Welcome to our new series, “The Fix-It Police”! How often do you see grammar mistakes in everyday life? Contrary to popular belief, just because something is printed or electronically published does not mean it’s exempt from grammatical flaws.
In this series, we aim to identify issues we see day-to-day and politely correct them.
Recently, I purchased a new bottle of hairspray and, like many others, read the back of the can out of curiosity of the brand’s marketing and advertising strategies, only to stumble across a sentence that made about as much sense as a chameleon in a bag of skittles.
Why You Want It… Finish volume and body with super strong, hold that lasts and lasts.
- To begin, the sentence assumes that you’re “finishing,” i.e., applying the final touches, onto a voluminous hairstyle. However, not everyone wants Dolly Parton hair. What if you’ve straightened your hair and realize what you purchased doesn’t apply to you? From a marketing standpoint, limiting your audience can be a detriment.
- The second and biggest issue in this sentence is the unnecessary comma between “super strong” and “hold.” Here, “super strong” acts as an adjectival unit describing the noun “hold.” Since adjectives and their nouns are meant to go together, this comma supplies an unnecessary, awkward pause.
- Finally, we have a redundant pair with “lasts and lasts.” Surely, there’s a stronger phrase or even a stronger word that can take the place of this. It’s about as effective as placing “very” several times before an adjective: “This hairspray is very, very, very bad.”
- Let’s change the assumedly voluminous style into something more general and applicable, so the sentence starts off with, “Finish your style with…”
- The comma fix here is simple: just take it out! Adjectives and nouns are pairs; though compound adjectives can be separated with a comma in certain instances, the nouns they modify them must be attached to make sense. (For more help with commas, check out our Homegrown Handout.) Now our sentence reads, “Finish your style with super strong hold…”
- Lastly, let’s think of a better and less redundant ending to the sentence that represents the hold of the hairspray. (For more help with redundancy, check out our Homegrown Handout.) How about, “Finish your style with super strong hold that never fails,” or “…super strong, everlasting hold.”
From the original wording, we’ve changed the message to encompass more than one hairstyle, eliminate needless pauses, and end the text with powerful, specific phrasing that doesn’t rely on multiples of the same word to convey one idea.
Next time, take a moment to read through some labels or claims on your products. Chances are you’ll find something that’ll make you go, “huh?” Send in your questions and we’ll be happy to help fix them!