There’s a Flag on the Sentence

Last week, Maureen over at Oddments offered an interesting post about an autumn scene. Afterwards, she offered the following confession:

A note, dear reader: many years ago, oh, so many, I was advised never to use a series of sibilant sounds. Which, as you can tell, is a rule that doesn’t take itself too seriously.

Coping” – November 10, 2021 by Oddment

I was taken by her phrasing, and since it’s Monday, and I exceeded my word count this weekend in the extreme, I thought I’d go with something light and short-ish.

Here in the US, we are waiting for one last NFL football game to round out Week-10, I’m drawn to the subject of officiating and the conversations and arguments that pop up every week around that subject. One week ago, there were many complaints about bad officiating during the Monday Night Football game that my favorite team ended up winning. Mistakes were made affecting both sides…but this isn’t about football. I’m going to apply football penalties(1)  to writing.

Ending a sentence with a preposition – I think this would constitute an Illegal formation. That’s a five-yard penalty but you can repeat the down, i.e., try again.

They’re-there-their – this is what I say to The Editor when she worries about my grammar. Since these words refer to people, positions and possibly possession, I’m going to treat them as if there’s an ineligible receiver. That’s a five-yard penalty – try again.

Unnecessary comma/semicolon – This is a common mistake of mine. I often stick a comma in when I think the reader should pause. But who am I to say…? I’ll call this a holding penalty. I suppose, as the author, I would be considered to be ‘on offence’ so, this would be a 10-yard penalty. That’s how The Editor treats it.

Missing comma – The companion to (and often competing for the top position with) the unnecessary comma is the comma that’s gone missing. Since this would cause the words to be considered part of the sentence where they don’t belong, I’ll call this encroachment. That’s a five-yard penalty. Go ahead, try again.

Lack of capitalization or indentation (if you’re in the habit of indenting) – I think it’s clear this would be a false start. That’s another five-yard penalty – easily overcome.

Using too many big words a.k.a. sesquipedalian writing – This behavior (a form of unsportsmanlike conduct) is a major infraction. I’d say it’s equivalent to taunting. This is a serious penalty, 15-yards. If committed by the defense, it also results in an automatic first down for the offense. Don’t try to impress us.

Extra syllable(s) in line of poetry – I’d say this is equivalent to having too many men on field. It’s a 5-yard penalty. Try again.

Sibilant (making or characterized by a hissing sound), this was Maureen’s offence – I don’t really have a good fit for this. I did find sideline infraction, but the penalty doesn’t apply in the NFL. Since we’re all professionals, we’ll let Maureen slide on this one.

I normally stop at eight things. But since Cheryl is doing nine gratitudes during November.  I will add this last one for bloggers as they format their pages.

Too many GIFs – I’d equate this with illegal motion. Another 5-yard penalty. Remove a few and try again.

(1) For explanations and a complete list of NFL penalties, visit this page on Wikipedia.


  1. I so wish I’d had this back in my teaching days! I wouldn’t have understood anything about the football rules, but my students sure would have! My favorite part is “try again.” That’s something I really understand! Those apples in silhouette are just as beautiful as they were ripening. You started my week with some good fun — thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You and Maureen first thing Monday along with some grammar mixed carefully with some football is a good thing. :-) I’m not a big football fan except for the Patriots and the Chiefs final scores, but my husband keeps me posted – Dan is happy, Dan is not happy. :-) You’ve been happy or at least content for the last couple of game. Way to go!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I was even happy to see the Patriots win yesterday (abnormal for me). We did well this season so far, we beat the Bills for you and you beat the Browns for us. Maybe we’ll meet later on in the playoffs (if we start playing better). I think we still have to face KC in the regular season.

      I hope you have a nice week, Judy.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This is very clever. I won’t pretend to understand football, but I understand these terms as you’ve applied them.

    Maddie with her feathers glowing from the sun makes a great picture. Poor Smokey having to stand in frost-covered grass waiting for his peanut. The misty photos are beautiful. Another great capture of Old Glory flying proud.

    Glad you left one of Maddie’s deck free of lawn debris!

    Hope your week is starting off on the right foot.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Maddie was not happy to see 10 bags of leaves on her porch. When we got back to the stairs, she plopped, as if to say, “I’m sitting with or without you.” I think she might have added something after that, but I coldn’t quite make it out.

      Maddie hasn’t adapted to the time change. She’s been pestering me to go for a walk early. Today, we left before 7:00 because I couldn’t stand her whining and pacing.

      Smokey also reminds me not to take all the leaves. We leave some along the fence for emergency next repairs after winter storms – like a good neighbor 🙂

      I hope you have a great week, Ginger.


  4. Excellent, Dan! You’ve made the rules visual, which is very helpful for me. I love the photos, but seeing the bags of leaves draws a sigh. We’ve yet to tackle that monster.😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • Despite 6 bags last week and 10 this week, Gwen, our yard still looks like we don’t own a rake. I tell myself they all have to come up, so every bag helps, but it’s discouraging when 3 hours after I’m done, we get a thunderstorm and “foomp” the yard is full.

      I’m glad you enjoyed the post. Keep an eye out for those flags,

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I would throw my red challenge flag, except this is a perfect post, Dan. I know a few grammarians who would get a kick out of this as long as they are also football fans. Good job on today’s writing game. You scored in the last five seconds and you won! (Just like the Packers and Steelers)

    Happy Monday, happy week!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I throw the challenge flag on some of the Editor’s calls, but they always seem to get upheld – “there being no need for further review, the ruling on the page stands.”

      I do get the posts published, so I guess I win.

      I hope you have a great week operating near sea level 😏

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Haha! Well done, Dan. The only one I might add would be ‘unnecessary delay of the game’ involving frivolous chapters that are redundant or irrelevant to the story. Or perhaps a ‘two minute warning’ when the ending is going to be abrupt and unsatisfying. 😜Love the litter of leaves in the pool. Poor Maddie. The yard debris usurping her territory. I loved this post. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Maddie looks like an expert at relaxing in these photos, Dan. She should give lessons. (Yes, I know that isn’t really the case, but those isolated moments are lovely.)
    I confess, I have less than zero interest in football, but I’ll leave you with this tune.
    Hugs on the wing.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Much as I try, I find that I commit so many grammatical infractions now that I never would have when I was working. I also have a tendency to start sentences with a conjunction (which is now OK?), then change it, insert a comma, and attach to the previous sentence. Sheesh. Who made up all these rules?! This was a fun post, though, Dan. Your photo of the bellweather tree ready for its winter nap is BEAUTIFUL!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Brad Lewis, an author friend of mine who has visited the bar on occasion recently said that it seems like all the rules of grammar have gone out the window. Still, anything I write has to get past The Editor. I swear that woman has a wooden ruler hidden somewhere. Odd ly enough, my grammar might be improving since I retired. When I was working, I was either writing/reviewing computer code or dealing with acronym-laden language and bullet points that people allegedly put some thought into.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Ha ha ha! So basically you have just done a touchdown on your own goal? Damn you’re good or bad. Depends on your point of view. I personally have no problem trashing all the rules and I do so with great joy. So penalize away! Hi Maddie.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Did New England beat the Browns ? Or did the Browns beat the Browns. They are good at that you know. Silibant the sound a defective whoopee cushion makes when someone sits on it… Happy Monday Dan… PS – I stopped worrying who beat the Browns years ago. It is just a game. Hmmm maybe silibant is the sound a defective football makes when the Browns sit on it…

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Loved this post!! My wife and I both love football and raised our girls in a household that followed NFL every week (counting Monday Night Football). Love the verbal analogies!! LOL!! Here’s to hoping tonights game pulls me up from the basement in our family fantasy league!! Have a great week, Dan!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Lots of lovely photos today, Dan, and I enjoyed the football rules applied to English/grammar. Both my husband and I enjoy football, although I don’t really care that much about watching games with teams I don’t care for (preposition ending, which used to be verboten but is pretty much accepted these days.) I’d watch lots of hockey if I could get it (could but just haven’t gotten around to signing up) and we watch rugby and cycling whenever we can. I think we should apply the taunting penalty freely in politics and to the media, (un)social or mainstream, these days. Actually targeting would be even better because we could kick the perpetrator out for the rest of the game and half the next. It would make life much nicer. :-)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Taunting and targeting applied to politicians and the media would be wonderful, and no challenge flags given to those guys.

      I don’t watch a lot of football if it doesn’t felt a team I follow,, but that actually opens it up to a lot of teams, especially as the playoff field starts getting set. I’m glad you like the pictures.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Hi Dan – grammar … defeats so many. I positively hate Gifs – they take up so much time and effort as I look at my screen – and are usually completely useless as far as I am concerned! Said my bit … I’m fortunate for some reason I mostly cope with grammar – why I’ve no idea: (perhaps you’d say without my ellipses, it’d be even better) – but If it reads well, and can be understood, then fine … but the football analogies are fun to read: great idea. No ice yet here – but they’re threatening us (well the weather forecasters!). Cheers Hilary

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for chiming on on the GIFs, Hilary. I find them visually distracting and it’s very hard to read. I try to manage the grammar well. I don’t want people to turn away because I added a comma where it didn’t belong. Please don’t take away my ellipses

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ellipses: Yours can stay … mine will anyway!

        Sometimes I’ll email a blogger re a glaring grammar error – sadly I find them (occasionally!) in my old posts when I visit – just to let them know – but obviously only bloggers I related with. (And that’s bad grammar!). Cheers H

        Liked by 1 person

  14. Oh boy, I rack up tons of penalties with grammar errors! On the bright-side I don’t do gifs on my blog. 😀

    It looks like the wind really cleared off the trees there. The foggy mornings looked lovely and a bit mysterious around the park.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I would rack up about 50 or 60 yards a day, if these were being accessed. Bit no GIFs. I occasionally add some music, after the post, but I’ll call that the halftime entertainment.

      There are still enough leaves in the trees to keep filling my yard, but we’re getting near the end.

      Sometimes, the park gets mysterious enough that Maddie is a little hesitant to go very far. I think she’s afraid the walker lady may be waiting in the mist.

      I hope you’re having a nice week.


  15. Matching football penalties to writing mistakes is perfect. Great post, Dan! Why do you call your tree a bellwether? Does it mean because you use it to show the weather at different times?

    Liked by 1 person

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