It’s not an old wives’ tale

It’s not an old wives’ tale: People judge you when you make grammatical, spelling, or other mistakes in your writing. Just look at what the editors at Yahoo! Makers did:

wives tale diy hp

Did the writer actually think that wive was a noun and therefore, its possessive form must be wive’s? Somebody needs to go back to third grade for a refresher: When the plural of a word ends in S (like, say, oh, maybe wives), its possessive just gets an apostrophe.

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What does this say tell you about yahoo.com?

What does this say about yahoo.com’s commitment to excellence:

fp say tell

It tells me it doesn’t exist.

Is it news to you?

Did the writers and editors at yahoo.com overlook the fact that someday they might have to write about New York City and that they might want to abbreviate the city’s name? Yup. I know that because they can’t agree on how to do it. Somebody thought it needed periods:

fp nyc p

and somebody else thought, uh, no. No periods:

fp nyc no p

That’s kinda embarrassing. Or at least it would be embarrassing to a real news outlet that carried about things like consistency and that had and followed a style guide.

Not a painstaking effort

The editor for yahoo.com didn’t make a painstaking effort to use the right word here:

fp painstaking

I’ve never seen painstaking used incorrectly, but if someone was going to do it, it would be a Yahoo! staffer. Apparently the writer thinks it means arduous or difficult or filled with pain. It does not. It means showing great care. According to the American Heritage Dictionary:

Painstaking is a compound of pains and taking, though it often sounds as if it were made from pain and staking. A painstaking effort is one in which someone takes pains to do something right. The word is sometimes used to mean “arduous” or “difficult,” almost as if it meant “painful,” but this usage is widely considered to be a mistake. In our 2008 survey, 74 percent of the Usage Panel rejected the sentence Traveling by bus through such a huge country was a painstaking ordeal.

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