Were you comma-tose at the time?

Here’s a relatively unimportant fact: In the United States, a comma is placed before closing quotation marks; in the rest of the English-speaking world, it goes after.


Where do you think the person who wrote this for Yahoo! hails from? England? Canada? Australia?

Sentence to which I am confused

OK, so placing a comma after a closing quotation mark isn’t a mistake everywhere — just in the U.S. But writing a sentence like this from Yahoo! Makers is the opposite of clear communication:

to which you use mak

Arriving at the wrong word

Why is it so hard for Yahoo! Style writers to arrive at the correct word? Why do they think that the verb arrive can be followed by any preposition other than at, in, or on? Doesn’t everyone know that a wedding ceremony is most commonly called nuptials, with an S at the end?

nuptial sty

The writer also manages to include some dicey punctuation. The commas around Sonya Benson tell readers that Rihanna has only one close friend. How did the writer arrive at that conclusion?

Where do you get your information?

When you’re looking for reliable information about investing, finance, or business, what website do you turn to? Yahoo! Finance? If you’re like most people, you’re adversely influenced by the number of mistakes, no matter how minor, you find. Typos, misspellings, and grammar mistakes all erode the credibility of a website or an article.

So, how credible do you find this article, where the writer apparently knew she needed an apostrophe in the first sentence, but couldn’t figure out where? Or that she’s a little skimpy when it comes to her hyphen usage?

bingbing fin 0

(Omitting the hyphens in an age is one of the top 3 hyphen errors you’ll find on Yahoo!.)

I really think that if you’re going to write about finance and business for adults, you need to know the difference between a product (oh, like, say a Barbie doll) and a manufacturer (like Mantel). I’m pretty sure that even though Barbie is a pretty smart, yet plastic cookie, she did not release a doll:

barbie released doll fin

Perhaps to prove that she is completely uninterested in the correct use of punctuation, the writer throws in some random and thoroughly incorrect commas. But I’ll admit to one positive note: The writer has got me interested in seeing those ads where the Chinese actress stares, presumably at the camera:

stared commas fin

You might think so…

You might think that this misspelling of Freida Pinto’s name on Yahoo! Style was just a silly little typo:

frieda 1

You would be wrong. In the article behind that headline, we find the writer commits another “typo” as well as an idiotic idiomatic mistake with arrived to instead of arrived at:

frieda 2

And just in case you still want to give the writer the benefit of the doubt, let me remove all doubt. The writer really, really thinks this is how you spell Freida:

frieda 3

As for the punctuation, the placement of the comma may be OK in the UK, but in the States, commas and periods go before the closing quotation mark.

How many can you find?

Here’s a fun game brought to you by Yahoo! Makers. How many homophonic errors can you find in a single article on the site? It’s really not hard to spot the pales instead of pails:

palettes diy 0

Searching for homophones, you’ll pass a totally random comma, followed by a totally random capitalized Chief. The split backyard isn’t the worst mistake you’ll come across on the way to the palettes that should be pallets.

palettes diy 1

You might not notice this (but I did): That paragraph claims the article was written by someone working for Katie Brown. But one look at the article’s byline says otherwise:

palettes brown

Oopsie. Don’t you love it when you catch a writer in a lie?

Back to our homophone hunt: Passing the now one-word backyard, you’re bound to find an error that even your kids can spot:

palettes diy 11

Overlooking the incorrectly capitalized plywood, you’ll find another palettes:

palettes 22

This is where you’ll find the next homophonic horror, a confusion of where for wear:

palettes diy 3

Holy moley, there’s another palettes and a comma where a semicolon belongs:

palettes diy 4

One more palettes? This has got to be the last:

palettes diy 5

Nope. There’s one more and a little advice, which I take to mean “pallets that are the same height”:

palettes diy 6

How many did you find? I found these four: Pales/pails. Palettes/pallets. You’re/your. Where/wear. What about you?

Woe is me!

Woe is me! I made the mistake of reading this headline on Yahoo! Style:

woes me 1

I couldn’t figure out if Mr. Blacc had won the writer over or bowled her over. Does it matter? This writer was obviously suffering from the encounter and it spills over into her writing.

This gal loves her some commas, which she sprinkles liberally throughout the piece along with an extraneous word or two. But the fun for us is trying to figure out how a black suit comes with a white jacket:

woes me 2

Let’s say fare-thee-well to “has fared him well,” because that makes no sense. This writer is obviously a tad vocabulary-challenged. Perhaps she meant “has served him well.” A dictionary might just serve her well.

woes me 3

For lack of a semicolon

Can you tell how many people were leaving LAX from this statement on yahoo.com?

fp olivier

There was Olivier Martinez. There was his wife. There was Halle Berry. And then there were some kids. Or maybe not.

Unless you know that Mr. Martinez’s wife is Halle Berry, it’s hard to tell how many adults were at LAX. Enter the semicolon!

The semicolon has fallen out of favor over the last few decades, but it has it uses. And this is one of them. Using a semicolon, you can distinguish an appositive from an item in a list. Like this:

The actor; his wife, Halle Berry; and their kids

Not a geography expert?

Not the winner of the National Geographic Bee, but still think you got what it takes to write about places around the world? No worries! You can write for the Yahoo! front page, where knowledge of geography (or just about any subject) is not required:

fp cabo

Even if you think that there’s a town named Cabo in a Mexican state called San Lucas, you could work at yahoo.com. Imagine how far you’d get if you actually know that the city is Cabo San Lucas.

Keep the kids away from the keyboard

This is what happens when you let the kiddies take over the keyboard and write for a site like Yahoo! Style: You get amateurish writing, juvenile vocabulary, and sloppy errors. I don’t know if the writer is a teen or a tween, just that she writes like one.

A professional writer covering New York Fashion Week should know how many capital letters to use. But that’s not all; the errors are nonstop (which is one word, not two). She seems like a writer I typically wouldn’t chat with:

adderall style 1

It’s Groundhog Day, not this thing the writer made up:

adderall style 2

If you’re writing about Adderall, don’t you think you should know when to hit the Shift key? It’s common to refer to a certain period as the mid-90s and it’s more common to include all words, even the in “as the wonder drug”:

adderall style 3

Is this the kind of writing they’re featuring on Yahoo! now? Does the writer have such a paucity of words that she can’t come up with a better way to express this?

adderall style 4

Clearly she has no idea what a proper noun is, like Instagram and Tumblr:

adderall style 5

(Since Yahoo! also owns Tumblr, she might want to learn how to spell it.)

The writing is so bad that I’m practically dozing off.  But I perk up when I see a quote this bad. (It should be “said, ‘You’re welcome.’) And again with the undercapitalized Adderall!

adderall style 6

I don’t know how this went off the rails so badly:

adderall style 7

There’s at least one way to correct that: “At every dinner, cocktail party, and even shows.”

Lordie, I guess we can’t expect kids these days to know about the use of a hyphen in a compound adjective like “four-hour” or to know how to proofread so that no words are missing:

adderall style 8

This wouldn’t be complete without one more lowercased Adderall:

adderall style 9

So, that wasn’t so bad, was it? Not if the writer’s a 10-year-old.

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