Laying it out in black and white

Let’s lay this out in black and white for the Yahoo! Celebrity writer: If you don’t know that fiancé is an engaged man (and fiancée is an engaged woman), perhaps you should refer to the man as betrothed. Or maybe boyfriend:

simpson omg 1

If you’re using it as an adjective, then black-and-white gets two hyphens. (As a noun, it doesn’t need those hyphens.)

So, Jessica Simpson posted a black-and-white photo on Instagram. Is it any surprise that it looked like she was wearing a black and white dress? (I really don’t know how the writer could tell what color the dress was.) Repeating a word isn’t the worst mistake a writer can make, but claiming she “was laid out” makes it sound like the poor woman was prepared for a funeral, not a wedding:

simpson omg 2

Finally, the writer alleges that her hand was “placed seductively over her eyebrow.” Unless her eyebrow is somewhere on the top of her head, I think the writer made a misstatement:

simpson omg 3

What you encounter on Yahoo

Here are two things you might encounter on yahoo.com: an apparent typo and an incorrect punctuation mark:

fp enounter

What’s going on at Yahoo?

There’s something really weird going on at yahoo.com. The number of bone-headed mistakes on that page has exploded. Is it a new writing staff? A bunch of interns hired for the summer? Outsourcing to a non-English-speaking country? Here’s just some of the things spotted on today’s Yahoo! front page.

If the marathon you’re writing about is in Boston, it’s the Boston Marathon (with a big M). That’s not the only thing I’d quibble about, though. I can’t say I agree with the statement that “retrievers are used to distract” people. There are many, many documented benefits to petting a dog, including lowering blood pressure:

fp marathon

Here’s a use of chide that’s new to me: It’s used as a transitive verb (meaning it has a direct object, in this case decision), so it means “to reprimand or scold mildly.” I don’t think anyone was chiding the decision — the person who made the decision, maybe was chided.

fp chided

Ah, the old subject-verb disagreement. There can’t be any disagreement that the subject is tenor and the verb should be is. Also, there’s that dangling modifier at the beginning of the sentence, which appears to modify tenor (which makes no sense), though it likely should modify the writing on the boat:

fp tenor are

OK, here’s a mystery for you: What was Iran stockpiling? Government cheese? This doesn’t contain a grammatical or spelling error. This is what is known as an error of omission: It tells you nothing.

fp stockpile

I almost spit out my sugar-free, nonfat vanilla latte when I read this:

fp cafe

The name of that café is a mouthful, n’est-ce pas? The hilarity continues when you realize that the poor French-challenged writer has mashed up Café de Flore and Les Deux Magots.

If you’re reading something online right now (and I think you are), then according to Yahoo!, that is the reason you procrastinate. It is not what you do when you procrastinate, it is the cause of the procrastination. Good to know.

fp procrastinate

Here’s one you can disagree with, but according to the American Heritage Dictionary, the preferred spelling in the U.S. is disk:

fp disc

And we’re back to that old bugaboo — matching a subject (series) with its verb (hint: it shouldn’t be show):

fp series show

Finally, there’s another preferred spelling: light-years (with a hyphen):

fp light years

Whew! That’s all for now. And by that I mean, I’m going to go get two Advils and lie down.

Do you feel bad about your grammar?

The writer for Yahoo! Shine shouldn’t feel bad about herself for making this mistake — a lot of people (especially if they write for Yahoo!) make the same grammatical goof:

feel badly

As I’ve said before: If you’re trying to pick out a ripe peach by gently squeezing the fruit, but you’re wearing oven mitts, you might feel badly. If your emotional state is sad, depressed, anxious, or unhappy, you might feel bad.

Let’s relegate that to the language dumpster

Let’s relegate the use of a hyphen after an adverb ending in -LY  to the Grammar Slammer. While we’re at it, let’s make a citizen’s arrest and haul in the Yahoo! Shine writer who also thinks that delegating is the right word:

delegating shine

I had never heard (or read) anyone use delegate when relegate was the word that was called for — until I started reading Yahoo!. Relegate means “to assign to an obscure place, position, or condition.” Delegate means “to commit or entrust to another.”

Just don’t use it, part deux

Last week I urged the writers at Yahoo! to just give up on the apostrophe. They have no idea when to use it, and their sad attempts at punctuation just make them look like amateurs. Well, I’m here to urge at least one writer for yahoo.com to give the hyphen the boot. Someone has no idea when to use it, sprinkling it willy-nilly about, as if it were rice at a wedding:

fp recently-deceased clarissa

The common mistake (common throughout Yahoo!, that is) of putting a hyphen between an adverb ending in -LY and the word it modifies is almost forgivable (almost, but not completely). What’s unforgivable is throwing that horizon character in someone’s name, especially someone as well-known as Clarissa Dickson Wright. Why on God’s green earth would anyone arbitrarily hyphenate someone’s name?

Is your writing bulletproof?

Is your writing bulletproof and impervious to criticism? If you’re a writer for yahoo.com, the answer is probably “Heck no!” You probably didn’t notice when you wrote this that you implied that armed men were from a chapel and that a church spoke:

fp bullet proof

You might want to reconsider the placement of those prepositional phrases.

Unfortunately this isn’t rarely seen

It’s a common error on yahoo.com — and throughout Yahoo! where its writers and editors lurk — but I wish it were rarely seen:

fp rarely-seen pix

That hyphen joining the adverb rarely and the adjective that follows it is a problem. It’s just unnecessary and wrong.  Just as it is here, too:

fp newly-engaged

When an adverb ending in -LY is followed by an adjective, there’s no need for the hyphen; the -LY is the signal to the reader that the adverb modifies the word that follows it.

Not rarely seen

Unfortunately, it’s an all-too-common error on Yahoo!: The use of a hyphen to join an adverb ending in -LY with the word it modifies. It’s unnecessary and it’s wrong.

It’s wrong on the Yahoo! front page:

rarely-seen

and on Yahoo! News:

newly-elected news

and Yahoo! TV:

publicly-voted music tv

Not exactly picture-perfect headline

The writer for Yahoo! Sports’ “Prep Rally” didn’t pull off a picture-perfect headline for a story about 5-year-olds:

picture perfect

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