Infiniti Canada Has Bad Grammar

No doubt, we're the last people you'd expect to comment on English grammar so we're not going to. We're going to let Adrants reader Michael Scott take the floor and tell us about his efforts to try to get Infiniti Canada to correct the grammar he claims is wrong in this ad

Here's a copy of a plea I sent to two months ago......and again today:

SUBJECT: Your "All that's missing ARE the wings" co-op newspaper advertisement

Please, pull the ad from your co-op kit and replace it with a corrected version........(or, alternatively, advise all dealers to stop running the print ad.) (The ad appeared in Tuesday, Oct 10th's National Post, page A6, over your dealer Woodchester Infiniti's name.)

If this ad is going to live on........the headline must be corrected to read, "All that's missing IS the wings."

In its current form, I'm sure you are repelling more potential buyers than you are attracting. (I know it throws ME off my lunch every time I see it!!)

The subject of your headline is the word "ALL"........not "WINGS". Therefore the verb "is" must be used to agree with the subject, not the PLURAL "are" as it now reads.

Apparently you don't trust me as a source of English usage. I wrote to you about this a couple of months ago as well as to your agency, but the ad continues to run in its gut-wrenching form.

Please consult someone at your ad agency who is over the age of 40 and who learned how to speak English back in the day when teachers cared and/or knew the difference between good and just plain WRONG.

So there, Infiniti.

by Steve Hall    Oct-10-06   Click to Comment   
Topic: Agencies, Bad, Brands   

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The English spoken in Louisiana is quite different from the English spoken in London. And as we all know, a subset of a language is a dialect. Something that is shared by a smaller regional area like say, Cockney.

An idiolect, on the other hand, is a dialect spoken by a very small group or individual.

An Idiolect is marked by departures from the accepted form that aren't shared with the larger community.

Forensic experts probe for idiolectic markers in ransom notes and terrorist threat emails. It was idiolectic distinctions that allowed a Quantico forensic teams to ID the Unabomber.

If I'm getting on your nerves Michael and you tell me to “piss off” I'm not going to urinate from a my roof. And if I seem to be egging you on Michael, you understand what I say has nothing to do with eggs, right?

So when I say you are an Idiolectic you’re not going to get insulted---you know I’m referring to your idiomatic obsession with a perceived wrong usage that in fact is correct and widely accepted and ID’s you as an Idiolect.

"All" is by definition referring to a plural and thus you are dead wrong on insisting on IS in place of ARE and so, Michael you should drop this rant like a hot rock. Advertising is like Oxygen or Advertising are like Oxygen? The accepted convention requires IS, even though advertising is plural, get it?

Posted by: arthur on October 10, 2006 5:43 PM

t's a classic distinction between American and English. Last I listened, the English spoken in Canada owes more the British than American English. If it was an American ad, Michael would be 100% right. "All that's missing are the wings" is truly painful sounding to an educated American. Unfortunately, "The BBC are proud to introduce ..." is also truly painful sounding, but is perfectly correct British English.

Posted by: KW Williams on October 10, 2006 8:10 PM

The UK version of the BBC website states:
"The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites."
Mr KW Williams, are you British?

Posted by: S Crouch on October 10, 2006 8:43 PM

it's advertising not grammar class. Who really gives a crap, This ad is feces, is feces singular or plural? This ad are feces? See how handy shit is?

Posted by: Snake on October 10, 2006 8:56 PM

Snake, it's called "subject-verb agreement". In your example, the subject is "ad" which is definitely singular. Feces is the object, so isn't referenced in the tense of the verb. Go back and ask your third-grade teacher if you don't believe me.

Posted by: Recluse on October 11, 2006 8:15 AM

I just fink its fab that people care enough about the English langage to argue abat it. Youd be hard pressd to find anyone in Britun under 30 whoze had it tort proply to them at scool. Like.
Dunno wats'like in America, but all I'll say is two words: George. Bush.

Posted by: FishNChimps on October 11, 2006 10:28 AM

Don't really care about infiniti ad, but in a larger sense-

There's grammar and there's advertising grammar. Advertising grammar should fit the tonality of the brand.

The most important thing is that the ad and the writing communicate the message simply and compellingly. "Proper" grammar comes second.

Writing style should not be a slave to grammar unless what you are writing needs to follow a certain form, such as a business letter, an essay, a legal brief, etc.

Posted by: Copywriter True on October 11, 2006 12:17 PM

No, I'm not British, but my vintage British Motor Company posters read "BMC are eager ..." and "BMC are proud ...", and my complete collection of Goon Show CD's all talk about how "The BBC are ...". I've had this discussion with Brits that couldn't understand why I thought it sounded funny, or who tried to correct me for saying things like "Ford is trying to get its quality control improved."

I suspect that the British usage is being contaminated, but not eliminated, by the American usage.

Posted by: KW Williams on October 11, 2006 12:20 PM

Perhaps Michael Scott could treat us to a parsing of the entire sentence to show us how he comes up with "All" (and only "All") as the subject.

Posted by: Milan Davidovic on October 11, 2006 3:02 PM

Infiniti is correct. According to Diana Hacker, "A few indefinite pronouns (all, any, none, some) may be singular or plural depending on the noun or pronoun they refer to. Examples: Some of our luggage was lost. None of this advice makes sense. Some of the rocks are slippery. None of the eggs were broken." If the sentence were phrased "The wings are all that's missing" it might be clearer. But then it wouldn't be advertising. Just because Mr. Scott feels strongly about his view doesn't make it right. English grammar rules?! Our language is a hodgepodge, as other commenters have commented! Language is for using. It's too bad Mr. Scott isn't using language to uplift instead of tear down. Oh, and by the way, does he realize that Canada spells "centre" wrong? It's supposed to be "center"!

Posted by: DC on October 11, 2006 5:08 PM

Look at Fishy, chumming the waters of political discontent.

Snake, you had me at singular. I think the plural is feci. Not sure. How'd it go again in school, lemmee see...

Herd of cattle, pack of dogs, pod of feci?

Oh, I forget. Nevermind. Tell ya what, for any grammar Nazis, I'll just go with CT's take:


Not everything need not be correct, nor should it not need to be, right? (It's ok. The two double negs cancel each other out.)

Otherwise, Mike better tell Mickey D's corporate that nobody really skewers burgers at parties and calls them apps. Things could get out of hand and then who knows what Tom Foolery and chicanery people will get into.

Posted by: makethelogobigger on October 11, 2006 10:26 PM

Hey arthur, I read the same thing at

"An idiolect, on the other hand, is the form of a language spoken by a single person, marked by a set of departures from the "norm" that aren't shared with others, at least not as a package. A person's idiolect constitutes a kind of linguistic fingerprint, since it's by definition unique to an individual. Police forensics folks often look for idiolect markers in, say, ransom letters. It was a series of distinctive verbal tics, for example, that allowed authorities to spot the Unabomber from his "manifesto." [Entry added 14 Sept. 2004.]"

I make lots of grammar mistakes, but not if i were submitting something for real. This forum stuff is just play. I don't work for real or pay. For pay it would be about two or three mistakes, instead of lots. But when i quote text, I usually give a source. When i think independently, then I say it is so with all my quirks and quizical phrases.

Please forgive me if you name is really jack.

Posted by: nancy on October 11, 2006 11:45 PM

Nancy, I think it's fair to say arthur was indulging in sarcasm. stay in school.

Posted by: woody on October 12, 2006 3:39 PM


Is that an effective tool in this forum?

Posted by: nancy on October 12, 2006 7:57 PM

Does Jan Levinson-Gould know how Michael has been spending his time?

Posted by: PLD on October 13, 2006 3:58 PM