In one scene of M. Night Shyamalan’s movie, Lady in the Water, people gathered around a cereal box believing that could it reveal great secrets—presumably from some other realm. I can identify with Mr. Shyamalan: I read cereal boxes. However, I have uncovered something more mysterious than messages from beyond and way more sinister than the sugary ingredients. I have discovered a plot to undermine the grammatical skills of our youth.

Conspiracy theorists take careful note of my ruminations. This is no joke! My revelation will come as no surprise to all you grammar geeks out there. You’ve seen our language deteriorate bit by bit, and you’ll be glad to know that the source of that ruination can now be identified: cereal boxes and milk cartons.

Just in case you think mine are the thoughts of some crank, I will lay out the problem. I found the following on the packaging of some nationally recognized products:


are deliciously hearty, and toasted with just a touch of natural sweetness.”

“Try and see for yourself. We think you’ll agree, it tastes delicious!”

Can you imagine the innocent, impressionable minds being exposed to such horrors? What! You don’t see the mistakes! It must be worse than I thought. If you, fellow grammarian, can spot the errors, please write to me. Assure me that I’m not a lonely voice in some grammatical wasteland.

We must fight this insidious conspiracy, and you can help me with the campaign against these dastardly villains of grammatical gore. Grammar geeks unite! If we don’t stop it, grammatical degradation will assault your children even before they enter the classroom. Who needs poor English education when the breakfast table has already led us astray?

(Then again, maybe M. Night Shyamalan and I have too much time on our hands.)

Seriously though, shouldn’t I expect the packages of nationally recognized products to contain sentences without simple (hint) punctuation errors?