Which is proper grammar: “Ice possible drive with care” or “possible ice drive with caution”?

  • Thank you! I know the puncuation is needed, I was in a hurry. – user4559 Feb 4 '11 at 5:40
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    As you can see from the answers so far, it's not quite clear what context we're talking about. Could you please clarify? – RegDwigнt Feb 4 '11 at 10:59
  • The screen in my car says "ice possible drive with care" and my friends says "possible ice drive with caution". No puncuation is used in either. She said my car didn't use proper grammar and I was just seeing which was the best way to write it. – user4559 Feb 4 '11 at 15:58

As written, neither version is OK. They both require some punctuation.

Ice possible - drive with care


Possible ice - drive with caution

Of these, the first is probably better.

As has been noted, my answer assumes that this is a road sign, where brevity and clarity are paramount. For a road sign, the most important word is 'ice'; the rest is less important. That is another argument for the first version above.

If you are writing running text, then you need to do more work, such as:

The road may be icy; drive with care.

You could use a dash instead of a semi-colon. You could write 'caution' instead of 'care'. You could even treat it as two sentences:

The road may be icy. Drive with care!

  • To expand on this, the first is better because it cuts right to the chase. By the time you've read past "possible", it might be too late. – RegDwigнt Feb 4 '11 at 10:01
  • The question is about proper grammar. Why would ice possible be proper grammar? – kiamlaluno Feb 4 '11 at 10:34

Jonathan Leffler's answer is great for a road sign. For standard written English, though, you need a verb:

Ice is possible: drive with care.


Risk of ice - drive with caution.


If this were a letter to someone I'd say "Drive with care, there might be ice", or similar.

But it sounds like a road sign text... I don't understand why the English speaking world is so fond of textual road signs. In Norway and most of continental Europe, symbols is used for almost all types of warning signs. Texts is reserved for directions to place names, and some extra information on warning signs, etc. It's a lot easier to see a standardized symbol, than reading a text that may not be consistently written.

In Norway ice is always a possibility in the winter, but if the road is especially likely of causing slippery conditions we use this sign http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Fareskilt_15.PNG

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