No wonder the writing is so bad

If I were lucky enough to be an editor in chief, you can bet I wouldn’t be making the same mistakes made by the head of Yahoo! DIY:

if i was lucky

Anyone wondering why the writing on DIY is so amateurish should consider that this little paragraph was written by the editor in chief of the website. If she doesn’t care about the quality of her own writing, why would she care about the quality of the musings of others?

Just in case someone from Yahoo! DIY is reading this, here’s the scoop: You should use the subjunctive mood for statements that are not factual; hence, were (not was) is the correct verb. In English, we capitalize the pronoun I. And finally, if you’re not asking a question, don’t conclude a sentence with a question mark.

Everyone needs an editor. Even an editor in chief.

One shopper, many bodies?

Can one person have more than one body? And can a department store survive with only one shopper? These are the questions that have plagued me since reading this on Yahoo! Style:

shoppers style

‘Tis true: ‘Tis not ’tis

If you know that ’tis is a contraction of it is, then you understand the need for the apostrophe. If you have no idea what ’tis means, you’ll omit the apostrophe, like the writer for Yahoo! Style did:

tis women style

If you’re a grown woman, you should appreciate the utility of the apostrophe. You should also appreciate the difference between woman and women.

Do you need a second costume?

So, you already have your Halloween costume. You’re going to your BFF’s party as a slutty slut. But the boss just announced that everyone must come to work in costume on October 31. Your slutty slut is kinda NSFW. You need a second costume! Don’t panic. The creative minds at Yahoo! DIY have ten second costumes; one is sure to be just right:

10 second costumes diy

But wait! There’s more! Each of these costumes can be made in less than a minute. In fact, you might call them “10-Second Costumes.”

What a difference a hyphen makes.

It took a whole team to write this badly?

Here’s a shocking admission from Yahoo! Style: This article, and all its errors, was written by “Yahoo Style Editors.” Apparently it takes more than one editor to screw up this badly. In general first ladies doesn’t get capital-letter treatment (at least according to most authorities, including the Associated Press). And no authority would OK the use of an apostrophe in the plural houses. (But no article from Style would be complete without at least one apostrophe in a plural):

fl 1

One of those “Yahoo Style Editors” really ought to be able to spell the name of every U.S. president, so one of them should be able to spell every president’s wife’s name, too. Like Nancy Reagan:

fl 2

I kinda think that’s inexcusable. And I’m horrified that the writers think that Hillary Clinton was inaugurated in 1997. She never had her own inauguration. She did, however, attend her husband’s 1997 inauguration.

Those “editors” could use a little tutelage in the use of a spell-checker:

fl 3

Lordie, lordie. Doesn’t anyone in the group of “Yahoo Style Editors” know how to spell? Or use a dictionary? Or a spell-checker?

fl 4

And finally there’s just one more lie they have to tell. (It’s probably not a lie so much as an inability for the combined brains of “Yahoo Style Editors” to understand words of more than two syllables.) Mrs. Clinton did not wear an embellished gown to her husband’s second term ceremony. She wore one to her husband’s second-term Inaugural Ball.

Back to school for you!

Could the writer of this module on the Yahoo! front page be a college graduate? I’m not sure. I’d expect a college graduate to know that an apostrophe is required in “Parents college debt nightmare”:

fp college debt

I’d expect that a college graduate could read an article and summarize it accurately. And that’s when I realized that perhaps this writer is still in high school, struggling with understanding text written for a tenth grader. That’s how I’d explain the allegation that these parents owe a huge sum “nearly a decade after the graduation.” Since the parents have more than one daughter, I wanted to know whose graduation was a decade ago. So I read the article and learned that these folks borrowed the money a decade ago — not that their daughters graduated a decade ago.

To the writer, I’d say, stay in school and get that high school diploma. To readers of, I say don’t believe what you read.

Edited and still bad

In a never-ending search to find an article on Yahoo! DIY that doesn’t contain multiple errors, I came across this 2-sentence paragraph:

never search dyi

It’s hard to imagine that this was written by someone who advanced beyond fourth grade. It’s written by someone described as “Cinematographer/Editor.” After reading this, I can only presume the editing is of videos — and not text.

There’s just so much wrong in so little space: There’s the “never search,” which I take to mean “never-ending search.” There’s the mysterious “to do pumpkins a new way,” which sounds particularly lewd. There’s the claim that you need a sand bag, which you don’t; you’ll just fill a trash bag with sand. You gotta wonder about a writer who uses wonder instead of wander. And who the heck calls Halloween “the Halloween Eve.” And don’t get me started on the five periods, which might be an attempt at ellipsis (which is three periods).

So, I just checked that article and it looks like someone attempted to edit that mess. Unfortunately, the editor isn’t much better than the writer when it comes to writing:

never search diy 2

Now it looks like there’s just one word missing in what should be “pumpkins in a new way,” though the sand bag is still there. But what’s really surprising is that the editor doesn’t know any more about Halloween than the writer. It’s also known as All Hallows’ Eve.

Lots and lots of errors

That new site that Yahoo! just launched, Yahoo! DIY, has lots and lots of errors. Here are just two of them:

lots and lots diy

I should have stopped reading

I shouldn’t have read more than this headline on Yahoo! Style:

our stories 1

I should have known that if the headline contains one humongous goof, the article itself is going to be a disaster. The huge mistake in the headline? The article is about a retailer called & Other Stories. How bad is that? Bad. But it gets worse.

At least in the opening paragraph, the writer manages to use the correct words for the retailer, though she does close up the space after the ampersand:

our stories 2

But she drops the the in what should be “in the U.S.” and the hyphen that’s required in brand-new. Maybe the writer is a recent arrival to the States and doesn’t realize that it’s capitalized when referring to the United States.

When it’s a noun or an adjective, must-have must have a hyphen:

our stories 3

This could be a simple typo (names instead of named), but the use of the pronoun their without any known antecedent is just wrong:

our stories 4

How do you explain the misspelling of a product when it appears below a picture of the product?

our stories 5

The final sentence of the article doesn’t disappoint: One hardly ever sees the use of a plural verb with the singular everything:

our stories 6

That was not good. I knew when I read the headline I should have stopped reading. My bad.

It’s not a grocery store

You’d expect to find something like this at a small, local market: avocado’s, banana’s, and more product signs all sporting an apostrophe as if it were part of forming a plural noun. It isn’t. It’s wrong, and you know that. But I didn’t expect to find it on a presumably professionally written site like Yahoo! Style. But I should have:

customers style

How does something like that happen? Is it ignorance? Carelessness? Or an arrogant disregard for language?


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