Step away from the keyboard

Some people have an ear for language and are natural writers. And others don’t and aren’t. They lack the sensitivity to the connotation of words. They may be good interviewers or have interesting or controversial opinions, which might make them valuable as writers. But they need the support of a good (and I mean a really good) editor. Sometimes the kindest thing to do is to recommend that in the absence of an editor, the writer might consider another line of work.

How do you know it’s time to step away from your keyboard? When you can’t spot egregious typos like this one in an article by a Yahoo! Shine writer:

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If, in the same article, you repeat words:

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And if you have no ear for common expressions and clichés and can’t choose the correct word when you try to use one:

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Honey, if you have a problem with verb tense you might re-examine your career choice, especially if it’s not the first time you’ve used the present tense when the past tense is required:

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I was instantly stuck on this sentence and struck by the possibility that you don’t know the difference between stuck and struck:

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No excuse is possible here :

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You write about the fashion industry. You work for an Internet search giant. You can find the correct spelling of Giuseppe Zanotti rather quickly. Maybe what you can’t find is a reason to bother spelling it correctly.

If you make numerous grammatical and spelling mistakes, you don’t get the editorial support your writing requires, and you can’t seem to self-edit, you should consider the possibility that you work for a company that doesn’t value quality writing and its readers’ intelligence. And you might consider that you’ve found the perfect gig.

Tortured language for the sake of a myth

In a misguided attempt to avoid ending a sentence with a preposition, a writer on the Yahoo! front page creates one of the most tortured, twisted, and tormented captions imaginable:

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People, it is a myth that you should never end a sentence with a preposition.

Wenlan Chia: Misquoting is only the start

I’m not a journalist and I’ve never played one on TV, so maybe I’m off-base. But, if you’re a journo and you’re quoting someone, aren’t you supposed to be accurate? Like, make sure you don’t omit words that just make the interviewee look stupid? I think the writer of this article on Yahoo! Shine forgot that principle and maybe forgot a word or two when quoting designer Wenlan Chia:

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Perhaps to make up for the omission, the writer made sure we knew there were black-and-white prints in the designer’s fashion show. There were also slim-fitting trousers (made slimmer without the required hyphen). I’m still pondering how a designer “has yet to visit” a “land” and yet is visiting that “land.” Perhaps the writer has a little trouble with verb tense and meant she hadn’t previously visited that “land.”

Perhaps. There’s no question the writer has problems with punctuation, omitting the apostrophe in models’ and the highly unusual error of failing to include any punctuation at the end of a sentence:

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While you’re pondering how a writer can make errors like those and still get paid, mull over this phrase and let me know what you think the writer meant:

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Oh, Nicky Hilton. You’ve been mistreated!

Poor Ms. Hilton can’t no respect from the writer of this Yahoo! Shine photo caption:

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