Are your policies benefiting readers?

Are Yahoo News’ policies benefiting its readers? I don’t know what the company’s policies are, but I know what they should adopt: Requiring that headlines be proofread by an actual human being before they’re published. In that way, the Internet giant might avoid embarrassments like this:

A spell-checker won’t have caught that typo. Nor would it have flagged this as a spelling mistake:

I’m not going to say that the Yahoo editors are pulling a total con job on readers. This is just one more reminder that you can’t rely on a spell-checker. But there’s one benefit — at least for me. I learned that puling is a real word; it means whimpering or whining.



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.

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:

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.

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?

It’s it’s, but it should be its

It’s practically an everyday occurrence at Yahoo. Someone confuses its and it’s. This time it’s on Yahoo Finance for its mistake:

Forth what it’s Worth . . .

This is probably a common typo involving the Texas city of Fort Worth. But the fact that it appears on one of the most visited pages on the Internet — — makes it a real embarrassment:

Warning: Profanity ahead

Warning: This headline from Yahoo News contains content unsuitable for children:

Lots of news outlets are now including the profane words of America’s current president, as if it were acceptable speech. But most of them are also using correct grammar and are able to match a verb and its subject. Some of them also follow standard guidelines and don’t capitalize the word senator unless it directly precedes a senator’s name.

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