The word pair neither…nor is a correlative conjunction. They go together like peas and carrots, as Mr. Gump would say. Except on Yahoo! Movies:
and Yahoo! Sports:
Every once in a while, I read something on Yahoo! that I cannot decipher. I cannot parse the sentence. I cannot glean a scintilla of information. I cannot guess at what the writer was trying to say. And here is today’s WTF writing from Yahoo! News:
Anyone have a clue as to what this should be? Anyone?
What happens when neither the writer nor the editor looks for grammatical mistakes? You get a mismatch of subject and verb, like this on Yahoo! Sports:
When the subject is two nouns joined by neither…nor, the verb should agree with the noun closer to it. In this case, it’s singular (Miami) and the verb should be singular, too (looks).
This sentence on the Yahoo! front page is so bad that I can’t imagine how anyone would think it passes muster:
The pair not only… but also is a correlative conjunction. It joins two like items, such as two verbs or two clauses. It can’t be used to join verbs (like “straightens and reduces frizz”) and an independent clause.
It should be:
A $25 gadget not only straightens hair and reduces frizz, but also improves hair texture the more it’s used.
From Yahoo! Sports‘ “Ball Don’t Lie”:
What? You didn’t like that? You were expecting maybe an or following “either the Houston Rockets”? Me, too. But this is Yahoo! and correlative conjunctions like either…or are simply too complex for its writers. So, we forgive.
Yes, we forgive because clearly the correlative conjunctions like neither…nor are a profound and mysterious construction:
If the Einstein had used the word nor instead of or, this would have made some sense — not the sense the writer intended, but some sense. What the writer actually said with that double negative (neither and haven’t) is that both Daryl Morey and Sam Hinkie have commented blah, blah, blah. What he meant: Neither Morey nor Hinkie has commented…
So, there is a lot to be not on the writer’s side here, including this sentence:
Regular readers of Terribly Write will recognize the end of that sentence from a few days ago. Now we know where it came from.
Neither the editor nor the writer was correct when choosing this verb on Yahoo! Finance:
When a compound subject is joined by the correlative conjunction neither…nor, the verb must agree with the noun closer to it. In this case, that noun is Josie and the correct verb is singular, was.
Don’t you get insulted when a writer “talks down” to you? I know I do! I hate it when a writer uses a vocabulary that is so unsophisticated that even a rhesus monkey could understand it. I lose patience when the simplest terms are explained in excruciating detail. I can’t stand it when the writer has to torture the language just so it’s grammatically correct.
If you’re like me, then you’ll enjoy reading this article on Yahoo! News! This writer is so sure that you’re a member in good standing of Mensa that he doesn’t bother to insure that pronouns have actual antecedents (even if he knew what an antecedent was):
He knows you don’t care if he drops the hyphen from the name of a newspaper. (It’s the Press-Citizen, but who really cares?) When you read that 2 AM is in the morning, you know he didn’t include that redundancy for you:
It’s not often that you read something by a professional writer that contains a grammatical gaffe like the incorrect past tense of a common verb. OK, so it is often, if you’re reading an article by a Yahoo! employee and the article reads like the writer had drunk one too many Bud Lights:
But that’s OK! It’s just a verb and you knew what he meant, right? And the missing hyphen (again) in Press-Citizen is no biggie. And you don’t have to know what PBT stands for, unless you’re a serious alcoholic, then you already know it’s short for preliminary breath test.
Wouldn’t you want to read about Chad Harvey while enjoying a helpful picture of someone named Matt Harvey? I know I would. Perhaps Matt Harvey is Chad Harvey’s brother. Or father. Or uncle. Or next-door neighbor, who looks enough like Chad to stand in for him in the article:
The writer has enough confidence in your mental acuity that he doesn’t have to tell you what a BAC is. Heck, he doesn’t even have to form its plural correctly; he’s sure you won’t mind if he throws an apostrophe in there. (By the way, for you Mennonites and others who shun alcohol, BAC stands for blood alcohol content. Or Bank of America Corp.)
Finally, when you think things couldn’t get worse, the writer does not disappoint:
Imagine not knowing where to put the correlative conjunction not only…but also. Imagine not knowing that the partner of not only is but also. But you know that. You would have written:
to have survived not only driving while intoxicated, but also the punishment they inflicted on their bodies.
to not only survive driving while intoxicated, but also survive the punishment they inflicted on their bodies.
But writing grammatically correct sentences is just patronizing your readers.
It’s one boo-boo after another, courtesy of the writing genius at Yahoo! Shine:
I guess Yahoo! doesn’t include a spell-checker with the software that its writers use. Pity, because they could really benefit from some help. (A spell-checker would have caught the misspelled courtesy and the funky capitalization in HIgh.) Of course, a spell-checker couldn’t tell them how to spell Justin Lookadoo’s name. It wouldn’t tell the writer that the correlative conjunction both…and should be used to join parallel items: “both by what he said and by what…” or “by both what he said and what…”
Requiring writers to use a spell-checker wouldn’t solve all the problems in this one paragraph, but it would have solved a few. And requiring writers verify the spelling of names would have eliminated three misspellings. It’s a start.
OK, I don’t know how a professional writer doesn’t know that the partner of neither is nor, not or. But apparently this guy from Yahoo! Sports‘ “Prep Rally” doesn’t know that:
So, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised to see that he also doesn’t know that the verb think should be thinks, since it should agree with mother. (When two nouns are joined by neither… nor to form a subject, the verb must agree with the noun closer to it.)