What’s on the chopping block?

If I made as many mistakes in my job as this writer for Yahoo! Style, I’d be afraid my job would be on the chopping block:

chopping block sty

At least I know the difference between a chopping block and an auction block, which is what she meant, but didn’t write. I also know not to put a hyphen between an adverb ending in -LY and the word following it.

Hand her a bevvy

What was the Yahoo! Style writer drinking when she wrote this? A bevvy? (That’s a drink. An alcoholic one.)

bevvy sty

There’s practically a bevy of minor mistakes there. Nothing serious, but enough to detract from the writing. Besides the misspelling, there’s the incorrect hyphen after an adverb ending in -LY and the use of a instead of an.

Not discreetly placed

This hyphen from Yahoo! Style is not discreetly placed; it’s as clear as day:

discretely-placed sty

If you care about writing that is scrupulously correct, you wouldn’t put a hyphen between an adverb ending in -LY and the word that follows it. If you care about being understood and not looking like an undereducated dilettante, you’d use discreet when you’re referring to something that was designed to attract little attention.

Newly released hyphen use

I lied. This use of the hyphen on the Yahoo! front page is not new; in fact, this mistake happens every day on Yahoo!:

fp newly-released 2

There’s no reason to put a hyphen between an adverb ending in -LY and the word that it modifies. The suffix -LY is the signal to the reader that the adverb modifies the word that follows it.

It could’ve easily been correct

With a little help from a competent editor, this could’ve easily been correct. But it’s on Yahoo! Style, a site that’s in its own grammatically incorrect world:

could've easy sty

Look closely at this

You don’t have to read closely to spot this grammatical gaffe on the Yahoo! front page:

fp to read close

Unfortunately, it’s not rarely seen

On the Yahoo! front page, the hyphen is overused, as it is in this recently published teaser:

fp recently-deceased 2

Perhaps if the writers were closely watched they wouldn’t throw a hyphen in after an adverb ending in -LY:

fp closely-watched 2

This mistake isn’t rarely seen; it occurs quite often on yahoo.com:

fp rarely-seen 2

Here’s what these writers don’t understand: An adverb ending in -LY is a signal to the reader that it modifies the word that follows it. There’s no need to join those two words with a hyphen.

What you encounter on Yahoo

Here are two things you might encounter on yahoo.com: an apparent typo and an incorrect punctuation mark:

fp enounter

Let’s relegate that to the language dumpster

Let’s relegate the use of a hyphen after an adverb ending in -LY  to the Grammar Slammer. While we’re at it, let’s make a citizen’s arrest and haul in the Yahoo! Shine writer who also thinks that delegating is the right word:

delegating shine

I had never heard (or read) anyone use delegate when relegate was the word that was called for — until I started reading Yahoo!. Relegate means “to assign to an obscure place, position, or condition.” Delegate means “to commit or entrust to another.”

Just don’t use it, part deux

Last week I urged the writers at Yahoo! to just give up on the apostrophe. They have no idea when to use it, and their sad attempts at punctuation just make them look like amateurs. Well, I’m here to urge at least one writer for yahoo.com to give the hyphen the boot. Someone has no idea when to use it, sprinkling it willy-nilly about, as if it were rice at a wedding:

fp recently-deceased clarissa

The common mistake (common throughout Yahoo!, that is) of putting a hyphen between an adverb ending in -LY and the word it modifies is almost forgivable (almost, but not completely). What’s unforgivable is throwing that horizon character in someone’s name, especially someone as well-known as Clarissa Dickson Wright. Why on God’s green earth would anyone arbitrarily hyphenate someone’s name?


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