examples you provide are quite extreme. Anyway, 🙁 and 🙂 seem safe, and I hope we use more 🙂

With around 5% of the population being dyslexic and a higher percentage showing symptoms of dyslexia, it is inevitable that there will be a problem with email and other correspondence from companies. It is disappointing that websites are sometimes poor, though some companies either proof read what they publish or the pages are compiled by those who are good at spotting and correcting errors. Some of the errors are clearly due to carelessness.

This morning I received an email of a couple of forthcoming workshops that will be run by the Environment Agency: “As the workshops are designed to be complimentary ….” 🙁 On the other hand, the relevant official report is very well written.