How many Molly Goddards are there?

Molly Goddard, a fashion designer, went to the same school as others with the same name. They are all alumni of Central Saint Martins:


It’s either an amazing coincidence or an alternative fact perpetrated by Yahoo! Style.  Or maybe it’s just an example of the writer’s and her editor’s ignorance. Perhaps they don’t know that alumni is a plural; its singular, when referring to a female is alumna. If they cared about such things, but were not inclined to use a dictionary, they could have used the gender-neutral alum or graduate.

I’m supposin’ that they don’t care, just as they don’t care that a dollar sign and the word dollars is a tad redundant. Or that placed should be place. Not only did they get the verb wrong, but they also forgot the other half of the correlative conjunction not only…but also in a sentence that resembles the word salad that could have been uttered by the current occupier of the Oval Office.

Not only bad

This sentence on the Yahoo! front page is so bad that I can’t imagine how anyone would think it passes muster:

fp not only but

The pair not only… but also is a correlative conjunction. It joins two like items, such as two verbs or two clauses. It can’t be used to join verbs (like “straightens and reduces frizz”) and an independent clause.

It should be:

A $25 gadget not only straightens hair and reduces frizz, but also improves hair texture the more it’s used.

You don’t really need to know

Don’t you get insulted when a writer “talks down” to you? I know I do! I hate it when a writer uses a vocabulary that is so unsophisticated that even a rhesus monkey could understand it. I lose patience when the simplest terms are explained in excruciating detail. I can’t stand it when the writer has to torture the language just so it’s grammatically correct.

If you’re like me, then you’ll enjoy reading this article on Yahoo! News! This writer is so sure that you’re a member in good standing of Mensa that he doesn’t bother to insure that pronouns have actual antecedents (even if he knew what an antecedent was):

drunk news 1

He knows you don’t care if he drops the hyphen from the name of a newspaper. (It’s the Press-Citizen, but who really cares?) When you read that 2 AM is in the morning, you know he didn’t include that redundancy for you:

drunk news 2

It’s not often that you read something by a professional writer that contains a grammatical gaffe like the incorrect past tense of a common verb. OK, so it is often, if you’re reading an article by a Yahoo! employee and the article reads like the writer had drunk one too many Bud Lights:

drunk news 3

But that’s OK! It’s just a verb and you knew what he meant, right? And the missing hyphen (again) in Press-Citizen is no biggie. And you don’t have to know what PBT stands for, unless you’re a serious alcoholic, then you already know it’s short for preliminary breath test.

Wouldn’t you want to read about Chad Harvey while enjoying a helpful picture of someone named Matt Harvey? I know I would. Perhaps Matt Harvey is Chad Harvey’s brother. Or father. Or uncle. Or next-door neighbor, who looks enough like Chad to stand in for him in the article:

drunk news 4

The writer has enough confidence in your mental acuity that he doesn’t have to tell you what a BAC is. Heck, he doesn’t even have to form its plural correctly; he’s sure you won’t mind if he throws an apostrophe in there. (By the way, for you Mennonites and others who shun alcohol, BAC stands for blood alcohol content. Or Bank of America Corp.)

Finally, when you think things couldn’t get worse, the writer does not disappoint:

drunk news 5

Imagine not knowing where to put the correlative conjunction not only…but also. Imagine not knowing that the partner of not only is but also. But you know that. You would have written:

to have survived not only driving while intoxicated, but also the punishment they inflicted on their bodies.


to not only survive driving while intoxicated, but also survive the punishment they inflicted on their bodies.

But writing grammatically correct sentences is just patronizing your readers.

When does school start?

I can’t wait until the kids are back in school again. Then maybe they won’t be hacking into Yahoo! Shine, and messin’ with the photo captions:

Man, there’s no way a professional writer could jam so many mistakes in so little space, right? Any high school graduate knows that the 1990s doesn’t have an apostrophe to make it plural. Any fourth grader could spot the typo in “after he divorce.” The staff on any high school newspaper knows you don’t use both “in addition” and “not only… but also” in the same sentence. And if you must use the correlative conjunction “not only… but also,” put the gosh darn words in the right place (and while you’re at it, correct that other typo): Diana was known not only for her amazing sense of style, but also for her charity work.

School can’t start soon enough.

Looking more than careless

If you place a correlative conjunction in the wrong place, you look not only careless, but also grammatically challenged. It’s a lesson that’s wasted on the editor of the Yahoo! front page:

The correlative conjunction not only…but also must joint two like objects, such as two verbs or two nouns. Corrected, the sentence would be: These careers offer not only work-life balance, but also high salaries.

Sensitive subject gets insensitive treatment

If you’re writing about a sensitive subject like suicide, give it the respect it deserves, and not the shoddy treatment it gets on Yahoo! Shine.

Perhaps the transsexual who attempted suicide, Nadia Almada, prefers that her name be misspelled, keeping her somewhat out of the spotlight:

I’m pretty sure celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay would prefer his name be spelled correctly:

The misplaced comma, missing hyphen, and incorrect hyphen in bipolar are more evidence of the lack of regard for the subject:

The other mistakes in the article are the kind you can expect every day from this writer. She can’t cover up this mistake. It’s a verb. It doesn’t need a hyphen:

If your dream is to be a writer, try exercising a little respect for the English language:

Learn to proofread so your writing won’t be missing a word:

The correlative conjunction is not only…but also. And aftercare is the correct spelling here:

There’s an S missing here:

There’s another misspelling of Gordon Ramsay’s surname. Did the writer just make up a spelling for Gail Simmons? Because Googling it would be too hard? Or she doesn’t have respect for the TV personality? Another misplaced piece of punctuation and an incorrect comma separating a subject from its verb show a lack of respect for the language:

Where’s the apostrophe that would make this correct?

Misspellings, grammatical errors, and just plain sloppiness; they all show a lack of respect for the subject, the language, and the reader.

Comma-tose at Yahoo!

Someone at Yahoo! must be comma-tose. She has no idea how to use punctuation. Or even if punctuation is necessary. And that someone wrote this mess for Yahoo! Shine:

The wrong punctuation (a period instead of a question mark), the missing punctuation (like a comma or two) and the mysterious “to do it toss it” are just the start.  The article continues with a cap on melamine (it’s not a proper noun), the laughable plural one’s, and the missing also in the correlative conjunction not only…but also:

This comma should be a semicolon or a colon:

A comma is required to separate two independent causes clauses joined with and; another comma is needed after the word quick and the comma should be a semicolon:

Finally, the writer probably doesn’t know this, but a pronoun needs an antecedent — the word it refers to. If the antecedent is plural (ice cubes), the pronoun must be plural (they).

I’ve read a lot of bad writing, but I’ve never read anything by anyone who was more punctuation-challenged. Nice job!

Hot mess: The new standard for writing?

It’s just a hot mess of random punctuation, homophonic errors, missing words, and other weirdness. And this is by a professional writer for Yahoo! Shine.

It starts with some missing punctuation: A hyphen in clear-view would make sense of the two words, as would two hyphens in out-of-season. But out of site? It’s out of sight, man!

Maybe the random comma is a result of a fat-fingered error. But what’s the excuse for including not only without its partner but also?

More random punctuation: A hyphen slipped out of hand-woven, a comma popped in where something else belongs, but I have no idea what. And an apostrophe that the writer wrongly thought was necessary to form the plural of DVD drops in:

More hot messness: A missing hyphen in over-door. More random punctuation: I don’t know what the comma should be since the words following it aren’t a clause and it seems to be referring to organizers. And again with the out of site:

This isn’t a brand-new mistake; it’s actually quite common on Yahoo!:

Does Yahoo! have any standards for hiring writers? Or is the ability to produce a hot mess the standard?

Show a little respect to Christie Brinkley

As a writer, you display respect for your readers by using the language correctly. You show respect for your subject by spelling her name correctly (sorry, Christie). The writer for Yahoo! Shine may have different ideas:

Maybe it’s OK in some worlds to ignore the missing half of the correlative conjunction not only…but also. But if you strive for grammatically correct writing, you’ll include not only not only but also but also.

Wanna hear a great tip I learned from Mom? When you’re referring to your mother, show her some respect with a capital M:

You should also show some respect to the subject you’re writing about. Start by getting the spelling straight. Sorry, but Prell was introduced by Procter and Gamble.

And get your pronouns right. Like, don’t use it’s (which means it is) when you should use its. It’s only right.

Make over a headline

It’s time to make over this headline on Yahoo! Shine:

(If you mean the verb, you need two words.) Lest you think that makeover in that headline is a mere typo, here it is again in the actual article:

There’s a missing word here:

and another one gone missing here:

Our minds are crowded, but they can still identify the wrong word here:

and the pile of words that looks like a complete clause, but lacks sense and the unnecessary why:

The correlative conjunction not only…but also is nearly complete:

(I think I’m running out of red ink.) If you follow Associated Press style, you’d capitalize Internet. If you follow any style whatsoever, you’d get rid of the misspelled deadline:

I think if I had to read more of this, I’d doze off and later wake up in a nasty funk:

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