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.

First, learn to read

You’d think that the ability to read a simple sentence would be a requirement for a position of writer at yahoo.com. I don’t think it is. How else do you explain this claim about an article on “offbeat shrines” and “wacky food museums”?

fp museums

Here’s the title of the article:

pez

If by “offbeat shrines” the writer means “factories,” then that’s accurate. If by “wacky food museums” the writer means “factories,” then that’s accurate, too.

Perhaps someone will read the article to the yahoo.com writer, since that seems beyond the scope of the job (or maybe just the writer’s abilities).

Did you mean a turkey hooker?

I’d like to ask the writer for Yahoo! Food one question: What the heck were you thinking?

solicit food

The only food I’ve seen soliciting was a turkey standing on a street corner — before she was stuffed:

turkey hooker

I’ve had lots of foods that elicited (or even more appropriately, evoked) an emotional response from me, including cottage cheese (blehk) and ham-and-banana hollandaise (yum!).

Did you hit the tequila before you wrote that?

Maybe the writer was doing a little research, testing a drink recipe, before writing about tequila on the Yahoo! front page:

fp tequilla

Do I repeat repeat myself?

Would you have spotted the repeated word word here on the Yahoo! front page:

fp at at

or here here?

fp in the in the

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.

Here’s a lesson for you

Here’s a brief lesson for a Yahoo! Travel: Employing the services of a competent editor may lessen the number of mistakes you make:

lessons health

A number of errors and the amount of brainpower behind them

Here are a couple of errors on Yahoo! Sports that are relatively rare. So unusual, in fact, that I think the writer may be a student of English as a Second Language:

amount of leagues

How often have you seen amount used when number is so obviously called-for? Uh, never. At the risk of boring all the literate Terribly Write readers, let me summarize: Use amount of with uncountable nouns; it is often used with singular mass nouns such as an amount of money, an amount of love, an amount of time. Number of is used with countable nouns, which are usually plural, like number of errors, number of students, number of leagues.

And since we’re talking about leagues, we might want to consider why the writer thought that they should be referred to by the pronoun who, which should be used exclusively for human beings. (The writer should have chosen that instead of who.) Maybe the writer thought leagues are people, too.

First time in a dorm? Don’t bother with this

Only students who’ve lived in a dormitory (and who are headed back to a dorm) need read this article described on yahoo.com:

fp headed back

So, if you’re going to be a freshman, living in a dorm for the first time, look elsewhere for advice.

(It’s interesting how a little word like back can change the meaning of that sentence.)

Sometimes I just have to say it

Sometimes I just have to say it: This is idiotic. This is one of the stupidest things I’ve ever read on a supposed news site:

tank in texas

As if I needed more evidence that Yahoo! is outsourcing writing of Yahoo! News to non-English-speaking countries, we have this. The writer obviously thinks a tank is the same thing as a tanker. This is a tank (courtesy of Wikipedia):

tank

The vessel in the Yahoo! News picture is a tanker. It is a ship. It holds oil. It travels in the ocean. It could not disappear in Texas since Texas is not an ocean.

The tanker disappeared off the coast of Texas.

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