A no-nonsense look at writing

After reading the scribblings of Yahoo! writers and editors for years, few mistakes surprise me. But here are two that I’ve never seen before and hope to never see again:

themself diy

From Yahoo! DIY we get the nonsense that should be no-nonsense and the inscrutable themself. Really? The writer couldn’t figure out the plural themselves? In all the horrible, terrible, no good writing I’ve come across, I’ve never, ever seen a themself. Never.

I should have stopped reading

I shouldn’t have read more than this headline on Yahoo! Style:

our stories 1

I should have known that if the headline contains one humongous goof, the article itself is going to be a disaster. The huge mistake in the headline? The article is about a retailer called & Other Stories. How bad is that? Bad. But it gets worse.

At least in the opening paragraph, the writer manages to use the correct words for the retailer, though she does close up the space after the ampersand:

our stories 2

But she drops the the in what should be “in the U.S.” and the hyphen that’s required in brand-new. Maybe the writer is a recent arrival to the States and doesn’t realize that it’s capitalized when referring to the United States.

When it’s a noun or an adjective, must-have must have a hyphen:

our stories 3

This could be a simple typo (names instead of named), but the use of the pronoun their without any known antecedent is just wrong:

our stories 4

How do you explain the misspelling of a product when it appears below a picture of the product?

our stories 5

The final sentence of the article doesn’t disappoint: One hardly ever sees the use of a plural verb with the singular everything:

our stories 6

That was not good. I knew when I read the headline I should have stopped reading. My bad.

Not even trying

Ah, geez. This writer came up with one stinking little paragraph and she can’t even get the name of the product right? She’s not even trying:

fendi peekaboo

The bag is called the Peekaboo — without any of those hyphens. It’s downright (notice it’s one word?) crazy that the writer would insert them. I can forgive her for referring to an object as she, although it strikes me as both amateurish and juvenile. But then she tries to construct a sentence that is pure nonsense and seems to think navy is a synonym for midnight blue. It isn’t and the claim that “her navy is also .. midnight blue” just makes no sense.

A writer’s influence on their readers

It shouldn’t be surprising that when people starting using they, their, and them to refer to an individual whose gender was unknown to the writer that there would come a time that those pronouns would be used for an individual whose gender was apparent. That time has come and the place is Yahoo! Style:

their daughters

Did the writer use their instead of her because she didn’t know the mother was a female or because the writer didn’t know that a pronoun should agree with its antecedent?

Me and my dog were appalled

Holy Milk Bone! Even my dog Millie would know that this is a giant grammatical gaffe on Yahoo! Answers:

me and my dog answers

If the writer had said that in front of my mother, he or she would have gotten a smack upside the head. She taught me and all my siblings that you never put yourself first. If the writer had put my dog first, then it would be obvious that the correct pronoun is I, not me: my dog and I were. At least I hope it would be obvious.

Take a critical look these errors

Behold the errors from Yahoo! Movies:

ic truck movies

There’s no shortage of creativity when it comes to hyphen usage. These folks can’t decide if it’s “ice cream truck” or “ice-cream truck” or the truly original “ice cream-truck.”

Not confined by the rules of grammar, the writer seems to think it’s okie-dokie to use the plural pronouns them and they to refer to the singular truck. It’s not.

And if you take a critical look at this paragraph you might spot another goof: A missing word.

Lightening the load

After I got over my horror at seeing the pronoun it used to refer to the plural planes, I thought I was more or less immune to the writing mistakes I was sure to find in this article on Yahoo! Travel:

lightening travel

But I was wrong. I’m appalled that a professional writer thinks that lightening is something that can strike a plane. It is not. It is the act of making a plane lighter. The scary stuff in the sky is lightning.

Whom just seems wrong

If you’re a conscientious writer who strives to be grammatically correct 100 percent of the time, but you still struggle with choosing between who and whom, take my advice: Choose who. If you’re wrong, 90 percent of your readers won’t know it and the rest won’t care. If you choose whom, you might be correct, but your writing will sound pretentious and stilted. And if you’re wrong, you might be mistaken for a writer for Yahoo! Shine:

whom had work shine

Could that sound any uglier? The correct word happens to be who, because the pronoun is the subject of the verb had. The pronoun who is the subjective case (and hence, the subject of verbs); whom is the objective case (and the object of verbs or prepositions).

Something I’ve never seen before. Almost

Here’s an unusual mistake on the Yahoo! front page:

fp of her

It’s unusual because everyone I know would use the reflexive pronoun herself in that sentence: She took a photo of herself. Most people have no idea why the reflexive is correct; they just know when to use it.

The reflexive pronouns all end in self or selves: myself, yourself, herself, ourselves and so on. You use it when someone does something to himself or herself (see what I did there?).

The only other time I’ve seen a non-reflexive pronoun used instead of the correct reflexive pronoun has been on … Wait for it… The Yahoo! front page:

fp her for herself

I wonder if the same person wrote both those sentences. And I wonder if that person’s native language is English. I’m guessin’ it isn’t.

Maybe Mitt Romney was right

When Mitt Romney claimed during his bid for the presidency that “corporations are people, too,” he was met with derision. But he may have been right, if you believe what you read on the Yahoo! front page:

fp who for that

The pronoun who is reserved for human beings. Is yahoo.com alleging that companies are people? Or did the writer fail to realize that the correct pronoun is that?

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