Neither or nor have is correct

From Yahoo! Celebrity, two gaffes for the price of one:

Neither or nor the verb have responded is correct. The partner of neither is nor, not or. And when a compound subject is joined by the correlative conjunction neither…nor, the verb must agree with the subject closer to it. So, the verb should be has responded.


Neither the writer nor the editor noticed?

Neither the writer nor the editor (if there was one) noticed this mistake on the Yahoo! front page:

fp neither nor

The correlative conjunction neither…nor is used to join just two items, and never more than two — except on where standard rules of grammar do not apply.

Not only bad

This sentence on the Yahoo! front page is so bad that I can’t imagine how anyone would think it passes muster:

fp not only but

The pair not only… but also is a correlative conjunction. It joins two like items, such as two verbs or two clauses. It can’t be used to join verbs (like “straightens and reduces frizz”) and an independent clause.

It should be:

A $25 gadget not only straightens hair and reduces frizz, but also improves hair texture the more it’s used.

Neither that or this isn’t right

From Yahoo! Sports‘ “Ball Don’t Lie”:

anxiety sports 1

What? You didn’t like that? You were expecting maybe an or following “either the Houston Rockets”? Me, too. But this is Yahoo! and correlative conjunctions like either…or are simply too complex for its writers. So, we forgive.

Yes, we forgive because clearly the correlative conjunctions like neither…nor are a profound and mysterious construction:

anxiety sports 2

If the Einstein had used the word nor instead of or, this would have made some sense — not the sense the writer intended, but some sense. What the writer actually said with that double negative (neither and haven’t) is that both Daryl Morey and Sam Hinkie have commented blah, blah, blah. What he meant: Neither Morey nor Hinkie has commented…

So, there is a lot to be not on the writer’s side here, including this sentence:

anxiety sports 3

Regular readers of Terribly Write will recognize the end of that sentence from a few days ago. Now we know where it came from.

You don’t really need to know

Don’t you get insulted when a writer “talks down” to you? I know I do! I hate it when a writer uses a vocabulary that is so unsophisticated that even a rhesus monkey could understand it. I lose patience when the simplest terms are explained in excruciating detail. I can’t stand it when the writer has to torture the language just so it’s grammatically correct.

If you’re like me, then you’ll enjoy reading this article on Yahoo! News! This writer is so sure that you’re a member in good standing of Mensa that he doesn’t bother to insure that pronouns have actual antecedents (even if he knew what an antecedent was):

drunk news 1

He knows you don’t care if he drops the hyphen from the name of a newspaper. (It’s the Press-Citizen, but who really cares?) When you read that 2 AM is in the morning, you know he didn’t include that redundancy for you:

drunk news 2

It’s not often that you read something by a professional writer that contains a grammatical gaffe like the incorrect past tense of a common verb. OK, so it is often, if you’re reading an article by a Yahoo! employee and the article reads like the writer had drunk one too many Bud Lights:

drunk news 3

But that’s OK! It’s just a verb and you knew what he meant, right? And the missing hyphen (again) in Press-Citizen is no biggie. And you don’t have to know what PBT stands for, unless you’re a serious alcoholic, then you already know it’s short for preliminary breath test.

Wouldn’t you want to read about Chad Harvey while enjoying a helpful picture of someone named Matt Harvey? I know I would. Perhaps Matt Harvey is Chad Harvey’s brother. Or father. Or uncle. Or next-door neighbor, who looks enough like Chad to stand in for him in the article:

drunk news 4

The writer has enough confidence in your mental acuity that he doesn’t have to tell you what a BAC is. Heck, he doesn’t even have to form its plural correctly; he’s sure you won’t mind if he throws an apostrophe in there. (By the way, for you Mennonites and others who shun alcohol, BAC stands for blood alcohol content. Or Bank of America Corp.)

Finally, when you think things couldn’t get worse, the writer does not disappoint:

drunk news 5

Imagine not knowing where to put the correlative conjunction not only…but also. Imagine not knowing that the partner of not only is but also. But you know that. You would have written:

to have survived not only driving while intoxicated, but also the punishment they inflicted on their bodies.


to not only survive driving while intoxicated, but also survive the punishment they inflicted on their bodies.

But writing grammatically correct sentences is just patronizing your readers.

Look! Lookadoo boo-boos

It’s one boo-boo after another, courtesy of the writing genius at Yahoo! Shine:

lookadoo shine

I guess Yahoo! doesn’t include a spell-checker with the software that its writers use. Pity, because they could really benefit from some help. (A spell-checker would have caught the misspelled courtesy and the funky capitalization in HIgh.) Of course, a spell-checker couldn’t tell them how to spell Justin Lookadoo’s name. It wouldn’t tell the writer that the correlative conjunction both…and should be used to join parallel items: “both by what he said and by what…” or “by both what he said and what…”

Requiring writers to use a spell-checker wouldn’t solve all the problems in this one paragraph, but it would have solved a few. And requiring writers verify the spelling of names would have eliminated three misspellings. It’s a start.

Neither word is correct

OK, I don’t know how a professional writer doesn’t know that the partner of neither is nor, not or. But apparently this guy from Yahoo! Sports‘ “Prep Rally” doesn’t know that:

neither or sports pr

So, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised to see that he also doesn’t know that the verb think should be thinks, since it should agree with mother. (When two nouns are joined by neither… nor to form a subject, the verb must agree with the noun closer to it.)

Neither writer nor editor was correct

The writer and the editor, if there is one, for the Yahoo! front page were both wrong when they unleashed this grammatical gaffe on the public:

fp neither were

When two nouns are joined by neither…nor to form a subject, the verb must agree with the noun closer to it. I thought every professional writer (and editor) knew that. I guess I was wrong.

So few words, so many mistakes

Rarely do you see a feat like this — even on Yahoo!. With just a word or two, the writer for Yahoo! Sports‘ “Prep Rally” manages to make at least three mistakes:

both for he sports pr

Let us consider the use of the word both, which is half of the correlative conjunction pair both…and. It can only be used to join two items — not three. Then consider the use of the pronoun he, which should be him, the objective case of the pronoun. And finally, consider the location of the word for: It belongs before the word both, except that both doesn’t belong in that sentence at all. Now I’m really confused.

Either or or nor is correct

When faced with having to choose between or and nor, the writer for Yahoo! Sports‘ “Prep Rally” picked the wrong word:

neither or sports pr

The pairs neither…nor and either… or are correlative conjunctions. Don’t mix ’em up.

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