A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Sound advice, suspect grammar

Written July 30th, 2015 by Hasso Hering

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Living in the glass house that is the writing game, I’m reluctant to throw stones. But sometimes it’s just too hard to resist, especially when a heat wave makes it hard to come up with weightier stuff.

Maybe the author of this banner was inspired by the admonition “Drive sober.” But in that case, the adjective describes the condition of the driver, not the act of driving itself.

Perhaps the slogan on the banner could be rescued with a word or two: Please, drive and be careful. Naw, I guess not. It wouldn’t have the same meaning, let alone the same ring.

On the other hand, maybe the words apply not to traffic but to recreation on the links, urging players not to dawdle. But then it would still benefit from a comma or, better yet, a period: Please drive. Careful! (Lest a drive end up going astray and hitting a bystander or even a passing car on Spring Hill. (hh)

4 responses to “Sound advice, suspect grammar”

  1. Hasso Hering says:

    Lisa Farnam commented via email: As a proofreader, I feel your pain. You see mistakes everywhere!

  2. Ken says:

    How about adding an “-ly” as in “Carefully”?

  3. Shawn Dawson says:

    Hi Hasso,

    This phrase drives professional teachers crazy as well:


    Nevertheless, some US newspapers use this phrase in their headlines:


    As do UK newspapers in their photo captions:


    And road departments create signs with the offending phrase:


    But they did back in the old days as well:


    And as one can buy t-shirts, mugs, baby clothes, iPhone cases, and key chains with the phrase, the guerrilla subversion of the language continues:




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