Guess what’s not a question

Why would anyone think that this headline on Yahoo! Shine is a question?

guess whos coming quest shine

That’s actually an imperative sentence: An imperative sentence gives an instruction, an order, a command, or a request. In this case, the writer is requesting that you guess who’s coming to the gala.

What’s still going on at Yahoo?

Yesterday I did something I seldom do; I published a blog post with multiple boo-boos from the Yahoo! front page. Usually I just cover one, but the errors on yahoo.com were so numerous, that I lumped them all in a single post.

Did I just write “all”? That’s not quite accurate, because after that post went live, the hits misses just kept on comin’. Like this attempt at trying to spell Sprinkler:

fp sprinker

And this pathetic try at Steve Carell’s name:

fp steve carrell

This looks to be an attempt at saying “Johnny Manziel owes his appeal to” or “Johnny Manziel’s appeal is due to”:

fp appeal owes to

Oh, lordie. This so-called headline contains redundant quotation marks. Don’t use quotation marks if you’re using so-called because they mean the same thing:

fp so-called costco

I’m no chemist (in fact, chemistry was my weakest subject in college), but I know something about logic. Here’s the scoop: If everything in the world is made up of chemicals, you really don’t need to tell us that “not all are toxic” because it’s unlikely there would still be a human being alive if everything were toxic:

fp chemicals

And bad days sit around doing nothing

Good days work. Bad days don’t. What does that have to do with the talks surrounding the situation in Ukraine? You’d have to ask the writer for Yahoo! News responsible for this:

good days work news

OK, so we all know that the writer meant: Good day’s work. That’s what the Associated Press calls a quasi possessive. Other examples include: three years’ experience, two weeks’ pay, and a good night’s rest.

Editor’s quick thinking saves headline

If only it were true. If only an editor had read this headline on Yahoo! Shine before it was published it might have included an apostrophe (for teens’) and the correct verb:

teens quick thinking shine

The writers’ age factor

Just what is the writers’ age factor (besides being an extremely awkward phrase)? Does a writer’s age have an influence on the quality of his or her writing? There’s lots of anecdotal evidence that those who graduated from high school in the last twenty years don’t have the same writing skills as their parents.  Is the writer for the Yahoo! front page — who forgot about a little apostrophe — one of those recent high school grads?

fp enrollees age

Let’s relegate that to the language dumpster

Let’s relegate the use of a hyphen after an adverb ending in -LY  to the Grammar Slammer. While we’re at it, let’s make a citizen’s arrest and haul in the Yahoo! Shine writer who also thinks that delegating is the right word:

delegating shine

I had never heard (or read) anyone use delegate when relegate was the word that was called for — until I started reading Yahoo!. Relegate means “to assign to an obscure place, position, or condition.” Delegate means “to commit or entrust to another.”

No, thanks. I’m allergic

Nuts? No, thanks.

Maybe you weren’t asking if I wanted some of that salty stuff. Maybe you were trying to ask an entirely different question. But, the truth is, the folks at yahoo.com were asking: Nuts?

fp nuts

Why can’t they remember that if the words inside the quotation marks form a question, then the question mark goes inside, too? It’s a common mistake at Yahoo!, and it just drives me nuts.

Soiree, foray. What’s the diff?

This is one of those articles from Yahoo! News that actually makes me feel sorry for the writer. Clearly, English is not his first language, and he’s being asked to write as if it were and as if he were a trained professional. It can’t be easy. So, that may be why he thinks sing-a-long makes sense as a verb. It does not:

soiree news 1

Of course, he meant sing along.

He may have thought that the adverb completely was called for here, but he’s wrong again. The correct word is complete:

soiree news 2

This is clearly just a typo (I hope), so he gets a bye with this:

soiree news 3

But “first soiree with Internet stardom” makes no sense whatsoever. I can hardly imagine what he thought he was writing:

soiree news 4

Could it be “first foray into Internet stardom”? Anyhoo, the writer also omitted an apostrophe after Keys (or perhaps it should be Keys’s, one never knows what Yahoo!’s standard is), but helpfully dropped an unnecessary (and incorrect) comma after called.

English is a difficult language to master. Maybe this writer could use a little help — from a competent editor.

Best- and worst-case scenarios

What’s the best-case scenario for the Yahoo! front page? That you’d never find a misspelling, typo, missing word, or ugly grammar ever. What’s the worst-case scenario? That you’d find all that and more on yahoo.com. Those are the best- and worst-case scenarios.

But is that what the writer for yahoo.com meant here?

fp best worst-case

What the writer actually wrote was: Best scenarios and worst-case scenarios. Without the suspensive hyphen in best-, there’s no way to tell that it is associated with the word case. A suspensive hyphen shows the omission of a repeated word. It’s a way to avoid saying “best-case, worst-case scenarios.”

The use of the suspensive hyphen is a mystery to many Yahoo! scribes. Maybe the writer for yahoo.com was following the lead of the Einstein at Yahoo! Sports who wrote this:

best case sports 1

or the person who wrote this headline:

best case sports 2

It’s like an epidemic of punctuation omissions over at Yahoo!.

Just don’t use it

If you’re unsure how to use an apostrophe, just don’t use it. If you’re wrong, you’ll look as ill-educated as the folks at Yahoo!.

You wouldn’t want to make the mistake of putting the apostrophe in the wrong place (as it is here on yahoo.com), would you?

fp 80s apost

If you don’t know that the apostrophe goes first (in ’80s) to show the omission of the 19, then don’t use one.

You’ll just embarrass yourself if you think you can form the plural of a noun with an apostrophe like this gaffe from Yahoo! News:

indians apost news

and this one from Yahoo! Movies:

coens apost movies

And I would be embarrassed for you if you used an apostrophe in a verb that isn’t a contraction:

celebrates apost news

Unsure about your punctuation abilities? Get some help. Just don’t ask anyone who works for Yahoo! for advice.

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