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Today’s grammar tidbit is all about competition, and what better example of that than the upcoming Super Bowl XLVII, played in New Orleans, LA, on February 3, 2013.

Walt Disney Corp.

Walt Disney Corp.

We’ll soon be in the middle of the playoffs; as things heat up, the ensuing frenzy can cause egregious lapses in grammar. These things happen!

Our grammar “oops” today comes courtesy of a reader. It seems this delightful lady was in the company of a man who was quite excited about the December 16th, 2012 football game, when the Green Bay Packers faced their rivals, the Chicago Bears. In a moment of breathless anticipation, this man uttered the fateful line:

“I hope the Packers win the Bears.”

Our friend winced; the grammar goof hung between them like a stinky cloud.

So what, you ask, is the difference between “win” and “beat”?

When it’s used to refer to sports, “beat” focuses on the act of defeating an opponent. It leaves us knowing that one team won, while the other team lost.

“Beat” also needs an object – there must be an opponent to be beaten.

Like this:



For the second year in a row, Merwyn beat the competition, handily winning the World Bog Snorkeling Championship with a time of 84 seconds.

“Winning” focuses on the victor; it doesn’t really concern itself with the person or team who lost.

Like this:

Reuben worked on his technique for months, and was ecstatic to learn that he won the freestyle portion of the Mobile Phone Throwing Contest.

ChickenFootballHelmetI hope that clears the air for our friend and her football fan companion! It helped that the Packers won that game, 21-13. If they’re headed for the Super Bowl, we certainly hope they beat the competition!

Winner, winner, chicken dinner!