Sunday, February 20, 2005

Stupid, Stupid Ads!
    — Will Work for Whiteout

“Stupid, Stupid Ads!” dissects ads that try to do something underhanded or just plain stupid.

And less than one in five can use proper grammar, it appears.  (Er, make that “fewer than one in five” — don’t want to get got with my grammar pants down!)

This is from a United Way bus shelter ad out around Christmas 2004, maybe a couple weeks later.

Remedial English Lesson

In this sentence, the subject is “One in five homeless people” and the predicate is “are employed”.  The subject is composed of a pronoun, “One” (standing in for “A homeless person”), and a prepositional phrase, “in five homeless people.”  The plurality of the subject’s noun and the predicate’s verb must match; this sentence is incorrect because “One” is singular while “are” is plural.  (The prepositional phrase is excess gravy.  It modifies and describes the noun/pronoun, but it does not affect the plurality of the subject.  That is controlled solely by the noun or pronoun.)  Ergo, the correct sentence should read “One in five homeless people is employed.”

I might forgive a homeless person who used bad grammar on his sign, but I certainly won’t forgive the United Way for producing a poorly designed ad.  Bad charity, no donation.

Updated on October 10, 2011

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