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Error or No Error?

I saw this great card designed by Jessica Hogarth at my local supermarket. It’s a thank-you card for a teacher.

Does it contain an error? If so, where? If not, why not?


Do you worry about whether errors are getting by you? Or that you are correcting non-errors? Check out these two online self-study courses: Proofread Like a Pro and Punctuation for Professionals. Use those links to take $30 off each course throughout May.

In your writing and editing, which items make you think twice? Punctuation problems? Grammar gaffes? Tell me which ones bother you, and I’ll either write a blog post for you, refer you to one I have already written, or explain it in a comment.

I’ll comment on the thank-you card tomorrow.


May 2, 2019

Yes, the card does have an error. I’ve corrected it in the image below.

Corrected thank-you


The thank-you sentence needs a comma because it directly addresses the teacher.

I’ve written about the direct-address comma many times. Read these posts if you would like explanations and examples:

What Some Got Right About My Birthday: The Comma

Will You Commit Lynn?

How New Is That Rule?

The Commonest Punctuation Error of 2008

Posted by Lynn Gaertner Johnson
By Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston has helped thousands of employees and managers improve their business writing skills and confidence through her company, Syntax Training. In her corporate training career of more than 20 years, she has worked with executives, engineers, scientists, sales staff, and many other professionals, helping them get their messages across with clarity and tact.

A gifted teacher, Lynn has led writing classes at more than 100 companies and organizations such as MasterCard, Microsoft, Boeing, Nintendo, REI, AARP, Ledcor, and Kaiser Permanente. Near her home in Seattle, Washington, she has taught managerial communications in the MBA programs of the University of Washington and UW Bothell. She has created a communications course, Business Writing That Builds Relationships, and provides the curriculum at no cost to college instructors.

A recognized expert in business writing etiquette, Lynn has been quoted in "The Wall Street Journal," "The Atlantic," "Vanity Fair," and other media.

Lynn sharpened her business writing skills at the University of Notre Dame, where she earned a master's degree in communication, and at Bradley University, with a bachelor's degree in English. She grew up in suburban Chicago, Illinois.

13 comments on “Error or No Error?”

  • WHY IS IT ALL CAPS? “Great” should not be capitalized. It that a single closing quote or an apostrophe in “you’re”?

  • The top portion addresses (speaks to) the teacher directly. Like Holly, I believe this lovely card needs a comma: “THANK YOU, TEACHER!”

    I also agree generally with Bart’s comments. However, if this card were to be presented by a young student, it would not be uncommon for the child to SHOUT with enthusiasm. Perhaps CAPS were chosen deliberately for emphasis. Without additional context, it’s hard to know what the artist/writer intended.

  • Yes, a comma after the “Thank you” and a lowercase g for “great.” And why is the ruler only 10 inches long?

    It’s a mighty pretty poster so never mind the errors. It is prettier than they are glaring. (I’m scared writing this, wondering how many glaring goofs I’m making.)

  • I believe that technically there needs to be a comma after “you”. But in this context, a “fun” card, I wouldn’t insist on it or mark it as an error. Same with the lower case g. I think this one falls closer to personal preference.

  • If anything, a hyphen in thank-you however, I’d be inclined to leave it as is given the context.

  • I don’t mind the all caps – it’s a card after all, so I bet it’s a choice based on aesthetics. It’s meant to stand out.

    I also believe there should be a comma after “thank you” and “great” should have a lower case.

    Especially since it’s addressed to a teacher, there shouldn’t be any mistakes!

  • Funny how the one that screams at me is, THANk. Why is there a lower case k when the rest are capital?

  • I love the card, and think it’s perfect as is. Yes, technically there should be a comma and a lower case g, but it’s all forgivable in the context of the card. There are no glaring mistakes, no loss of clarity, no offensive grammar issues.

    I also think the all caps was done for emphasis and/or aesthetics.

  • Thank you, everyone, for weighing in on the quiz. I have corrected the card in an image above.

    Are you surprised at the need for a comma? Yes, directly addressing the reader in a sentence requires one or two commas. The first sentence in my comment here required two because the word “everyone” appeared in the middle of the sentence.

    Holly, you’re right–the card needed a comma.

    Bart, I think the capitalization is fine for a card. We would want to use traditional capitalization in an email or another work communication.

    Jane, you got the comma right! Thanks for elaborating on the capitalization question. I agree with you.

    Kls, thanks for your generous spirit–and your perfectly correct comment. You made me curious about 10-inch rulers–I found them online.

    Larry, I’m going to insist on that comma. You may have heard of the “Let’s eat Grandma” example. We need punctuation!

    Peter, how do you feel about the corrected version of the image? That comma is important to me and the proofreaders of the world.

    Patti, “thank you” does not need a hyphen in this context. However, it does when the phrase is used as an adjective (thank-you card) and as a noun (He wrote a thank-you).

    Deborah, I’m with you. However, I’d let “Great” stand as is since it’s an exuberant message.

    Cassie, interesting catch! I think it’s just a handwriting issue.

    Patty, thanks for your positive attitude. I like your thinking that the cards is perfect as is. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we all regularly received such thank-yous?

    Again, thank you, everyone! I appreciate your input.


  • Chanakavp, that’s a great question. Because this card expresses very positive emotions, I believe the two exclamation points are appropriate.

    “Thank You, Teacher” and “You’re Great” may seem a bit flat without the exclamation points, especially with the exuberant design.


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