Common Errors in Written English: Save Big!

Save Big!

by Owen Fourie

Save Big!” is correct. Many would disagree, but it is right.

Somewhere in the American Midwest, the campaign is growing by leaps and bounds. Big must be saved.

The enormous pig known as Big is under threat from the authorities because it snapped at the outstretched hand of an inquisitive boy.

Dangerous tendency

Officials believe that this indicates a dangerous tendency in the beast that could result in mortal injury to other children. “The pig,” they say, “must be put down.”

Owner Ima Hogg is livid. “We have to save Big,” she says. “He is part of our family, and he would not harm a mange mite.”

Save Big!” is the cry echoing far and wide over the plains of the Midwest at every sty and every trough.


Unfortunately, some confusion has crept in from money-minded sales people and advertisers.

Save Big!” say the billboards. “Save Big!” we hear on radio and see on television, and it has nothing to do with the campaign to save a dear pig.

It has everything to do with the mattress of your dreams and all sorts of other goods.

Something went wrong. From an innocent campaign to save a guiltless porcine pet, the battle cry has been taken over and misused in a glaring disregard of good grammar to make a quick sale.

Save Big!” in any context other than the campaign to save Big the pig, is simply bad grammar.

Save how much?

Ordinarily, the word big is an adjective describing the size of something. It modifies a noun: big pig.

In the phrase “save big,” there is no noun. There is only the verb save and the adjective big which is being misused to modify the verb – something an adjective cannot do. That is the function of an adverb, and big is not an adverb.

Save what? Save Big the Pig.

Save how or how much? Save greatly, save enormously, if adverbs are used.

Save what? Save a great deal, if an adjective and a noun will do.

In the meantime, will Big be saved, or will the campaign be hamstrung by bad grammar in other quarters?

Note: All characters, whether human or porcine, in the above account are entirely fictitious.

What other corruptions or incorrect usages are you aware of in advertising? Your comments, observations, and questions are welcome.

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