Guaranteed to improve your English

Too Bad This Offer Isn’t Genuine

I received the following email:

Dear Friend ,

If this message intrude into your privacy or cause you any 
inconvenience, I sincerely apologize as that's not the intended 

I am one of the senior staff of Emirates Development Bank, here 
in ABU DHABI, UAE. We have an amount of money to the tune of five 
hundred million United State dollars (US$500,000.000.) only, 
floating in our Bank that we can re-profile for our mutual 
benefit, if you agree to cooperate with me. This is just between 
You and me, and we can split the fund in the ratio of 50/50%, as 
I do not want to be greedy. You will be the recipient and I will 
show you how we can execute the transaction successfully. There 
is no risk involved and it will be a hitch-free transaction.

If you want to work with me, kindly indicate your interest to do 
so and I will give you the details. This is strictly confidential 
and must not be disclosed to a third party please. For further 
correspondence, Kindly and urgently reply to my private email as 

My Regards,

Abdul Al Fahim

This couldn’t come at a more frustrating time. I’m having money problems, so I really wish there was somebody out there willing to share $500 million dollars. But I know it’s not the case because I don’t believe anybody really reaches out randomly on a email list. Plus, I think what he’s asking to do, split money that seems to belong to the bank, is criminal.


  1. There’s a space after the comma in the greeting.
  2. There’s a bad space in the first paragraph.
  3. Nobody who speaks English as a first language would write “$500,000.000.”
  4. The name of the country is United States.
  5. There’s a space missing between “US” and the dollar amount.
  6. “You” is improperly capitalized.
  7. Nobody who speaks English as a first language would write “50/50%.”
  8. There’s a bad break in the last paragraph, making me think that there should have been a period after “confidential.”
  9. “Kindly” is improperly capitalized.

Also, please, nobody contact that email address.

Until next time! Use the right words!

April 27, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

(this headline intentionally written all lower case)

I received the following email:

this is mark fish i come back here in the state and i ask of your fund $4.8 and the home land security told me that is still in there office and i need to inform you if you still need in just emaill me your new address now for the urgent delivery
thank mark fish
call me or text (404­448­2­27­3

Although the name is Mark Fish (I’ll capitalize it correctly, thank you), the email address is from an A. Rodriguez, and it ends “.mx,” making it from Mexico. Maybe it was also written by somebody who speaks Spanish as a first language — the person certainly doesn’t speak English as a first language.

I counted 21 errors.

Also, please, nobody call or text that number.

Until next time! Use the right words!

April 25, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Better Written But Still Spam

I received the following (obviously) spam email. I usually point out how poorly written these emails are and how they’re clearly not written by someone with command of English, but this one is different. As best I can tell, there are only punctuation problems.

Dear valued member,

It has been a very long time since I emailed you about a rare investment opportunity.

You signed up to my newsletter because you were seeking to only invest in companies
which I can guarantee will go up and I only email you when I know one will.

The last stock I told you to buy went up about 1000% and this next one is guaranteed
a solid 1300% keep on reading to find out why.

INCT (incapta inc) is a drone-maker with proprietary algorithms which essentially
bring drones to life. These algorithms give the drones the capability to act
independent of a physical operator.

Because of they own this amazing technology which they developed in house, they have
been receiving huge attention from the US Army as well as several private firms
including DJI and Amazon.

A guy I work with at a mergers and acquisition firm in New York told me that INCT is
about to be bought out for $1.37 per share on Tuesday or Wednesday of next week. He
has always come through for me.

While INCT may currently seem stagnant, that?s because very few people know about
this imminent deal so don’t let that fool you.

I don’t expect the stock price to swing much in either direction until the takeover
is announced next week, at which point it will shoot up to around $1.37 overnight.

You know what to do if you want to profit when this happens.

Keep it on the hush, but do act quickly.

Best Regards,
Katheryn White

First of all, I didn’t sign up for any newsletter. You got my email address from someone else.

Secondly, and this is important: I received this exact email three times from three different names and email addresses: White (, Abe Ferguson ( and Hassan Whitaker (

I include the names and email addresses as a public service. Now, you can know that should you receive anything from these “people” and these email addresses, you’ll know to ignore them at least and report them at best.

You’re welcome.

Until next time! Use the right words!

March 23, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How Doth it Scam? Let Me Count the Ways

Dear Email Spammer/Scammer:

If you want to gain my trust/attention/money, you’re going to have to do better than this. The mistakes are so numerous as to strain belief (these are like “alternative facts,” which I’m sure you don’t understand). Still, I will point out a few in the hopes that maybe you’ll see how ridiculous you are.

  1. It’s not addressed to anyone, unless someone you know is called “Dear.”
  2. The name is spelled two different ways.
  3. It’s missing numerous commas, at least one period, and twice there isn’t space between words when there should be.
  4. “resident London?”
  5. The cancer is unnecessarily capitalized.
  6. If you’re really an American citizen, why do you write about making donations in my country? My country is your country.
  7. Nobody I know writes “crave your indulgence.”
  8. Emphasize not “emphasis.”
  9. “Sincerity” is unnecessarily capitalized.
  10. “Inasmuch” is one word, not three.
  11. “reaching out you?”
  12. “Charity” is unnecessarily capitalized.
  13. “someone” is one word, not two.
  14. No one I know says “luxury of time.” They just say “time.”
  15. You obviously haven’t heard the term “burying the lead.” This is where you put the most important part down in your letter. In your case, you buried the lead about as far down as possible because $7.5 million (note how I wrote that) and how you want assistance in giving it away is the point of this email.

Dear ,

I am Wilson Ben an American citizen but resident London where I am currently
hospitalized for treatment of Esophageal cancer and therefore, in need of your
assistance. I intend to make donations to the poor and less privileged in your
country as a matter of urgency and utmost importance to me and hereby crave your
indulgence to read this letter with with all seriousness and the desired attention
that it requires

I wish to emphasis that this proposed project is based on absolute trust, integrity
and Sincerity of purpose in order to have a consensus of like minds.

In as much as I would not completely rule out the possibility of doubts in your
heart in respect of this letter as a result of the activities of internet fraudsters
which has made genuine and legitimate businesses a bit cumbersome,I will
nevertheless, implore you to consider this piece as about my only way of reaching
out you with a view to making you a potential partner.

At the moment, I do not have much hope as I have lost my voice already and think it
is prudent that I begin to make arrangement for the management of my estate as I
have no children to survive me or inherit my estate. It is my plan to give out my
estate to Charity and I am looking for some one to assist me do this hence this
mail.It is hoped that you partner with me on this. I would appreciate a response as
I do not have the luxury of time. The amount involved is USD 7.5 Million dollars.

Best Regards,

Willson Ben

Conclusion: English is not your first language, and unless you’re trying to scam people whose English is like yours, you don’t have much of a chance to meet your objectives.

Move along.

Until next time! Use the right words!

February 7, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Commonly Misused Words

My wife sent me something on Facebook from a Harvard professor named Steven Pinker, who lists commonly misused words. Although the article, from Business Insider, is dated Dec. 17, 2015, it is nonetheless accurate to today.

Here are eight, which include some I’ve misused.

Adverse means “detrimental” and does not mean averse (“having a strong feeling of opposition) or disinclined (“lacking desire or willingness).

Begs the question means “assumes what it should be proving,” not “raises the question.” This is one I would misuse if I used it, but I don’t use it because it’s a cliché and I believe you should avoid clichés like the plague.

Speaking of which, Cliché is a noun, not an adjective. The adjective is clichéd.

Bemused means “bewildered.” It does not mean amused (“pleasurably entertained”)

Hung means “suspended.” It does not mean “suspended from the neck until dead.” That is hang.

Ironic means “uncannily incongruent.” It does not mean inconvenient (“no easily accessible; untimely; not suiting one’s needs”)  or unfortunate (“suffering from bad luck; unfavorable; regrettable; marked by misfortune; sad”). Not is irony coincidence (“something that occurs by chance”).

Nonplussed means “stunned” or “bewildered.” It does not mean bored (“made weary by dullness, tedious repetition, unwelcome attentions,etc.”) or unimpressed (“not affected deeply or strongly in mind or feelings”). This is one I have misused.

Phenomena is a plural noun. The singular is phenomenon. Phenomenons is incorrect.

Until next time! Use the right words!

January 17, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Is it Really “Alright/All Right?”

As I completed my gym workout,  I spilled water from my bottle onto the floor. There was enough water to make a square yard-sized puddle.

I did my best to sop it up with paper towels, and then I told the woman at the front desk that I spilled water in the stretching area and it’s not completely dry.

Her response: “That’s alright.”

As I walked to my car, I thought, No, it’s not alright, or all right. I made a mess and possibly jeopardized the safety of some other gym patron. If it really was all right (or alright, the adverb form of all right), everything would be all right, and jeopardizing the safety is not all right (or alright).

We use terms, including alright/all right, too casually without considering what the words mean. To make sure, I looked up all right.

It is informal speech meaning, “agreeable, acceptable, or commendable.”

I find it hard to believe that my gym would agree or accept my puddle; similarly, why would I be commended for leaving a puddle? About the only commendable act was my informing the woman that there was a puddle.

The more appropriate response would have been: “Thank you for telling me.”

Once the staff cleaned the puddle, or once it dried, then everything would be alright.

Or all right.

Until next time! Use the right words!

November 15, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Another One?

I’m thinking my next book ought to be a collection of emails that clearly are scams because the writer (writers?) obviously don’t speak English as a first language.

I’ll be honest: I didn’t even bother counting the mistakes.

Attn: Beneficiary,

I am Mr Jimmy West,the director of Diamond Bank Benin. This is to

bring to your notice that my office has taking over all the money

Transaction originated from any part of African/ Europe and Asia

counties etc. as Contract payment,Fund inheritance or Lottery

Winning due to Unauthorized/incapability of financial

Institutions/security companies In releasing such huge sum of

money due to Fraud,

terrorist and money Laundry activities going on world wide.

The World Bank Group has Mandated the Diamond Bank Benin via my

Office to release funds to beneficiaries through Cash delivery, Hence

Your Name appears as one of The fund beneficiaries whom their

fund was successfully cleared recently From Terrorist and Money laundry

and your money will be released to you Through International

Cashier’s Bank Draft that will be cash able from any

International Bank in your country or cash delivery been the only way you would

receive Your money to avoid paying excess charges.

As regard to this arrangement,you are advised to contact the

telex director DR. SHITU ABUBAKAR through his direct line

0022967901883 Contact DR. SHITU ABUBAKAR with the contact

information below. Telex director Diamond bank Benin.


DIRECT TEL: 0022967901883

You are therefore advised to forward your direct telephone

numbers, Your complete name and your house address to DR. SHITU

ABUBAKAR for Immediate release of your fund to you Most importantly be

aware that ($3.5Million Dollars) Only was allocated to you,

Be also informed that the Fund Approvals and authorization

document Including Anti-terrorist Clearance Certificate was

issued in your name and has been handed over to DR.SHITU ABUBAKAR to

release to you.

Finally,DR.SHITU ABUBAKAR is standby to receive your

communication and Release your fund to you through Cash

delivery without further


Make your contact directly to him through Email contact any time

because we are working 24 Hours to be able to meet with the

mandate given by the World Bank,

Thanks for your maximum

cooperation. Mr Jimmy West


Until next time! Use the right words!

November 3, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I Won the Lottery … Again?

I think that so much identity theft online is due to people responding to emails such as the one below. How can anyone really believe something with this many errors (I lost count after 50) is legitimate? It’s one of many online scams obviously been written by someone whose first language isn’t English.

Dear Beneficiary

This is Oregon Lottery Department, We are writing to officially inform you about
the ongoing free award given prize from Oregon US Lottery Online Promotions. Email
Belong to the said beneficiary have been selected as one of our lucky online participant to partake in this free giving online promotion Award.

Below is the prize description and more information about this Prize given to you.
Please read carefully from beginning to end and treat genuinely.

Description prize;

$800,000 USD

Please Note: There are online Lottery Scam that can be found on the Internet such
as BMW Lottery Scam, which you can easily search on google. Our Company(Oregon
Lottery) have never been recognized as one the partakers of Online Lottery Scam.
Please search the Internet for confirmation if you have any doubts.

As a proof of our legitimacy we have a confirmation of a participant who won the
sum of $6,400,000 from Iraq and due to security reason, he pleaded for his name not
to be revealed on the Internet.

We provided the link so you can make confirmation by yourself and for you to know
we are well verified.

This lottery selection process was carried out through random selection in our
computerized email selection system (ESS) from a database of over 10,000 email
addresses drawn out from USA and Canada, your email appear to be among the lucky winners, this is the reason we contacted you.

Our Lottery Organization was also confirmed by Prof. I. Nelson Rose the eminent
professor of law at the Whittier Law School in California that Oregon Lottery
method of providing Online tickets and free award to beneficiaries around the globe
to lottery participants is (100%) Legitimate.

The Oregon Lottery is approved by the British Gaming Board and also Licensed by the
International Association of Gaming Regulators (IAGR).

To begin the processing of your prize you are to contact your fiduciary agent
assigned for you with her information below and she would be providing you her ID
for verification of her Identity before proceeding on delivering your prize.

Name: Eileen Benko
Work uslotydepartment@gmail
State: Florida
Country: USA
State of Residence: Oregon
Occupation: Fiduciary Agent

Due to Online Frauds and to prevent a third party from getting your winnings and
prize, We have provided a little security check that will enable us confirm we are
in contact with the real owner of this email. Please Provide your Fiduciary agent your winner ID and also the following information needed below for security check.

Oregon : 466125AGDY02/13.


Full Name:
Direct Mobile Number:

This would enable her give you the next required step in completing this
transaction and delivering your prize to you successfully.

Congratulations once again,

FINAL NOTE: Replying this email with your winner ID and information?s required
would take you straight to your Fiduciary Agent automatically. Always know you are
replying to her directly.

Mr. Barry Pack

For the record, I have won lotteries in Oregon, Nigeria, the United Kingdom and the United Nations, which as far as I know, doesn’t have a lottery.

Until next time! Use the right words!

It’s here! My début book, “If You Experience Death, Please Call: And Other Fatal Mistakes We Make With Language” is available on Amazon for only $14.95.  Order here.

September 29, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What Does G-H-O-T-I Spell?

A friend of mine posed this question to me last week. He probably didn’t make it up; it’s probably on the Internet somewhere. But it demonstrates how strange English can be.

To answer the question, one must ask these three questions:

What sound does the gh make in enough? 

What sound does the o make in women?

What sound does the ti make in nation?

The answers: F, I and SH.


Until next time! Use the right words!

It’s here! My début book, “If You Experience Death, Please Call: And Other Fatal Mistakes We Make With Language” is out and available on Amazon. Order now for just $14.95. Contact me on my website to reserve your copy or Order here.

April 7, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment