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Things that get stuck in my poor head

I saw an advert on the tube for an investment company, which included the peculiar phrase:

“A simplified and full prospectus are available on request”.

The phrase sounds so awkward that I have to think that it’s could well be correct, even though it just sounds wrong. Surely someone in the marketing department would have said “hang on, are you sure about that, it doesn’t quite read right” before it went to print, and they would get it checked out. Either they’d use correct grammar even if it’s a bit unusual, or they’re going to word it in such a way that makes it easy to read, even if not quite correct.

Or, behind door three, this could be just a cunning advertising ploy to get their branding to stick in my head. I’ve considered this, and of course it’s worked because I can remember clearly which company’s advert it was. However this is highly cynical, and just a little paranoid, so let’s move on.

I think we can rule out this being one prospectus that is both simple and full. As well as the use of the verb are being mostly what makes it sound clunky, the concept of a prospectus being both of these things makes little sense. It sounds like they have two versions – either you’re smart enough to read the full prospectus, or you’re a fool and just want a quick overview written in words of one syllable (I hope it’s illustrated too) before handing over your money.

So should it be using the word “both” to clarify things? This might help, if they insist on not pluralising prospectus. However it’s an ideal opportunity to use the comedy plural prospecti and that would stick in my head just as much because everyone loves cacti and octopi.

I don’t know. And this is a pretty pointless entry. But it’s still stuck in my head and I had to get out.

Sorry.

1 comment to Things that get stuck in my poor head

  • Geoff

    It’s wrong.

    The plural of prospectus is prospectuses. It looks stupid but it is.

    Even if they’d decided that prospectus was its own plural (like sheep) you’d have to say “simplified and full prospectus are available on request”

    The correct way to write it (given that you don’t want to use the horrible and stupid-looking plural) is “a simplified and a full prospectus are available on request” – because then you’re talking about a single prospectus each time but it counts as two of them.

    eg

    “A green and a red apple are available to buy”

    or

    “Green and red apples are available to buy”

    not

    “A Green and red apple are available to buy” – that’s just incorrect sentence construction.

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