Poor grammar

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    To me, grammatical errors stick out like sore thumbs. I recently encountered these three examples; can you see what is wrong?

    (Heard on a commercial on KPAM) “If you’re worried like I was…”

    (In an e-mail from a major automobile manufacturer) “What could happen in a subsequent collision if your car was repaired incorrectly?”

    (In the same e-mail)To learn more about ProFirst Certified shops and how an improperly repaired vehicle in a subsequent collision could effect you, watch this video.


    The first one is excusable. It’s the way a lot of people talk, even though it probably should be, “If you’re as worried as I was…”

    It’s less excusable in a written ad or email. I think the second one has two mistakes. It should be “What would happen is a subsequent collision if your car were repaired incorrectly?”

    Many Americans wouldn’t worry about using the subjunctive “were.” Its use seems to be dying in American English. But since you speak Spanish in which there is no avoiding use of the subjunctive, you’re probably more sensitive to it.

    In the third case, “effect” should be “affect.” I see that error a lot online in casual posting, but it shouldn’t happen in business communications.


    could/would… “could” suggests a *possibility* not a forgone conclusion, IMHO, ok in the sentence.


    Ding! Ding! Ding!

    #1 I thought definitely should have been “If you’re worried as I was…” I was taught a long time ago that “like” is used to make a comparison to a noun, whereas “as” is used to make a comparison to an entire phrase. There was once the classic slogan, “Winston tastes good, like a cigarette should.” Mad magazine came along and fixed the grammatical error by changing the slogan to, “Winston tastes like a cigar.”

    I think that ad copy writers sometimes deliberately write in this grammatical error because they believe it makes the speech sound more extemporaneous.

    #2 I had to give some thought. The e-mail in which this sentence occurred urged the reader to only use manufacturer-approved collision centers. The ad then presented the hypothetical scenario of taking one’s car to a non-approved collision center and the potential consequence of ending up with an unsafe car. To me, subjunctive sounds appropriate because the car wreck hasn’t happened.

    #3 I believe was simply a common typographical error. I included it because I think that many people mistakenly believe that the noun “effect” can be turned into a verb that means “to cause an effect.”

    I now see that there was a typographical error on my part. I forgot to put quotation marks around the third example.

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