Welcome to the website woven for wordaholics, logolepts, and verbivores. Carnivores eat meat; herbivores eat plants and vegetables; verbivores devour words. If you are heels over head (as well as head over heels) in love with words, tarry here a while to graze or, perhaps, feast on the English language. Ours is the only language in which you drive in a parkway and park in a driveway and your nose can run and your feet can smell.


I am a proud resident of Scripps Ranch, and one of the men’s clubs in our community is named The Old Pros. The problem is that, more often than not, on T-shirts and other print media, the name of the club appears as “Old Pro’s.” Well, why not? For many, if there’s an s at the end of a word, you might as well insert a squiggle before it. I suspect, though, that, for most readers of this column, “Old Pro’s” squeaks like chalk scraping across the blackboard of their sensibilities. “Old Pros” will do just fine, thank you.

Equally egregious is that on the same shirts, my beloved neighborhood is often listed as “Scripp’s Ranch.” Ack! Another apostrophe catastrophe! Or, simply, a prepostrophe. If E.W. Scripps were alive today, he’d be spinning in his grave!

I’ve played in tennis tournaments at a prestigious San Diego club. Each entrant receives a classy collared shirt that on the front-left reads “Mens’ Invitational” / “Womens’ Invitational.” I pointed out to the tournament director that the possessive nouns should read “Men’s” and “Women’s” because a possessive apostrophe indicates “of” or “for.” The events are held for men and for women, not for “mens” and “womens.” I asked the gentleman how long the atrocity had been displayed on the shirts. “Forever, and no one till now has ever commented about it,” he said.

Good grammar and proper punctuation confer advantages in most walks of life,. including real estate. It’s not just English teachers who notice typos in luxury-home listings. Mechanical pratfalls can slow sales and drag down prices.

An analysis of 106,850 luxury listings in 52 metro areas shows that descriptions written in full sentences without grammar, spelling or punctuation errors sell three days faster and are 10 percent more likely to sell for more than their list price than listings overall. On the flip side, listings waving mechanical red flags log the most median days on the market before selling and more frequently attract bids under list price.

Real estate agents, better take out your red pens!

Grammar rules in love, too. If you need an additional incentive to master English usage, read this letter to the editor by a woman who had been trolling eHarmony:

“I am happy to know that I’m not the only middle-aged neurotic who will dismiss a potential date immediately upon encountering a misuse of your/you’re, their/there, to/two/too, etc. Good grammar and spelling are aphrodisiacs. That likely explains why I allowed myself to be seduced a few years back by a professor of journalism: Ah, how his sentences melted me from the inside out.”

This is why the front of a woman’s T-shirt reads: “You Had Me at Proper Spelling & Grammar.”

Shoddy usage can cost you a job. Consider this statement from a law firm recruiter: “I recently decided not to interview a Georgetown Law student for a law clerk position. His writing sample, which he actually spelled “wring sample” in his cover email, was not up to our standards. Of course the email error was just a typo, but it doesn’t make a very good impression about how interested someone is in a job when their cover email is that sloppy. There was only one glaring typo in the five-or-so page writing sample, but again, this is a writing sample. Am I wrong to think it should be pristine? The writing sample was otherwise good enough that we probably would have gone ahead with an interview, but we really want to only bring in clerks who need to be edited for substance, not grammar, typos, etc.

“Now, you might think only a Grinch would eliminate someone for one or two errors. But even sweet Cindy Lou Who will tell you that if simple mistakes don’t exclude a candidate, they certainly add a little tarnish to what could have otherwise been a perfect application. And when the competition is stiff, tarnish matters.

“Sigh. If I had a dime for every time a candidate eliminated himself from the running due to an easily preventable spelling error, I would have to buy my wine in 1.5 liter bottles.”

What’s especially sad about these fatal typos and spellos is that most computers are equipped with spell-check programs. That orthographic sentinel stands ready to serve you. Use it! Those squiggly red lines that show up beneath the words on your screen may not always be right, but most of the time they scream that your immortal prose needs fixing. Fix it!