Tag Archives: signs

What a difference a hyphen makes

I was passing by a funeral home today when I noticed a sign in the window that said:

“No cost pre-planning available.”

I read this to mean that cost pre-planning was not available. (This is, after all, what the sign says.) I thought this was an odd thing to put in the front window, since people probably want to have the ability to pre-plan the cost of their funeral.

Of course, after looking at it for another moment, I realized what they meant was:

“No-cost pre-planning available.”

Ah, yes. That one little hyphen would make it a much less confusing sign.

More Signs on Trial

I’ve posted before about the terrible grammar, spelling, and punctuation I’ve seen on signs. The problem does not seem to be going away.

Exhibit 1: The bizarrely specific
On the door of a fast-food joint, a sign read:

“No live animals allowed”

I’m not sure why they felt the need to specify that only “live” animals are banned. Perhaps dead ones are okay?

Exhibit 2: The  wrong conjunction
My father spotted this on the garage door of his condo complex:

“Please ensure the door is closed when you enter”

If the authors of this sign have figured out a way to walk (or drive) through closed doors, the sign makes sense — and they should be marketing their discovery! I suspect, however, that they want residents to make sure they door is closed after they enter.

Exhibit 3: Just plain bad English
My boyfriend caught this one at our local drug store, next to a bottle of hand sanitizer:

“For customers use. It is recommended to sanitize your hands.”

This has three  problems. One: a pretty nasty use of passive voice (“it is recommended”). Two: even if passive voice was appropriate here, it would still be wrong. The correct passive construction would be “it is recommended that you sanitize your hands” (rather than “to”). Three: “For customers use.” That should be “For customers’ use.” But why use three words when one will do? This sign should be rewritten as:

“Customers: Please sanitize your hands” or “Customers: Management recommends that you sanitize your hands”

Have you seen a particularly awful sign? Post your thoughts about it in the comments.