How many is a number?

The number of errors on yahoo.com reaches a level that hasn’t been seen since yesterday at noon. Here’s one more:

fp number reach

A number of these errors are avoidable by simply employing an editor with a thorough understanding of grammar.

The American Heritage Dictionary describes how to choose the correct verb to use with the noun number:

As a collective noun number may take either a singular or a plural verb. It takes a singular verb when it is preceded by the definite article the: The number of skilled workers is increasing. It takes a plural verb when preceded by the indefinite article a: A number of the workers have learned new skills.

More games amount to more than one

Was the writer for the Yahoo! front page unable to figure out that games is plural? More grammar errors and having to face disgruntled readers amount to one amateurish webpage requiring a little editorial support:

fp amounts

Writers who forget grammar

What do you think of writers who forget grammar and can’t match a verb to its subject? I’m thinkin’ of the person behind this grammatical goof on yahoo.com:

fp preys

Is that just a careless typo, a slip of a digit? Or is that an indication of a deeper, more serious attention deficit disorder when it comes to grammar?

Grammatical errors cause uproar

If only. Can you imagine what would happen if readers of the Yahoo! front page created an uproar over every grammatical error? Maybe then the management would take the quality of its writing seriously. And maybe we wouldn’t see such an obvious grammar gaffe as a mismatched subject and verb:

fp plans causes

Did you just dash that off?

Did the writer of this teaser on Yahoo! Celebrity just dash it off? I’d say so:

dash cel

The first hint was the mention of Dash boutiques since there’s only one Dash boutique in Hollywood. Obviously the writer didn’t have time to verify that little fact. Then it was the undercapitalized Pilates, which is a proper noun. But who has time to check a dictionary? Finally it was the mismatched subject (signs) and verb (which should be prohibit). OK, that’s not the result of dashing off a sentence; that’s the result of being poorly educated.

A series of mistakes

A series of mistakes has been made on the Yahoo! home page. Here’s just one:

fp series have

The word series is both singular and plural. It’s plural if you’re referring to more than one series, and takes a plural verb. But in this case, it’s singular (you can tell because the writer refers to a series).

Are is wrong; is is right

When a compound subject is joined by the correlative conjunction neither…nor, the verb always agrees with noun closer to it. Except on the Yahoo! Style, where the rules of grammar are often violated:

neither are sty

Cell technology too new?

The first thing I noticed about this module on the Yahoo! front page was the mismatch of a subject (photo) with its verb (which should be depicts). The next thing I noticed was cell phone:

fp cell phone depict

That’s a perfectly fine spelling. Except that not everyone at yahoo.com agrees. Apparently the technology has caught the writers and editors by surprise and they just haven’t had time to agree on its spelling:

fp cellphone one word

Series of errors is common

A series of errors on the Yahoo! front page is not unusual. It’s quite common to see a mismatch of a subject (like series) and its verb (which should be aims):

fp series aim

The noun series is both singular and plural. In this case, it’s used as a singular noun because there’s only one series of ads.

The number of errors is increasing

The number of errors on Yahoo! is increasing every day. A number of errors have appeared on yahoo.com every day:

fp a number has

Here’s what the American Heritage Dictionary says about matching a verb to the noun number:

As a collective noun number may take either a singular or a plural verb. It takes a singular verb when it is preceded by the definite article the: The number of skilled workers is increasing. It takes a plural verb when preceded by the indefinite article a: A number of the workers have learned new skills.

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