A fatal mistake

Whether they’re trying to spell prix fixe, trompe l’oeil, or coup d’état, if the word is French (even if it’s well-established in the English-speaking world), Yahoo! writers are sure to screw it up. This time I’m indebted to Yahoo! Celebrity for showing us that some writers can’t quite get it right:

femme fatales omg

The expression femme fatale is composed of two French words: femme for woman and fatale for deadly. As is common in French, the adjective must match the noun it modifies in number (that is, if the noun is plural, the adjective is, too). So the plural of femme fatale is femmes fatales — both words get an S. De rien.

Their what?

What faced foreclosure? I’m reading this on the Yahoo! front page and can’t figure out if the DeCesare’s dog faced foreclosure or something else faced foreclosure:

fp plural apost

I guess there’s another possibility: The writers for yahoo.com don’t know how to form the plural of a name. If the name doesn’t end in S, you form the plural by adding an S, not an apostrophe and an S.

Uncommon phenomena

Here’s what happens when you try to use fancy words without heading to a dictionary first: You can look as foolish and pretentious as the writer for Yahoo! Shine who pounded out this:

phenomena shine

If the writer really meant a single occurrence or event, she should have used phenomenon, which is singular. Its plural is phenomena (although some dictionaries allow phenomenons in informal, nonscientific writing). It’s like criteria (the plural of criterion) and automata (the plural of automaton, though automatons is also acceptable).

Also, if you don’t know if a word like, um, say, maybe normcore is a proper noun and you decide to treat it both with and without a capital letter, you look more than foolish — you look careless and a bit dim.

SEALs the deal

It looks like two people wrote this teaser on the Yahoo! front page and they couldn’t agree on the plural of SEAL:

fp seals

A SEAL is a member of the United States Navy’s Sea, Air, and Land team. The plural, according to the U.S. Navy’s website, is SEALs.

Hanging out with the Bates

The only way this sentence on the home page Yahoo! TV makes sense is if the family’s name is Bate:

bates tv

But it’s not. The family’s surname is Bates. If you hang with them, you hang with the Bateses. (Since Bateses is a little difficult to decipher — even though it is the correct plural — a better solution might be to use “the Bates family.”)

Just don’t use it

If you’re unsure how to use an apostrophe, just don’t use it. If you’re wrong, you’ll look as ill-educated as the folks at Yahoo!.

You wouldn’t want to make the mistake of putting the apostrophe in the wrong place (as it is here on yahoo.com), would you?

fp 80s apost

If you don’t know that the apostrophe goes first (in ’80s) to show the omission of the 19, then don’t use one.

You’ll just embarrass yourself if you think you can form the plural of a noun with an apostrophe like this gaffe from Yahoo! News:

indians apost news

and this one from Yahoo! Movies:

coens apost movies

And I would be embarrassed for you if you used an apostrophe in a verb that isn’t a contraction:

celebrates apost news

Unsure about your punctuation abilities? Get some help. Just don’t ask anyone who works for Yahoo! for advice.

I’m not a doctor

I’m not a doctor — I don’t even play one on TV — but I know enough about human anatomy to question this claim on Yahoo! Sports:

vertebrae sports

I didn’t recognize the term dorsal vertebrae because the current term is thoracic vertebrae. The term dorsal vertebrae has been obsolete for a long, long time. (If you want to be nitpicky, all vertebrae are dorsal since the term refers to the back.)

Anyhoo, I guess we shouldn’t expect a sports writer to be concerned about such things, although I would expect an editor to know the difference between a singular and a plural noun. I don’t know much about Latin, but I know enough to recognize that vertebrae is the plural of vertebra.

The ’50s called…

… they want their apostrophe back:

50s apost

The folks from the ’50s know that the apostrophe isn’t used to show a plural, but it can be used to indicate an omission of numbers. The folks from the ’50s know more than the folks from Yahoo! Shine.

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.

This one’s not good

Someone on staff at Yahoo! Shine should have proofread this article for errors and taken a look back at the ones that are there — like this:

tips 1

There seems to be something missing here (maybe the writer meant “a St. Louis bartender from St. Louis…”) or there’s an extra word:

tips 2

A man named Devin Barnes was a forward (did he play basketball?), or was forward (did he get fresh with the waitress?), or maybe just came forward:

tips 3

Did the bartender try to return the winning ticket? It’s up to you to supply the missing verb:

tips 4

Well, it looks like this excerpt has all the words necessary for a complete sentence. A complete sentence, but not an accurate sentence. The gal in question is Dayna Morales:

tips 5danya morales shine

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