Just Your TypeType, design, writing and other funny stuff
In September 2019, Blenheim Palace, the birthplace of Winston Churchill, installed a solid gold toilet. Two days later, it was stolen.
The pretty potty is the creation of Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan, and was meant to be his comment on excessive wealth. It had spent the previous year on display at the Guggenheim Museum in New York, where it was intended to be, um, used. The toilet, worth about 1.25 million dollars, was titled, “America.”
Investigators report they have nothing to go on.
Okay — that’s a really old joke, stolen from a story about a toilet that had gone mysteriously missing from a police station. In the actual Golden Toilet Caper, the thieves were caught in just days.
What is all this talk about prepositions for?
This story isn’t about toilets or art or Churchill. It’s about ending a sentence with a preposition, just like I did there in the subheading right above this sentence. Or in the sentence, they have nothing to go on. There’s a rule against it. Some people spit and snarl and gnash their teeth when they see one, others say it’s fine in certain contexts.
The punchline above: “they have nothing to go on” — how else are you going to say it? They have nothing on which to go? Ugh. Get outta here. Grammatically it’s better, stylistically it’s worse. There are idioms — ways we say things — and it’s no fun to mess with those.
I suggest you get out of the jam this way: throw out the whole sentence and start over. If you find yourself struggling over good grammar versus sounding right, you’re already in trouble. In the punchline above, you might say instead, “They have no clues to follow.” Of course, you’ll ruin the joke, but you get the idea.
“From now on, ending a sentence with a preposition is something up with which I will not put.”— Winston Churchill
Of course if you’re one of those who think there’s nothing wrong with ending a sentence with a preoposition, try this — a sentence that ends in no less than five prepositions. With a little mental calesthenics, it makes sense too:
On his way upstairs for bedtime, a little boy asked his mom, “What are you bringing that book that I don’t want to be read to out of up for?
Previously on Just Your Type:
One guy, translating from paper to programming, made a typo—a big fat typo. A $156 million typo.read more
Take it from me: if you’re giving advice about spelling and quality, maybe you should spring for a proofreader. This screen shot came from our local TV station…read more
National Public Radio shared an interesting story about the redesigning of Helvetica. By far, Helvetica is used more often than any other face, so why redesign? Technical reasons, mostly to do with changing times. It's a great story, but not for here. Whew, what a...read more
Words matter. You want to get it right. So when it comes to ketchup versus catsup, which should you be using? Ketchup. See? See? I can get to the point. But I'm still going to ramble on about all the fun background bits. Like this, from our Department of Repetitive...read more
I had to laugh: only one typo in the message, but dang, what an exquisite typo. They misspelled typo.read more
You know what an italic font is. Bold type is simple enough to understand. Bold italic? Easy-peasy. But what if a font isn’t any of those?read more
About one in twenty manuscripts we receive starts with a "Forward." That makes sense because at that point it's the only direction you can go in the book, unless you want to read the title page again. The problem is that it is wrong. Where are we going with this?...read more
When you want to say something big — no, big — no, REALLY BIG, BIGGER THAN BIG, THE BIGGEST OF THE BIGS — should you choose italics, ALL CAPS, or underlined text? First, consider none of those. Try letting the text speak for itself, rather than using formatting to...read more
This problem came up in a book I was working on recently. The author italicized a lot of words, but didn't include any of his punctuation in the italicization. Put another way, his words were italic, but his punctuation was Roman. It left a lot of visual...read more
Do orphans, widows and runts still matter? For a million dollars, will you tell me what they really mean?read more