What’s your style?

If you’re a writer, editor, blogger, or just someone interested in writing in excruciatingly correct English, you might have occasion to refer to a style guide. A style guide can be an internal company document or a public publication, like the Associated Press Stylebook. Many media companies use the AP guide as the definitive source of spelling, capitalization, word choice, and the like. But not Yahoo News, apparently.

According to AP style, cabinet should be capitalized when referring to the president’s advisers, and not to a piece of furniture. (Other authorities, such as the Government Printing Office and the New York Times, recommend capitalizing the word in that context.) But ultimately it’s a matter of house style. So, I’ll give that one a pass.

Not getting a pass? The use of him instead of the reflexive pronoun himself. (When the subject and the pronoun refer to the same person, use a reflexive pronoun, which ends with self or selves.)  And obviously, the doubled and in and and.

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Not to be confused with imaginary bodies

I’m not surprised anymore when I see that writers for Yahoo! Style have no idea how to make a possessive out of a plural noun. It happens nearly every day:

So, the writer and editor didn’t know that athletes’s makes no sense (they should have written athletes’). What surprises me is the fact that they thought they needed to make it clear that it was physical bodies, and not imaginary bodies, that are the focus of “microagressions” (they should have written microaggressions).

Are you being series?

Is the writer for Yahoo! Style being serious? Did she really think this paragraph was ready for the big time?

Didn’t she notice that the title of the book is “Debutante Divorcée”? How are we supposed to interpret “big hair sprayed hair”? I’ll guess it’s supposed to be “big hair, sprayed hair.” Or maybe  “big hairsprayed hair.” But I have no firsthand (Note: It’s one word) knowledge of that.

I also have no firsthand knowledge of the writer’s reasoning for using need instead of the correct needs. Or for using both but and yet together. Is she being serious?

This is not what it appeares to be

This appears to be a teaser from website written by an amateur author tapping at a keyboard in his mother’s basement:

It is actually from yahoo.com, which allegedly employs professional writers and editors. (But apparently no proofreaders.)

Take off ‘of’ in ‘off of’

Spotted yesterday on yahoo.com:

What’s the issue? It’s the use of off of, which some think is wrong and others say merely lacks concision.

The American Heritage Dictionary says:

The compound preposition off of is generally regarded as informal and is best avoided in formal speech and writing: He stepped off (not off of) the platform.

While Merriam Webster states:

The of is often criticized as superfluous, a comment that is irrelevant because off of is an idiom. It is much more common in speech than in edited writing and is more common in American English than in British.

Aha! There’s the reason for the superfluous of! I’m reading yahoo.com, which isn’t exactly “edited writing.”

New record errors in one sentence

This might just be a new record for number of errors in a single sentence:

It’s unimaginable to me (and to most English speakers) how the writer could think that sentence is okie-dokie for publication. She didn’t notice that prices starts is a grammatical horror? Or that prices can start at $700 and also go up to $1500. But there’s only one starting price for any item.  And prices … is sold? That one made me spit out my sugar-free, nonfat vanilla latte. That’s so bad, I almost didn’t notice the random and totally unnecessary at.

Here’s a wise word of wisdom for ya’

Here’s a word of wisdom for the Yahoo! Style editor: Consult a dictionary about the meaning of the words you use. Perhaps then you’d learn that “wise words” are the only kind that come with wisdom:

wise-wisdom-sty-hp

You couldn’t have just said “wise words” or “words of wisdom” or just “wisdom”? Apparently not.

And here’s another bit of wisdom for ya’: Take some pride in your writing and try to spell the name of your subject correctly. She’s Lea Michele. Spelling her name wrong is worse than “wise words of wisdom.”

There’s probably a big problem with your headline

From Yahoo! Finance comes my favorite headline of the day:

a-probably-a-fin-hp

Speaking out

I must speak out about the writing by Yahoo! Answers staff: It sucks.

mylan-ans

Judging by the incorrect word usage, I’d guess that the writer is not a native English speaker. Why do I think that? The CEO of Mylan testified before Congress. Neither the CEO nor Mylan can be accused of “speaking out,” which means to talk freely and fearlessly. Quite the contrary. The expression “in the recent years” isn’t familiar to me, but “in recent years” is. And people aren’t affected about an issue, but affected by one.

This writer just isn’t familiar enough with English to be let loose on the public without the support of a competent editor.

Don’t even try

Don’t even try to understand or interpret this. Just enjoy the beauty of an unedited sentence:

aaron sty

Uh-oh. I neglected to circle back lace up evening shoes as a potential error. They looked like black shoes to me, but maybe they really do sport laces in the back.

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