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?

Where prices are superfluous

Regardless of what they might think at yahoo.com, readers aren’t interested in the cheapest and most expensive beer prices, they’re interested in the cheapest and most expensive beer, except for people like me who don’t care for beer or football:

fp varies

Everyone, including me, likes a verb matched to its subject, so we’re not crazy about the use of varies (which should be vary) because the subject (cost and size) is plural.

Not a good place for that

Headlines in mile-high letters are not good places for grammatical errors.

thats sports

I bet the writer for Yahoo! Sports would really be embarrassed to learn that his that’s should be that are.

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.

Amongst your words, that is the most pretentious

The new site Yahoo! Style may be setting some records in the number and severity of errors that it displays every day. These errors from a recent article are among the most amateurish on the site:

font style 1

The word amongst is a synonym for among. Is it wrong? Not exactly, but it’s just not as common in the U.S. as it is in other English-speaking countries. And Americans aren’t all that fond of the word. The OxfordWords blog sums up the sentiment of many Americans:

[M]any authorities (such as Garner’s Modern American Usage) and language blogs state that, in US English, amongst is now seen as old-fashioned, and even ‘pretentious’. If you are a US English speaker, therefore, and you don’t want to come across to your audience as out of date or, heaven forbid, linguistically la-di-da, then it’s advisable to opt for among.

As for the other error in that paragraph, I believe there’s a mismatch between the subject designer and the verb, which should be tells. I can’t be sure since there appears to be some extra words, but I think the writer promises to let us know what the designer is listening to. That is simply a lie. The interview that follows does not include any such info.

The interviewer was clearly in the dark about Josef Albers’ “Interaction of Color,” which is a book. The designer was also influenced by the Blaschkas, a father and son, and not just one misspelled person:

font style 2

It would have been nice (and expected from a real site with any integrity) to check the references made by the person being interviewed. But this is Yahoo!, and journalistic integrity is not a priority.

Also not a priority? Punctuation. At least, correct punctuation is not a priority. Maybe someone will tell us about the process the writer has for distinguishing between a question and an imperative sentence:

font style 3

Which subject and verb?

Which subject and verb tell the world, “I don’t give a crap about grammar”? The subject and mismatched verb on the Yahoo! front page:

fo cut and stone

Here’s a better way to thank someone

You know what would be a better way for the editor in chief of Yahoo! Style to thank someone? Getting his name right:

paul style

This misspelling isn’t even close. The president and publisher is Paul Turcotte. The writer could also show some respect for his readers by employing correct grammar. He should be thanking Mr. Turcotte for “having Gigi and me,” not “Gigi and I.”

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.

Neither writer nor editor knows grammar

If you’re a professional writer, you might be able to get away with poor grammar — if you have the services of a competent editor. But, if you write for the Yahoo! front page, don’t count on it:

fp neither know

Neither the writer nor the editor (assuming there is one) knows that the verb must agree with the noun closer to it when the subject is joined by neither…nor.

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