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.
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.