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A Funny Error at the Theater

I went to a performance at one of my favorite Seattle theaters the other night. Attending the performance earned me the opportunity to get $5 off a ticket to a future offering. But the promotional card in the program included an error that made me laugh. Can you find it?

Find the error before scrolling down to my comments. 
















Yes, there are a couple of punctuation errors: In person should not be hyphenated in the second sentence. And there should be a comma before "and one of our team members" in the last sentence. But the amusing error is–did you find it?–the word backside. 

I double-checked my dictionaries just to be sure I wasn't mistaken. They confirmed my understanding: Backside is an informal term for "the buttocks, the rump." Not a good place to fill out the interest form! 

What should the writer have used instead of backside? Here are several choices: 

Fill out the back of this sheet. 

Fill out the reverse of this sheet.  

Fill out the other side of this sheet.  


Have you seen any funny errors recently? Please share them.

For a helpful reminder on other errors, read this blog post: Without Further Adieu.

And here's a usage test you may have missed: Usage Challenge: Can You Pick the Correct Word? 

Syntax Training



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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.

8 comments on “A Funny Error at the Theater”

  • Hello, May I ask you to explain a difference between fill in and fill out? Thank you in advance.
    Best wishes and Season’s greetings!

  • 🙂 I see this mistake all the time as I live in Germany and the term in German is “Rueckseite” which means…backside!

  • Hello Elena,

    “Fill in” and “fill out”–good question. “The American Heritage College Dictionary” suggests that both are correct. It contains an entry for “fill out,” which says “to complete (a form, for example) by providing required information.” That seems the better match for your situation.

    However, one of the dictionary’s definitions for “fill in” is “to provide with information that is essential or newly acquired”; I believe that definition could be stretched to match your needs. Normally, though, people use it in sentences like these: “Fill me in on the details” and “Please fill in the team on what happened.”

    Although I prefer “fill out,” I don’t think you would be wrong if you filled in the forms. Just be consistent.


  • Kathryn, thanks for the information! I enjoyed learning that “backside” appears incorrectly in more than one language. I wonder whether we will learn about more examples.


  • Hello Lynn, thank you very much for your attention to my question and your explanation. Now it’s clear!
    Have a nice day

  • In Finnish, the reverse side of a sheet of paper is “takapuoli”, and that is also a colloquial expression for buttocks/rump. However, in more formal contexts, “kääntöpuoli” is usually used, this word doesn’t have a double meaning.

    Fill in seems to be more common in British usage, while fill out is the American expression, but both seem to mean essentially the same thing, at least in the context of filling in/out a form. There might be a distinction between the two in American English, in that fill in might mean to fill in a mostly completed form with missing details (e.g. date and signature), while filling out means completing an empty form from scratch. As far as I know, there’s no such distinction in British English. (A bit of background: Br.E. is the version I grew up with in school, including a year’s stay in the UK when I was a child. I mostly use British English professionally, but switched to American in private communications online more than 20 years ago.)

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