Can’t decide how to spell a word? Can’t figure out if it should be hyphenated or not? Don’t consult a dictionary. Just do what the folks at Yahoo News do: Spell it both ways!
If I had a nickel for every error on Yahoo, I’d have hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of coins. Missing apostrophes, like those on Yahoo Finance, would contribute to my stash:
Sometimes a word ending in S looks like a plural, but it’s really a quasi possessive. This is a case of a quasi possessive. (It’s also an example of the genitive case, which is more grammar than I like.) If you’re unsure whether you’re faced with a simple plural or a quasi possessive, try this: Substitute the number 1 for the number in the phrase. So, instead of “millions of dollars worth,” try “one dollars worth.” Notice that I used dollars, and not dollar, because that sounds right to me. But of course it’s not a plural, so it must be a possessive: one dollar’s worth. This method depends on having an “ear” for correct language, something Yahoo writers seem to lack.
It must have been a stressful weekend over at the editor’s desk at yahoo.com. Maybe that’s why the editors missed the missing apostrophe here:
Or failed to recognize that schoolyard is one word:
Someone should demand to know why a typo like this slipped through the spell-checker:
(Oh, yeah. I forgot. Yahoo editors don’t use spell-checkers. Or proofreaders.)
No spell-checker would have caught this perfectly spelled bit of nonsense:
I have no idea what that was supposed to be. Can anyone translate it for me?
My previous blog post noted a missing apostrophe on the front page of Yahoo News. I think I’ve found it. It turned up in a headline on Yahoo Lifestyle:
The apostrophe simply doesn’t belong there. When faced with a similar situation — a length of time preceding an adjective — don’t include the apostrophe. (But if the time period modifies a noun, it gets an apostrophe: one day’s pay, ten years’ experience.
If that’s too grammar-geeky a rule for you, try this: Replace the length of time with the singular: one month pregnant sounds right; one month’s pregnant doesn’t. So, no apostrophe in the plural. Of course this method requires that you have an “ear” for correct English.
Was there some disagreement at Yahoo Finance about the name of a popular retirement plan? Did the writer insist it’s a 401k, but the editor claim it’s 401(k)? Did the editor roll over and write this:
Well, a finance writer and editor who don’t know that the plan is a 401(k) probably don’t know that rollover isn’t a verb. The verb phrase is two words: roll over. (And the illustrator has a different idea about the plan’s name.)
But wait! There’s more! The headline for the article also claims rollover can be a verb. (What would its past tense be? rollovered?)
And there’s yet another (and wrong) name for the plan, this time with a capital K. (I’m going to overlook the missing hyphen in what normally would be two-minute. It’s Yahoo’s feature and the company can call it anything it wants, even if it’s slightly illiterate.)