Double Whammy: Misused Quotation Marks and Apostrophe

You would think that a company offering ‘executive’ coaching would want to impress the world with its professionalism, wouldn’t you?

So who was in charge when a company put up its website placeholder (there are no evident links beyond the front page) and included the tagline ‘Be known for “Leadership at it’s Best”‘?

Not content with inserting an apostrophe where none was appropriate, the person or persons responsible have included quotation marks around the phrase Leadership at its Best. This is a basic and all too common error. Used in this way, the quotation marks signify grammatically that the company is joking or not offering the real thing when it offers Leadership at its Best. In other words, when people use quotation marks in this way to lend emphasis to a word or phrase, they are actually subverting their own communication.

Food shops that advertise products as “fresh” or “organic” evoke probably needless concern among many customers who know their use of quotation marks. It’s unfortunate that shopkeepers choose to undermine their own business in this way.

For an archive of examples that will appal or amuse you, or both, check out the Gallery of “Misused” Quotation Marks. To give just one example:

Sign on friend’s front door
Doorbell “out of order.” Please “knock” or “rattle” letterbox.
Is your friend wondering why nobody comes to visit anymore?

There is a brief explanation of the correct and incorrect use of quotation marks, with examples, at this site.


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