Not a Mensa member?

You know all those lists of the Top 10 Writing Mistakes That Make You Look Like an Idiot? Those lists always include the common error of using its instead of it’s, or vice versa.  Well, forget those lists because they neglect the most common mistake of all. It’s this one from Yahoo! Travel:

its apost travel

Be honest: Aren’t you guilty of making the same embarrassing error? Maybe that’s why they denied your application for Mensa.

One fascinating fact about Jr.

There was a time when putting a comma between a last name and an abbreviation like Jr. and Sr. was mandatory. But that’s no longer the standard, except on the Yahoo! front page where it sometimes appears in names:

fp jr comma

Since 1993 The Chicago Manual of Style  recommends that no comma be used in names like Martin Luther King Jr. It also notes that  if you use the comma before Jr. or Sr.,  the comma sets off these abbreviations, so an additional comma is needed after the abbreviation.

Is that your question?

Bachelor? Yup, that’s a question. And it’s the question asked on the Yahoo! front page:

fp bachelor quot ques

I don’t know what’s so hard about this: If the words inside quotation marks form a question, the question mark goes before the closing quotation mark.

Would you call that rule “gnarly”?

Gigantic, frantic transatlantic antic

So maybe I lied. It’s not frantic. Or antic. It’s not a gigantic transatlantic, it’s just a slightly larger one made by the erroneous addition of a hyphen by someone at Yahoo! Travel:

trans-atlantic travel

It’s true that when adding a prefix to a proper noun, you usually use a hyphen: un-American, mid-June, pre-Columbian, post-Vietnam, trans-American. But, it’s transatlantic, without a hyphen.

Tim Hortons gets something extra

If only there were some way for the Yahoo! News writers to see how to spell Tim Hortons, the Canadian eatery. Like a picture or something. Something, anything that would show them that there’s no apostrophe in the name:

tim hortons news

What’s missing from this face-off?

Two people might face off in a face-off. What’s missing on the Yahoo! front page is a hyphen in the noun face-off:

fp face off

It would still be wrong

Even if the writer for Yahoo! Movies had remembered to put the hyphen in run-in, the word would still be wrong:

run in omg 1

A run-in is a quarrel or argument; it’s not a casual meeting.

But aside from that, what mistakes did the writer make? There’s some problem with familiar faces, because the writer implies that Lindsay Lohan and Tina Fey share the same face:

run in omg 2

This writer really has issues with punctuation. She puts an erroneous apostrophe is Wednesdays and puts a semicolon within quotation marks. In U.S. English, two punctuation characters never, ever go before a closing quotation mark: a colon and a semicolon.

Was the Ice Bucket Challenge a surprise?

Did the Ice Bucket Challenge sneak up on the writers at yahoo.com so quickly that they were caught unprepared? Could that be the reason that someone thought it didn’t need any special treatment:

fp ibc no quot

and someone else thought it needed quotation marks?

fp ibc quot

Maybe the people who write and edit yahoo.com should communicate with each other. I hear Gmail is fast and reliable.

It belongs to a purple dinosaur

If it’s Barneys (without an apostrophe), it’s a store in New York City. If it’s Barney’s (with an apostrophe), it belongs to the purple dinosaur on PBS.  Or, it’s a misspelling of the store’s name on the Yahoo! front page:

fp barneys

Lo and behold!

Every day Yahoo! brings us a new and amusing spelling, punctuation, factual, or grammatical error. Today, it’s on the Yahoo! front page (as many of them are) and it’s a misspelling of lo and behold that I’ve never seen before:

fp lo apost

Yahoo! staffers have spelled that expression as low and behold here and here. But the inclusion of an apostrophe — as if lo were a contraction — is one I’ve not seen before. The interjection lo is “used to attract attention or to show surprise” (American Heritage Dictionary). It’s not a contraction of a longer word; it is a word.

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