12/23/2007

'Rudolf' the 'red-face' sign-maker

Mr. Rewrite is going to take it easy over Christmas. Enjoy one of his favorite misspelled signs from holidays past and one more Christmas-related spelling rant ...

It's too easy for Mr. Rewrite to pick out a holiday standard such as "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" and find examples of plenty of articles botching it. Here we go:

Rudolph the Red-Nose Reindeer
Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer
Rudolf the Red-Nose Reindeer

Remember Mr. Rewrite's advice about proper nouns: Always check them. These mistakes undermine your writing in a big way. CBS owns the rights to the TV special, so its Rudolph Web site can be your guide.

Let's also remember to hyphenate "red-nosed," as you're using a compound adjective in this case. Grammar Rule: Hyphenate words used as a single adjective before a noun, but don't hyphenate when they follow the noun. Here are practical holiday examples:

1. The brand-new jail cell was a perfect place for Aunt Jane after she chugged eggnog and belted Uncle Al.

2. The jail cell was brand new and a perfect place for Aunt Jane after she chugged eggnog and belted Uncle Al.

By the way, the only spelling allowed for those pretty lighted bags lining roadsides is luminarias. Luminaries shows up dozens of times on Google News.

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