A Punctuation Pot Purée

By Beth Quinn

The Apostrophe Posse has branched out. This week’s edition includes, not only apostrophe catostrophes (I know, I know! It’s on purpose!), but some fabulous, off-the-mark quotation  marks, someone in an apparent comma coma, an interesting spelling error and some terrible confusion about meat vs fish.

Therefore, without further ado …

Those Happy Meal Chimes are Ranging

The top portion of the receipt from McDonald’s in Hancock, N.Y., reads:

WELCOME TO HANCOCK MC DONALD’S Our value meals and happy meals are rang up with the drinks separate, so we can adjust for different drinks”

I know, I know. The BIG question is, what was I doing at a McDonald’s????

– Pam Guess

I’ve been to the Hancock McDonald’s myself, loathe as I am to admit it, and was struck by its apparent shortage of periods to put at the end of sentences. – Beth

Are There no Periods in Vermont, Either?

In the July/August issue of AT Journeys (the magazine of the Appalachian Trail Conference), the cover is a picture of the Rutland County Farmers Market in Vermont. The description of the photo on page 2:

On the Cover: The Rutland County Farmers Market in downtown Rutland, Vermont’s Depot Park is open rain or shine, Saturday’s and Tuesday’s, spring through fall.

I sent an e-mail asking them why the apostrophes, especially since they didn’t call it the Farmers’ Market.

– Joan James

Is it Maneur or Shti?

Several years ago, whenever I approached the intersection of Route 208 and Sarah Wells Trail, I enjoyed my daily chuckle when I saw the Manuer for Sale sign. Unfortunately, the sign was removed some time ago and replaced with a corrected version.

– Helen G. Ullrich

In the Category of Confused About Food

It’s not punctuation but surely worth mentioning. The following invitation appears on the Web site of Australian chef Curtis Stone:

Learn the best way to safely defrost meats like shrimp.

You want to tell them, or should I?

– Carol Montana

“Unnecessary Quotation Marks”

Here are a few awesome examples that recently ran on the Huffington Post Web site.

And then poor Jim Bob had only two fingers and one eye left.

And then poor Jim Bob had only two fingers and one eye left.


Is this meant to keep the atheists happy?

Is this meant to keep the atheists happy?


Hard to imagine, but whatever it means, it seems to apply to one gun only.

Hard to imagine, but whatever it means, it seems to apply to one gun only.

Finally, Some Semi-Good News

A properly placed semicolon was found in, of all places, the New York City subway system. It was nearly hidden on a public service placard exhorting riders not to leave their newspapers behind when they get off the train:

Please put it in a trash can; that’s good news for everyone.

Semicolon sightings are unusual, period, much less those found in exhortations drafted by committees of civil servants, as this one was. In fact, proper semicolon use is such a rarity that, when this one was spotted, the New York Times deemed it worthy of an article. As a bonus, the placard contains a properly used apostrophe as well.

Former Goshen resident Bess Jankowski, who lives in the city, was so taken by the semicolon that she deemed it worth passing on.

“This renews my faith in humanity,” wrote Bess.

– Bess Jankowski

Beth can be reached at beth@ZestofOrange.com


5 Responses to “A Punctuation Pot Purée”

  1. KTface66 Says:

    One of my favorite recent typos (not typo’s) was an e-mail posting on the website of the Warwick Advertiser regarding an article about a feral cat colony in my neighborhood. The writer said that if we were upset with “deer and beers” we should buy guns and go hunting. I’ve never been upset by deer OR beers. The writer also used “your” instead of “you’re,” which is one of my personal pet peeves.

  2. MichaelKaufman Says:

    It occurs to me that what Chester A. Riley actually said was, “What a revoltin’ development this is!”

  3. bess Says:

    Here’s an apostrophe I’ve been trying to make my peace with for years:

    There used to be a better picture of that tiled sign on the web, but I can’t seem to find it anymore. It reads, in full, “Vernon-Jackson Ave’s.”

    Now — and trust me, I’m glad I don’t pass through that station anymore on my commute, because I’ve gotten into some heated debates that didn’t end on the friendliest of terms over it — the question is: for what purpose, exactly, are they using that apostrophe?

    It could be to pluralize “ave,” which would make it incorrect, right? But it could be there to stand in for the missing letters, contraction-style. I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that they at least aren’t referring to something that belongs to Ave.

    I want to believe that the MTA knew what it was doing here, but something tells me it didn’t care.

  4. BethQuinn Says:

    Oh man, I am so sorry you have to look at that Ave’s sign every day. Doesn’t it make you want to bring a sledge hammer to work and have at it?
    I was trying to teach my OCCC class a lesson on apostrophes last night (the operative word here being “trying”), and I explained that I’d started the Mid-Hudson chapter of the Apostrophe Posse. One of my students, who calls himself Hot Rod, found this disturbing.
    “That’s like a gang, right?” he said.
    I told him that was true. We are a gang.
    So he asked, “What are your gang colors?”
    I thought about it for a second and then told him, “White-out.”
    He actually had the good grace to see the humor in that. He’s unwilling to join our gang, however.
    Beth Q

  5. CarrieJacobson Says:

    I belong to a group called “Paying Jobs for Writers,” and this notice came my way a few days ago. I would like to hope that it’s HBO’s way of finding job-seekers with initiative, though I fear it’s somewhat less that that.

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