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?

What’s wrong with her?

If you believe what you read on yahoo.com (and why would you?), then Charlize Theron’s outfit is the same as Anna Kendrick — not Anna Kendrick’s outfit, but Anna Kendrick herself:

fp her

Now, if Ms. Theron was in the same outfit as hers, then that would be a whole ‘nother thing. That would mean both women were in the same outfit.

This is a sorry excuse for writing

I’m sorry to say it, but it’s hard to believe that this article from Yahoo! Shine was produced by a professional writer. Heck, it’s hard to believe it was written by a middle school graduate.

There are a few minor problems, like needlessly capitalizing a word. “Sorry” doesn’t get a capital letter unless it’s at the start of a sentence or you’re writing about the board game:

sorry 1

This is a sorry attempt at making a possessive out of women:

sorry 2

(To form the possessive of a plural noun not ending in S, just add an apostrophe and S: women’s, men’s, children’s.)

Things get a little sorrier with an error-filled paragraph, which includes a subject-verb mismatch (the subject study takes the verb has identified):

sorry 3

A “verbal tick” sounds like a talking, bloodsucking arachnid. If the writer meant an idiosyncratic and habitual behavior, that would be a tic. Then there’s the issue of the pronoun they, which has no antecedent. Just who is they? The rest of the sentence is just a mess. If you’re still reading that article at this point, I feel sorry for you.

He and his wife’s decision is wrong

Is there anyone in the English-speaking world (besides the writer for Yahoo! TV) who thinks this is correct?

he and his wife tv

I have no explanation for why the writer would think he is correct, unless the writer is a fourth-grade dropout. Anyhoo, the correct phrase would be “his and his wife’s decision,” which is a bit awkward. I’d probably suggest a rewrite: the decision he and his wife made…

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