Whom would you ask for advice on grammar? I don’t think anyone would ask the writers and editors for Yahoo! Sports:
When a mistake like this shows up on Yahoo! Sports, I have to ask: Where the heck does Yahoo! find these writers? Where do you find a writer who thinks this sounds right?
Do you have to hang around playgrounds in Vladivostok, waiting for elementary-school dropouts to find someone so devoid of any knowledge of English grammar?
English is a difficult language to learn, what with its many verb tenses, irregular verbs, and puzzling idioms. So, let’s be kind to the writer for Yahoo! News’ “Trending Now” as he attempts to master the language while he’s being paid to write in it.
First, don’t be too hard on him for not knowing there should be two hyphens in 16-year-old. Writing an age without the correct number of hyphens is one of the top three hyphen errors you’ll find on Yahoo!.
Then there’s that “that has had,” which we all know should be “who have had.” Using who is preferred over that when referring to a human being (it’s a matter of politesse).
Finally, there’s the issue of Hodgkin’s lymphoma (the only letter that is capitalized is H). I cannot wrap my head around a diagnosis going into remission, unless it was wrong and the doctor took it back. (“Great news, son. You don’t have Hodgkin’s lymphoma so I retracting my diagnosis and putting it in remission.”)
What woman doesn’t like being referred to in the plural by her favorite website, Yahoo! Shopping?
Since some grammarians are OK with using the plural pronouns they, them, and their to refer to a person when the gender is not known, it was only a matter of time when those pronouns would be used to refer to a person when the gender is known.
Seriously, when you’re referring to a woman, use she, her, and hers. It’s the polite — and grammatically correct — way to treat a lady.
If you think that this use of the pronoun he on Yahoo! Sports is correct, I have some advice for you: Find yourself a competent editor because your grasp of English grammar is a tad wanting:
The use of he is probably an example of “hyper-correction”: In an attempt to be absolutely, completely, and totally correct the writer chose the subjective case for the pronoun because he mistakenly thinks it sounds classier than the objective case (which is him).
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):
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:
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:
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:
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:
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.
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.
There are some grammatical mistakes that are so egregious and so obvious that I can’t imagine what went through the writer’s mind. This headline from Yahoo! Sport includes one such error:
Sometimes, in an effort to help Terribly Write readers choose the right word when they’re writing, I suggest a few techniques that depend on having an “ear” for correct grammar. Well, for the writer of this teaser on Yahoo! omg!, those techniques wouldn’t work. Anyone who thinks this is correct doesn’t have an ear for language:
The only suggestion I have is to get yourself a competent editor — or at least someone who has graduated from middle school.