This could be prevented

It’s a word I haven’t heard in years: preventative. Is it an incorrect adjectival form of prevent? Not really. It’s considered an alternate form, though not preferred by most authorities. In fact, preventive is far more popular in the U.S. than preventative, which is as popular as preventive in the U.K. So, when I read this on the Yahoo! front page, did I think the writer made a horrible mistake?

fp preventative 2

Kinda, though it’s not the word I would chose. (I tend to favor the dictionary’s preferred spelling of words over the acceptable spellings.) But then I read this on Daily Writing Tips and it was enough to solidify my preference for preventive:

“The most respected publications favor preventive, while preventative is more likely to appear in print and online sources with less rigorous editorial standards. That’s a good enough reason to favor preventive.”

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.

As if he were right

Let’s assume that the writer for the Yahoo! front page is male. He wrote this as if he were right in using the indicative mood of the verb:

fp as if he was

If he wanted to be absolutely grammatically correct, he would have used the subjunctive mood, which states something contrary to fact: as if he were.

A historic mistake. Again

What is it about the word historic that makes the yahoo.com writers lose all sense? This would be correct only if they pronounce the word as istoric (and I’m not sayin’ they don’t):

fp an historic 2

The indefinite article an goes before a word that starts with a vowel sound, regardless the word’s first letter. So, in the U.S., it’s an herb (since we don’t pronounce the H), but in the U.K. it’s a herb (since they do).

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

Do you work for the same company?

I know nothing about fantasy sports. Until I read the Yahoo! front page, I thought fantasy sports was something adults engaged in in the privacy of their own bedroom.

But I was wrong. Fantasy sports, with a big capital F, has something to do with football (of the American variety):

fp fantasy uc

But, fantasy sports with a lowercase F has something to do with… uh, well, football:

fp fantasy lc

I think those brainiacs at Yahoo! are just trying to confuse me and illustrate the company’s support of individuality and creativity. F consistency!

Should someone else apologize?

Richard Dawkins apologized for comments he made about Down’s syndrome. I wonder if he was as challenged as the scribes at yahoo.com to spell it correctly:

fp downs syndrome

The National Down Syndrome Society and the National Association for Down Syndrome  call it (not surprisingly) Down syndrome. The American Heritage Dictionary calls Down’s syndrome a variant of Down syndrome.

Did the writer (and the editor, assuming there was one) just trust that they knew how to spell and capitalize Down syndrome? Maybe they should apologize for their mistake.

Neanderthals among us

Neanderthals live! And I don’t mean those crude twits who lick their fingers after eating Buffalo wings. I’m talking about the species that we all thought was extinct. Not so! According to the Yahoo! front page, Neanderthals live among us:

fp live

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.

Will Johnny Manziel be on the field?

If footballer Johnny Manziel stands on the sideline, is he in the field of play?

fp sideline

Generally, inactive players stand on the sidelines. A sideline (without the S) is a line that marks the limit of a field or court, which is where the folks at yahoo.com think he’ll be.

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