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 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:


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 writer, since that seems beyond the scope of the job (or maybe just the writer’s abilities).

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.

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

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.)

Is that your question?

Bachelor? Yup, that’s a question. And it’s the question asked on the Yahoo! front page:

fp bachelor quot ques

I don’t know what’s so hard about this: If the words inside quotation marks form a question, the question mark goes before the closing quotation mark.

Would you call that rule “gnarly”?

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.


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