This is either horrible or laughable

Here’s one of the mistakes you’ll find on that makes you want to laugh or cry:

fp either is

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.

Either one

This is not the first time either a writer or an editor for Yahoo! Celebrity has made a grammatical error:

have omg

When the subject is two nouns joined by either…or, the verb must agree with the noun closer to it.

Neither that or this isn’t right

From Yahoo! Sports‘ “Ball Don’t Lie”:

anxiety sports 1

What? You didn’t like that? You were expecting maybe an or following “either the Houston Rockets”? Me, too. But this is Yahoo! and correlative conjunctions like either…or are simply too complex for its writers. So, we forgive.

Yes, we forgive because clearly the correlative conjunctions like neither…nor are a profound and mysterious construction:

anxiety sports 2

If the Einstein had used the word nor instead of or, this would have made some sense — not the sense the writer intended, but some sense. What the writer actually said with that double negative (neither and haven’t) is that both Daryl Morey and Sam Hinkie have commented blah, blah, blah. What he meant: Neither Morey nor Hinkie has commented…

So, there is a lot to be not on the writer’s side here, including this sentence:

anxiety sports 3

Regular readers of Terribly Write will recognize the end of that sentence from a few days ago. Now we know where it came from.

This is a sad excuse for a sentence

How many mistakes can you find in this teaser from the Yahoo! front page?

fp either

Traditionally, either…or can be used to join only two things. And those two things must be parallel elements. So this use of either…or is ugly for more than one reason. First, the writer tries to join three items. Then, the writer doesn’t make any attempt to see that they’re parallel.

One solution is to remove the either and recast the sentence so that the items are parallel:

This little pup is really lazy, is really tired, or just doesn’t like swimming.

This little pup is really lazy or tired, or just doesn’t like swimming.

Either a missing word or an extra word

It’s a minor omission on the Yahoo! front page — except to those who love the symmetry of a correlative conjunction:

The correlative conjunction is either…or, two words that when used together join two elements that should be parallel; that is, they should be the same part of speech. And each part should be able to complete the sentence they’re part of. So, “a LinkedIn” should be paired with “a” That’s it. I’m done being all grammatical on you.

Let’s learn from this

Here are some simple lessons we can all learn (or be reminded of) from the gaffes on Yahoo! TV‘s “Daytime in No Time.”

A misspelling and misplaced commas: A spell-check would have identified the misspelled liaison. It appears on many lists of the Top 100 Misspelled Words. In the U.S. a comma goes before the closing quotation mark:

A misplaced apostrophe: If a plural noun doesn’t end in S (like men, women, children), form the possessive by adding an apostrophe and an S (in that order):

A missing apostrophe: Let’s take a look at the contraction let’s. It’s short for let us. It’s the only common contraction that consists of a verb and a pronoun with a missing letter. But it needs an apostrophe:

Misplaced correlative conjunction: The pair either… or is a correlative conjunction that joins like words, phrases, or clauses. The collection of words on each side of or should be the same part of speech: If there’s a verb before the or, there should be a verb after it. If there’s a clause before it, there should be a clause after it:

This could be corrected by either this rewording:

they either had too much free time or just love to dance

or this rewording:

either they have too much free time or they just love to dance

Why did Huckabee hand records to his predecessor?

It makes no sense. After reading on Yahoo! News‘ “The Ticket” that Mike Huckabee turned over records from his stint as governor to the person who was governor before him, I have to ask:  How dumb is that?

That’s about as stupid as not knowing the difference between a predecessor and a successor. Now that’s really dumb.

Oh, also, the reporter for “The Ticket” doesn’t seem to know how to use the correlative conjunction either…or. The correlative conjunction must join like parts of speech. So, it should be:

…either were given to his predecessor successor Gov. Mike Beebe or were placed in storage…

Or even:

…were either given to his predecessor successor Gov. Mike Beebe or placed in storage…

You’re not writing on someone’s Facebook wall

For some people, the writing standards for comments on Facebook are a bit lax. But if you’re a professional writer, your readers expect grammatically correct prose. So, maybe the writer for Yahoo! Movies was a bit confused and thought he or she was writing on a friend’s Facebook wall:

When using the correlative conjunction either…or, a real writer knows that it must join like things, like two nouns, two verbs, or two clauses — not a clause and a noun. I’m not sure about the word internet, because Yahoo! doesn’t seem to have a standard for spelling it; you’ll see it as both internet and Internet throughout Yahoo!. There’s also a missing word (it should be something like “life story has been made”) and when you’re talking directly to Steve Jobs, put a comma before his name.

Take that, “professional” writer!

A formula for a writing disaster

Misspellings, typos, grammatical gaffes — they’re a formula for disaster. And they’re what you’ll find in this article on Yahoo! Shine.

Abbott Laboratories, the maker of Similac, is voluntarily recalling up to 5 million containers of formula. At least that’s what I think the writer meant:

(In the U.S., companies are singular, even if the name of the company contains a plural.) The writer probably also meant to spell Guam and stomachaches correctly. But I just guessin’.

I’m also guessin’ that she was going to complete this sentence, but got distracted by a shiny object:

Focusing her attention back on her writing, she probably meant to call the man by his real name —  Vincent Iannelli. And she probably didn’t mean to omit the hyphen from Similac-branded:

So what do you do if your writing is less than stellar? If you can’t spot a typo? If you don’t know the difference between you’re (which is a contraction for you are) and your (which is a possessive pronoun)? If you don’t know how to use the correlative conjunction either…or to join like items?

I don’t know what you would do, but I’d ask for the help of an editor. Otherwise, this would just be a formula for a writing disaster.

Tooo much of a bad thing

Is a grammatically challenged, typo-filled article to be trusted? I have to wonder what facts the writer for Yahoo! News also mangled when I read stuff like this:

and this:

I’m guessing which should be while. I’m also guessing that one word here and a solitary parenthesis are unnecessary:

Maybe the Space bar jammed temporarily:

There’s just too much in Toobin’s name:

and a little unbalance in the correlative conjunction either…or:

Not much to be said about this, except that it does not reflect well on Yahoo! as an original news source.

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