Neither writer nor editor knows grammar

If you’re a professional writer, you might be able to get away with poor grammar — if you have the services of a competent editor. But, if you write for the Yahoo! front page, don’t count on it:

fp neither know

Neither the writer nor the editor (assuming there is one) knows that the verb must agree with the noun closer to it when the subject is joined by neither…nor.

Either one

This is not the first time either a writer or an editor for Yahoo! Celebrity has made a grammatical error:

have omg

When the subject is two nouns joined by either…or, the verb must agree with the noun closer to it.

Either have or has is correct

Neither the writer nor the editor has addressed this incorrect verb on Yahoo! Music:

neither have music

When a subject consists of two nouns joined by the correlative conjunction neither…nor, the verb must agree with the noun closer to it.

Neither is correct

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:

neither or movies

and Yahoo! Sports:

neither or sports

No clue, no clue at all

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:

neither news

Anyone have a clue as to what this should be? Anyone?

Neither was looking

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:

neither look 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).

Not only bad

This sentence on the Yahoo! front page is so bad that I can’t imagine how anyone would think it passes muster:

fp not only but

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.

Neither that or this isn’t right

From Yahoo! Sports‘ “Ball Don’t Lie”:

anxiety sports 1

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:

anxiety sports 2

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:

anxiety sports 3

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 is correct

Neither the editor nor the writer was correct when choosing this verb on Yahoo! Finance:

neither were news

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.

You don’t really need to know

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):

drunk news 1

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:

drunk news 2

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:

drunk news 3

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:

drunk news 4

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:

drunk news 5

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.

or:

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.

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