It’s time for another quirky British award – the winner of the 2014 Bad Grammar Award will be revealed at a sold-out event here on Thursday, with the National Health Service (NHS), Tesco and the Army Careers Office vying for the top honours.
Industry leaders have long been complaining that British students pass out of schools and universities without basic literacy skills, but the shortlist for the award reveals that the grammatical challenge extends beyond basic education.
The award, instituted by an academy associated with the Idler magazine to highlight "the incorrect use of English by people and institutions who should know better," will be presented at the event billed as a "a thrilling X-Factor for pedants".
The Idler Academy is a school based in London which offers courses in classical liberal arts and practical skills.
The shortlist revealed by The Guardian is headed by Tesco, for using "less" not "fewer" in reference to numbers on loo-roll packaging – "Same Luxury. Less Lorries" – and for describing its orange juice as "most tastiest".
The NHS is also in the race, for confusing subject and object in a letter – "Your appointment has now been organised to attend Queen Mary’s Hospital….," and for featuring a rogue apostrophe: "The RDC Suite’s are clearly signposted".
Ironically, cafe chain Apostrophe, is also in the running, for its marketing slogan, "Great taste on it’s way."
MP Tristram Hunt is on the shortlist for "tautology and other errors".
Also included is the Army Careers Office for using "you’re" for "your" on a sign in a window: "For any inquires [sic] please contact you’re nearest Army Careers Office."
This year’s judges are Jeremy Paxman of the BBC, Rowley Leigh, and Hadley Freeman of The Guardian.
Paxman said, "People who care about grammar are regularly characterised as pedants. I say that those who don’t care about it shouldn’t be surprised if we pay no attention to anything they say – if indeed they’re aware of what they’re trying to say."