How is that a question?

How could that be a question?

fp how lost

If the brain trust at the Yahoo! front page had written “How is body heat lost?” — that would be a question.

Remembering and forgetting wild things

Do you remember the ’60s song “Wild Thing”? This Yahoo! Makers writer remembers the song, but not its real title. She remembers the decade it was popular, but not where an apostrophe goes when writing about it. (The apostrophe is used to indicate the missing number 19, not to indicate a plural: ’60s.) She remembers how to spell valentine, but not that it’s a common noun when referring to a loved one. Oops. She didn’t remember that a question ends in a question mark:

wild thing diy 1

And I don’t remember seeing a misspelling of retailer Michaels this wild:

wild thing diy 2

Is that your question?

If the question in this headline on Yahoo! Movies is “Secretary?” then this punctuation is correct:

secretary quest quot movies

But, of course, the whole sentence is the question, so the question mark belongs after the closing quotation mark.

That’s not where it goes

Where does the question mark go? Not where they put it on the Yahoo! front page:

fp interview quest quot

Unless the question is Interview?, then the question mark belongs after the closing quotation mark.

That’s not impossible

Do you ever think that you’ve seen every writing error that could possibly be made when traipsing around the Internet? Just when I think there are no new mistakes to be made, I read something on Yahoo! DIY that disabuses me of that notion. I’ll see randomly capitalized words (like fall and holiday), common idioms screwed up by the use of the wrong preposition (the expression is set foot in), and of course the ever-popular it’s for what should be its:

fall time diy

This is not impossible, but it should be:

fall time diy 2

Opposed to pasta? You may be antipasta. You also may be anti-spell-checker and anti-punctuation:

fall time diy 3

(That’s the first time I’ve encountered a misspelled antipasto. Who doesn’t love a good misspelling?)

And I’m totally looking forward to a new dish involving the mysterious slided tomato; there’s apparently a reipe for the tomoato concoction:

fall time diy 4

Have we seen every error that could possibly be made in the English language? Hardly.

No wonder the writing is so bad

If I were lucky enough to be an editor in chief, you can bet I wouldn’t be making the same mistakes made by the head of Yahoo! DIY:

if i was lucky

Anyone wondering why the writing on DIY is so amateurish should consider that this little paragraph was written by the editor in chief of the website. If she doesn’t care about the quality of her own writing, why would she care about the quality of the musings of others?

Just in case someone from Yahoo! DIY is reading this, here’s the scoop: You should use the subjunctive mood for statements that are not factual; hence, were (not was) is the correct verb. In English, we capitalize the pronoun I. And finally, if you’re not asking a question, don’t conclude a sentence with a question mark.

Everyone needs an editor. Even an editor in chief.

A style all its own

Those wacky editors at Yahoo! Style are at it again! Mashing up two words to create a new, totally unnecessary word, like coffeetable:

coffeetable style

Not restrained by the conventions of correct punctuation, they place a question mark wherever they like, as if “The Fault in Our Stars” were a question:

quest quot style

Don’t like Justin Bieber? Neither do they! That’s why they refer to him as Beiber:

beiber style

And the noun must-have doesn’t have to have a hyphen:

must have style

Wow! Wouldn’t it be great to work for a site where you can do whatever you want?

Lessons from Yahoo Health

You can learn a lot just by reading the headlines at the home page of Yahoo! Health. You won’t learn anything about health, but you will learn what not to do when you write.

 

Lesson 1: Make sure your text isn’t longer than the space reserved for it.

You might read this and wonder “Sneak a workout in at what?” The opera? The line outside the ladies room at Yankee Stadium? Your kid’s piano recital? The options are endless.

miss word health

 

Lesson 2: Not every sentence beginning with what is a question.

This headline isn’t a question and “Listen to Your Body” isn’t a question. The only question is why would anyone think that question mark is necessary. Oh, and another question: How did you get a job as a writer?

what quest health

 

Lesson 3: You can’t always trust your spell-checker.

Facing a jury verdict and want to rise above it? You can! And you can do it in time for Race Day, which is apparently when you start running before they take you in for sentencing:

jury health

Amongst your words, that is the most pretentious

The new site Yahoo! Style may be setting some records in the number and severity of errors that it displays every day. These errors from a recent article are among the most amateurish on the site:

font style 1

The word amongst is a synonym for among. Is it wrong? Not exactly, but it’s just not as common in the U.S. as it is in other English-speaking countries. And Americans aren’t all that fond of the word. The OxfordWords blog sums up the sentiment of many Americans:

[M]any authorities (such as Garner’s Modern American Usage) and language blogs state that, in US English, amongst is now seen as old-fashioned, and even ‘pretentious’. If you are a US English speaker, therefore, and you don’t want to come across to your audience as out of date or, heaven forbid, linguistically la-di-da, then it’s advisable to opt for among.

As for the other error in that paragraph, I believe there’s a mismatch between the subject designer and the verb, which should be tells. I can’t be sure since there appears to be some extra words, but I think the writer promises to let us know what the designer is listening to. That is simply a lie. The interview that follows does not include any such info.

The interviewer was clearly in the dark about Josef Albers’ “Interaction of Color,” which is a book. The designer was also influenced by the Blaschkas, a father and son, and not just one misspelled person:

font style 2

It would have been nice (and expected from a real site with any integrity) to check the references made by the person being interviewed. But this is Yahoo!, and journalistic integrity is not a priority.

Also not a priority? Punctuation. At least, correct punctuation is not a priority. Maybe someone will tell us about the process the writer has for distinguishing between a question and an imperative sentence:

font style 3

Is that your question?

Bachelor? Yup, that’s a question. And it’s the question asked on the Yahoo! front page:

fp bachelor quot ques

I don’t know what’s so hard about this: If the words inside quotation marks form a question, the question mark goes before the closing quotation mark.

Would you call that rule “gnarly”?

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