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Posted: October 5, 2011 12:00 a.m.

Making less/fewer mistakes

My sister called me the other day. You remember her. She is the one who wrote the orange juice company about less calories. She had been watching television and saw an advertisement for a car. I am paraphrasing, but the car had more power, more electronics and less doors.

My sister immediately wrote them to tell them it should be fewer doors. She figured that since the orange juice company sent her a coupon for free orange juice, she now would get a coupon for a free car.

For the record less is used for quantity. I got less applause than Mick Jagger. While fewer is used for countable things. The car (which only had two doors) has fewer doors than the previous model (which had four).

Now my sister and I are wondering how much money the people who wrote and produced this commercial make. We also wonder how much education those people have.
We bet they don't have as much education as a teacher, are not required to take classes to renew their certificates to write ads and certainly make more money than teachers do. And I am sure they make a lot more money than I receive to write this editorial.

Here are some other things I often see in print. See if you can find the mistakes.

1. She bought the most unique dress, covered with feathers and colored egg shells.
2. I would like to have some good barbeque for dinner.
3. Mrs. Myopia Twiddlefoot was preceded in death by her late husband Howard Twiddlefoot.
4. Not only was she a stunning dancing partner but also a good fortune teller.
5. Harriett VonStudebaker lives in a stunning pink house just off of the main street in downtown Stubenville.
6. I like that pink and purple dress so much that I am going to purchase it irregardless of its price.
7. The poor young man pled guilty to stealing a loaf of bread for his family.

Unique means the only one. It can't be compared. The thing is either unique or it is not. So she bought a unique dress is enough.

Despite what restaurants do to the word, the correct spelling in barbecue.

If poor Mrs. Twiddlefoot was preceded in death by her husband, telling us that he is the late is redundant. You are saying the same thing twice.

This sentence might be a little tricky for the grammatically challenged. Not only and but also are called correlative conjunctions. All that means is that grammatically what follows the not only has to follow the but also. You can correct the sentence two ways. Not only was she a stunning dancing partner but also she was a good fortune teller. Or... She was not only a stunning dancing partner but also a good fortune teller.

The house is off Main Street. The of is not needed.

There is no such word as irregardless. The word is regardless.

The young man pleaded, not pled.

Barbara Morgan used the word principal in her column last week, referring to three men who were involved in the naming of Mansfield. You have always been told that a principal of a school is your pal and everything else is principle. Well, I had to go to my books and look that one up. She was right. As a noun the principal is the top guy.

So don't despair. Get a good grammar book or research your grammatical problems on the internet. We never get too old to learn. I had to look that up and I'm not telling you how old I am.

Oh, and my sister got a letter from the car company thanking her for her interest but no coupon for a car.


Paula Travis is a Newton County resident and retired schoolteacher. She can be reached at ptravis@covnews.com.

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