July 22, 2008

Grammar matters July 22

Today's blooper appears on a webpage from Baron Bob's catalogue.

If you've been looking for a Casanova action figure, this is your lucky day. The figure, usually $8.95, is marked down to the low, low price of $1.95.

What's to complain about? Nothing, if all you do is look at the picture. But if you read the copy, you'll trip over the first sentence: "Casanova was just you're regular Don Juan, sitting around dreaming about a way to try to get into a lady's pantaloons."

Many people would have turned the lady's pantaloons into the incorrect "a ladies' pantaloons." I give credit to the baron for getting that part right. That hardly makes up for his horrendous error, though, in calling Casanova "you're regular Don Juan." No, no, no. If he's anybody's regular Don Juan, he's your regular Don Juan.

This kind of mistake is easy to prevent. The apostophe-re construction indicates a contraction. Expand upon it, and you'll know right away if you've chosen the appropriate homonym. While you might in some far-fetched utopia tell a man, "you are a regular Don Juan," you'd never say "Casanova was just you are regular Don Juan."

Problem solved.

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