Please forgive the poor quality of this photograph. When I entered the Home Depot bathroom and saw this sign posted on all the stall doors, I simply had to take a picture of it and the only camera at my disposal was the one on my cell phone.
Months ago I spotted this advertisement in the newspaper and set it aside as an excellent example of sentence fragments (not to mention lack of capitalization at the beginning of sentences):
Signs like these are why I empathize so much with students when grading papers. I just don’t have it in me to lecture students about how, as college students, they should know by now what a comma splice is. Not when signs like this one are posted in frequented public places, confusing and teaching incorrect grammar to people who are learning how to write.
Even if I can’t fault a student for reproducing the errors she sees everyday on billboards, signs, and flyers, that doesn’t mean I can allow it to continue. In a world of educated people who are all too willing to judge a person’s level of intelligence based on the writing she produces, it’s absolutely necessary to be ruthless with grammar instruction.
It is never easy to have errors in your writing pointed out to you, but it is vital if you are going to grow as a writer. Facing constructive criticism and the blow to your pride that comes with it builds character, too, and teaches you how to appropriately deal with feedback. Of course, someone (even if it’s it’s your internal monologue) has to be there to tell you to take it in stride, that the critique is nothing personal and you’ll be a better person for having experienced it.
If you’re someone who struggles with English, forgive yourself for making errors. After all, your eyes see conflicting reports every day over what is correct writing. But after you’ve made peace with your flaws, fix them; don’t let the mistakes people make become an excuse for you to be less than your full potential. You can be sure that society won’t be cutting you the same slack.
If, after you’ve gone back and read the post about comma splices and fragments, you still can’t find them in these two examples, send me an e-mail and I’ll be happy to point them out to you and explain why they’re grammatically incorrect.