Did anyone over at yahoo.com notice that there’s a messed-up correlative conjunction:
Here’s one of the mistakes you’ll find on yahoo.com that makes you want to laugh or cry:
It’s so sad to think that there are adults out there, making a living as professional writers, who have not mastered the use of the correlative conjunction either…or.
This is not rocket surgery, people. The conjunction must join parallel elements, which means they must be the same parts of speech. To check if you’ve got parallel elements, read the sentence up to the or (omitting the either).
The defense secretary’s departure is a strategic play by the White House
Then read the sentence from the start of the sentence up to either and tack on the words after the or:
The defense secretary’s departure is he is being used as a scapegoat.
Sounds stupid, no? That’s because the either…or is joining a noun phrase (a strategic play by the White House) and a complete clause (he is being used as a scapegoat). Here’s one way to rewrite that sentence so that the conjunction joins two independent clauses:
Either the defense secretary’s departure is a strategic play by the White House, or he is being used as a scapegoat.
Neither the Yahoo! Style writer nor the editor appears to know basic grammar:
When two subjects are joined by the correlative conjunction neither…nor, the verb must agree with the subject closer to it. So, it should be “neither Richie’s children nor her husband appears” but “neither Richie’s husband nor her children appear.”
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:
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.