One big ass mistake America.

I'm thinking it should be:

One big ass mistake, America.

  • 8
    One big ass-mistake America. Source: xkcd.com/37
    – Ophiuroid
    Commented Oct 21, 2010 at 6:08
  • 1
    "A large donkey-error America" -- I like it, Ophiuroid :-) Commented Oct 21, 2010 at 8:40
  • The Russian czar once wrote "Pardon not, to Siberia", and his minister who knew that the czar was weak on punctuation corrected him: "Pardon, not to Siberia".
    – malach
    Commented Oct 22, 2010 at 12:30
  • 1
    @Ralph: never heard of that one, and a few quick Google/Yandex/Rambler searches do not return anything useful. There is, however, a similar (and extremely common) phrase that is used to teach Russian children punctuation: казнить нельзя помиловать. Depending on where you place the comma, you either get казнить, нельзя помиловать ("execute, do not pardon") or казнить нельзя, помиловать ("execute do not, pardon"). Anyhow, I am not aware of any actual czar ever writing that, only czars in Soviet-era fairy-tale movies do it every now and then.
    – RegDwigнt
    Commented Dec 20, 2010 at 13:01
  • 1
    @regDwight - Si non è vero, è ben trovato. I heard it in German, and it might well go back to the phrase you know.
    – malach
    Commented Dec 20, 2010 at 15:50

3 Answers 3


There should be a hyphen between big and ass, as the two words together form an adjective, applied to mistake. (See also Ophiuroid’s comment referring to xkcd).

There should certainly be something before America; I agree with Boofus’s answer on that issue.


How it should be punctuated depends on the message. If one is telling America that it has made a big ass mistake, it should have the comma. If one is saying that America is one big ass mistake (perhaps one is British), a colon would probably be best.

One big ass mistake: America.

  • 3
    Perhaps if one were British, one might spell it 'arse'. Commented Oct 23, 2010 at 12:44
  • 2
    @Brian Hooper: One likely would. Does anyone else spell it "ass" or is it only Americans? Does anyone know a website where I could ask that? Commented Oct 23, 2010 at 23:21
  • is donkey synonymous with arse? Arse has ass' component of the buttocks, but not the donkey. Would not "ass" be a wholly separate word?
    – mfg
    Commented Oct 27, 2010 at 18:29
  • 1
    The context of the question was its meaning as buttocks. I don't believe anyone uses "arse" to mean a donkey (though this site has taught me not to be sure about any of my beliefs about usage). Commented Oct 27, 2010 at 21:22

If you're addressing America, the comma before the name is necessary.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.