Writing Tips & Musings

Life in a Boneless Country

By Dave Fox
Tulsa, Oklahoma

[This post originally appeared on my Wordsplash blog in 2008.]


I wrote a couple of days ago about my annoyance with the commonly abused phrase, “each and every.” If that expression doesn’t make you scrunch your eyebrows with disdain, here’s a more egregious use of the word, “each,” that should. I spotted the following sign a couple of years ago during an under-cover grammar investigation at a grocery store in Tulsa, Oklahoma:


Okay, I’m not even going to explain why “by the each” is wrong, nor am I going to go off on a rant right now about spell-checking before you print a sign that thousands of customers are going to see.

What’s troubling me about this sign is a lack of commas and/or hyphens. Without them, one wonders: What exactly are “boneless country style ribs?” Are they (a) country-style ribs without bones, or (b) ribs from a boneless country?

But if you think about it, the answer is clear. They must be ribs from a boneless country. There’s no such thing as a “boneless rib.” A rib is a type of bone.

Comments from the original blog:

OMG…I totally forgot about that sign. I must have been in a boneless country.

Posted by: Jen | February 08, 2008 at 11:29 AM

I worked at that store. This sign is one in a million. Some of the worst being, “office presonel only” and “we sell batterys”.

Posted by: Anonymous. | December 02, 2010 at 05:57 AM

Published on Wednesday, January 9, 2008

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