Quote unquote

Whose back did Lola Openg want scratched? That’s the question I’m left with when I read this on Yahoo Lifestyle:

The writer alleges that Ms. Openg said, “Scratch her back.” Whose back would that be? In fact Ms. Openg asked Alexa, “Scratch my back.” That’s a bit different, isn’t it? And that illustrates what happens when a writer and editor have no idea what a direct quote is.



Is there a shortage of apostrophes at Yahoo Lifestyle? Or is it just a shortage of editors who know how to use them? Here’s a headline and teaser that has me questioning if Yahoo hires only apostrophe- and spelling-impaired editors:

OK. So that was just a careless mistake (or two or three). The actual article must be better, right? Wrong. Those folks at Yahoo are still apostrophe-impaired, unable to put them in two places in one sentence:

Let’s take the charitable view that this is just a typo and not the result of a writer’s unfamiliarity with a common expression like “fill it up”:

I’d overlook this mistake (just like the writer overlooked the word to before walk), if it were the only goof, but alas, it’s not:

Another apostrophe goes missing here, but maybe it’s just the result of a malfunctioning keyboard:

But, wait! There’s more! After I wrote this post, the headline and teaser were corrected. Somewhat:

It looks like the editors noticed the missing apostrophe and the typo. Good job! Maybe next time they’ll learn to use a spell-checker and proofread before publishing. If not, I may just harass them some more.

Maybe it really is fake news

I’m not one to holler “fake news” when I see something obviously wrong online. I’m more likely to holler “Yahoo!” Yup, the internet giant makes mistakes on its pages — mistakes that are completely avoidable by a little bit of reading by its editors. Take this teaser on Yahoo News:

I can’t understand how that mistake was made. For the last month we’ve heard and read about the 17 deaths in Florida. And anyone who has been paying attention knows that 14 students and 3 staff members were victims of that tragedy. Why don’t the Yahoo editors know that?

Maybe they just don’t like to read. Maybe they prefer to exercise their imagination. Like they did on yahoo.com with this falsehood:

The pedestrian bridge that collapsed has not been open for a few days. Not even for one day. The bridge has not been opened at all. Period! (as Sean Spicer would say).

I had hope that the editors corrected the error when I noticed they updated the headline, but noooooo:

The editors still insist that the bridge opened days ago. With hope springing once more, I was sure they’d corrected the error when they updated the headline yet again:

And yet again, the alternative fact is still there. Maybe I have to reconsider my avoidance of calling obvious errors fake news.

I don’t think it’s right

It’s not unusual to see a completely erroneous apostrophe in the possessive pronoun its. What is unusual is a missing apostrophe in the contraction it’s. But it’s not so unusual on Yahoo Finance:

A historic mistake

It’s a historic mistake. No, I’m not talking about the trump regime. I’m referring to the use of the indefinite article an on Yahoo News:

Unless you’re Cockney and don’t pronounce the H in historic, the correct article is a. The article an is used before words that begin with a vowel sound, like an honest woman and an honorable man.

Apostrophe catastrophe

The editors at Yahoo News have gone apostrophe-happy. Maybe they think an apostrophe is needed after every plural noun:

Why they would add an apostrophe to veterans is a mystery to me, especially since the name of the facility is Veterans Home of California (sans apostrophe). But adding an unnecessary apostrophe to what looks like a possessive is a common mistake at Yahoo. A mistake that can be avoided by following this advice from the Associated Press Stylebook:

Do not add an apostrophe to a word ending in s when it is used primarily in a descriptive
sense: citizens band radio, a Cincinnati Reds infielder, a teachers college, a Teamsters request, a writers guide.

Memory Aid: The apostrophe usually is not used if for or by rather than of would be appropriate in the longer
form: a radio band for citizens, a college for teachers, a guide for writers, a request by the Teamsters.

So, in the case of that headline, it’s a home for veterans and therefore, a veterans home.

Even more mystifying is the apostrophe in months. I imagine the editors thought it was like the quasi possessives one year’s salary, two weeks’ notice, or seven years’ experience. It is not. Quasi possessive expressions involve measurement (such as a length of time or amount of money) and a noun. The expression 7 months pregnant includes a length of time and an adjective and there’s just no possessin’ an adjective.

(If you’re trying to figure out if you’re faced with a quasi possessive requiring an apostrophe, take a look at my memory aid here.)



This needs to be fixed

I wish I could say that neither the writer nor the editor needs to brush up on grammar, but I can’t. Someone at Yahoo Lifestyle needs a refresher on matching a verb to a subject:

When a subject consists of two nouns joined by neither…nor, the verb must agree with the noun closer to it. So these are both correct:

  • Neither my sister nor my mother needs to read junk like that.
  • Neither my sister nor my parents need to read junk like that.

This speaks volumes

This headline on Yahoo Sports speaks volumes about the proofreading skills of its editors:

To paraphrase the occupant of the Oval Office, they consult themselves because they have “a very good brain.” Except it should be Brian.

Break up that breakup

Did the editors at Yahoo Lifestyle break up with their dictionary? Is that why they used the noun breakup instead of the phrasal verb break up?

Think about it: If breakup were a verb, what would its past tense be? Breakupped?

How is your state of nind?

If you think readers don’t care about typos, think again. Here’s a little typo (in a headline, no less!) from yahoo.com:

Did readers notice? Of course they did. And they had something to say about the error:

  • His nind is fine. His mind, not so much.
  • What exactly is “Nind”? perhaps its the author that is not doing well….
  • However, Wilbur’s ”Nind” is in question now.
  • Trump is in a constant New York state of nind.
  • State of nind?
  • Trump’s “state of nind”? yahoo has surely lost its own.
  • A nind is a terrible thing to waste.
  • why not do a spell check yahoo
  • I can see typo or spelling/grammatical errors getting thru the proofing process when it’s part of the article’s text. That’s impossible to always avoid. The headlines should never have one though. That’s embarrassing.
And my personal favorite:
  • I do worry about the “State of Nind” of the proofreaders at yahoo. Perhaps they should have their Covfefes examined.


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