Coat and boots star as a Columbia professor

I don’t know how they do it! Those creative Hollywood types manage to get a beige coat and knee-high boots to play a Columbia professor:

playing prof style

If I were the cynical type, I might think that sentence is a tad misleading. And full of errors. Fact is, Julianne Moore plays the professor; the coat and boots don’t even have a speaking part in the movie. The boots are actually knee-high and the coat and boots give Julianne her academic look.

To make that sentence somewhat intelligible, you have to get rid of the misplaced modifier (that’s the phrase at the beginning of the sentence) by moving the word it modifies:

Playing a Columbia professor who is diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s disease, Julianne gets her academic look from the beige coat and knee-high boots.

Most funny thing you’ll read today

Is this the most funny thing you’ve ever read on the Yahoo! front page?

fp unhealthy

Or is it the funniest thing you’ve read? If you’re at all familiar with the English language (and Yahoo! editors don’t seem to fall into that category), then you know the superlative of funny is funniest and the superlative of unhealthy is unhealthiest.

I think I’ll get my info elsewhere

A study found that grammatical errors, misspellings, and typos affect the credibility of a website. I know that they affect my view of a writer and my confidence in the writer’s ability to write accurately. When I read this headline on Yahoo! Finance‘s “The Daily Ticker” I had a hint that the writer wasn’t going to be a trustworthy source of info:

cliff finance 0

Any writer who can’t match a verb (like looms) to its subject (like, oh, say, maybe trifecta), has a credibility problem with me.

I could have overlooked the hyphen that’s missing from last-minute when it’s used as an adjective:

cliff finance 1

I might have skipped over the extra word here:

cliff finance 2

But if I had read this first, I would have stop reading then and there:

cliff finance 3

Confusing loose and lose is on every list of Top 10 Confused Words. Any professional writer should be sensitive to the difference between those words and know which one to use.

Were there factual errors in this article? I have no idea, but I wouldn’t take financial advice from this writer. Would you?

This doesn’t come cheap

In writing, mistakes don’t come cheap. The price you pay is your credibility and reputation. If you’re a writer for Yahoo! Movies, perhaps that’s not a priority for you; after all, you can make grammatical goofs all day long and still have a job:

come cheaply movies

The word cheap is both an adjective and an adverb. As an adverb, it’s generally used with verbs of buying and selling and follows the word it modifies. So, “talent didn’t come cheap” is correct, and the use of cheaply in that context is considered hypercorrection — the result of thinking you know so much about grammar that you make a fool of yourself in public.

Slip-up with slip-on

How much of a subject-matter expert do you have to be to write for Yahoo! Shopping? No much. You don’t need to know that the shoe style is a slip-on (with a hyphen) or the shoe brand is Skechers (without a T):

sketchers shopping

When better is better than best

Is the Cadillac ATS or the BMW 335i the best car? Really, do you know which one is the best car in the entire universe? I don’t. I don’t even know which is the better car.  But the folks on the Yahoo! front page apparently know which is the most awesomest automobile in the world:

Of course, we know something that they don’t: When you compare two things, like cars, you use the comparative of an adjective, not the superlative. The superlative is reserved for comparing three or more things. For the adjective good, the comparative is better, the superlative is best. We are wicked smart and know that the correct question is: Which is better? It clearly shows that you’re comparing two cars, and not every car in the world.

Here’s a little ditty I learned from my mother many decades ago. I still use it to remind myself of the comparative forms of good:

Good, better, best
Never let it rest,
Until your good is better
And your better is best.

We were not written by Terence Winter

Please ignore what you read on Yahoo! Movies: We were not written by Terence Winter. Rather, this sentence, which was written by a Yahoo! person, has a misplaced modifier:

We would expect nothing short of embarrassing gaffes from Yahoo!, including one that elicits smirks. At least the writers aren’t engaging in illicit behavior (as far as we know). They are, however, engaging in grammatical assaults with this claim that both Mr. DiCaprio and Ms. Lumley play the same characters in an upcoming film:

(To indicate that the actors’ characters are different, the writer should have added a little apostrophe and S to DiCaprio.)

Shavin’ a little from clean-shaven

The adjective clean-shaven gets its hyphen shaved off at the keyboard of a Yahoo! front page staffer:

Here’s another thing that doesn’t go so smoothly

This sentence doesn’t go so smoothly with its freakishly ungrammatical use of the adjective smooth:

Shouldn’t you be back in school?

Hasn’t school started already? So, shouldn’t this child-writer for Yahoo! Shine be in a classroom?

Certainly that wasn’t written by an adult. A real writer would know to hyphenate the adjective time-lapse. Maybe the hyphen slipped down into 21-Years, where it doesn’t belong. And what’s with the funky capitalized Years? Who writes this stuff? A third grader?

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