At the mercy of the writer

Readers of are at the mercy of the writer and editor. If they screw up, then the reader can be misled.

fp mercy

Reading that headline, you might think that the sky has shown the Oklahoma town mercy and the town has endured. You would be wrong. And the writer is even wronger. The idiom “at the mercy of” means “without protection against.” The town endures in spite of being at the mercy of the sky.

A couple of errors

It’s really one little word that’s missing on the Yahoo! front page, but it’s a couple of mistake:

fp couple segments

Here’s what the American Heritage Dictionary says:

The of in the phrase a couple of is often dropped in speech, but this omission is usually considered a mistake. In 2013, 80 percent of the Usage Panel found the sentence A couple friends came over to watch the game to be unacceptable.

And then I fell asleep

It must be so exhausting to write for Yahoo! Makers that the writer fell asleep before completing this photo caption:

plate setting diy

Clearly the writer wasn’t tired from searching the dictionary for the correct words to use. If she had tried looking up plate setting she would have found it doesn’t exist in the American Heritage Dictionary. The combination of plate and utensils for one person is called a place setting. Let’s hope that next time she’s a little less drained and she takes care to match a verb to a singular subject (like jar).

Putting in place

The editor of the Yahoo! front page has been putting in place some interesting typos and omissions:

fp has putting

So, did the writer mean has been putting? Or has put? Or is putting? Or was putting? Or something else?

Zany spellings!

Here’s some advice that’s obvious to everyone who writes — except everyone who writes for Yahoo! Style: Misspelling the name of your subject — like, oh, say maybe Zayn Malik — makes you look really, really bad, especially if you do it in a headline:

zayne 1

It’s a mistake of an amateur writer, a careless writer, or a writer who’s so arrogant he doesn’t feel he needs to Google the name. (Do I need to mention the word choice? Mr. Malik didn’t shave his locks, he shaved his head.)

So, someone at Yahoo! Style must have finally realized that Mr. Malik shaved off his locks. That got corrected, but the geniuses continued to overlook the zany misspelling:

zayne 2

And that’s not just a careless typo. The writer really believes that’s how to spell his name, because he uses that spelling in the article, along with some extra words and a freshly misspelled freshly:

zayne 3

Will these mistakes be corrected? We’re hoping.

Where verb?

Where’s the verb in this question in a Yahoo! Sports headline?


Waiving simultaneous translation

If I had any interest in this subject, I might ask for simultaneous translation of this gem from Yahoo! Style:


Dumbest Statement of the Day

Today’s Dumbest Statement of the Day comes to you from the Yahoo! Style editors who claim that 1.5 Armenians were killed during the Armenian Holocaust:


I’m still trying to figure out how half a person can be killed.

Pretending to proofread

Imagine asking the writers for Yahoo! Celebrity if they looked at this sentence and they admitted they pretended to proofread it:

admitted pretended

At least they would be honest.

Does this grate on your nerves?

It really grates on my nerves when a professional writer — this time at — gets a common idiom wrong:

fp grate


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