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Can you spot the problem with this headmaster's letter?

by: Marilyn Owen (16 December 2014)

The headmaster at my granddaughter’s school has sent parents and guardians an urgent email. It states that a child at the school suffers from an extreme allergy to beans; that the teachers have decided that the school will become a bean-free zone; and asks parents not to send any beans into school in their child’s lunchboxes.

Fair enough – not many of us are likely to send any beans anyway! However, the following sentence says: “This means that we have substituted beans on the school menu for alternative choices.”

First, when reading this sentence I thought – wait, this is wrong! How do I rephrase this? I then realised that it was just one small word that was wrong – one little preposition. If we just replaced “for” with “with” the whole sentence would convey the meaning that was actually intended by the head teacher!

The sentence would then read: “This means that we have substituted beans on the school menu with alternative choices.”

That is the difference one little preposition can make – and why even head teachers could sometimes do with a proofreader!


Views: 1892

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Ref: 143 No, it may well be a deliberate error on the part of the headteacher to make people read the letters properly!
Marilyn - 10:42 17-12-2014
Ref: 142 Who puts beans in their kid's lunchbox??
Romany - 09:55 17-12-2014
Ref: 141 Is it laziness of thought, an error of understanding, or a grammatical mistake imported from abroad?
Garry - 09:19 17-12-2014

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