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Let’s begin this installment of “Media Watch” with a headline we could do without:
• “Manning and Co. bring in ’da noise”
Did you catch it? Why the apostrophe? It should not be there unless one or more letters are omitted from the front of da (like the missing be in ’cause). That’s not the case; da is a condescending spelling of the, as uttered by a rowdy football fan.
It appears that the headline writer added the apostrophe as a wink to the reader, a way of saying, “Of course, I don’t talk like these
• “This ugly episode must be overcome in favor of defeating ours’ and Russia’s mutual enemy.”
Another diseased apostrophe. The possessive pronoun ours never takes an apostrophe, any more than yours, hers, or theirs does. But even if we remove it we are still left with the frightful ours mutual enemy. The sentence calls for the possessive
adjective our. So make it either our and Russia’s mutual enemy or Russia’s and our mutual enemy.
• “RMJ is an acronym for Recycle My Junk.”
No, RMJ is an initialism. There is a key difference between acronyms and initialisms. If you can say it as a word, as with NASA
or ROM, it is an acronym. If you pronounce each letter, as with FBI or RSVP, it is an initialism.
• “His choice is Jackson, whom he said already knows the job.”
Why is it that so many people seem to use whom only where they shouldn’t? Look what happens if we move he said to the back of the
sentence: His choice is Jackson, whom already knows the job, he said. Obviously, the right choice is who, the subject of knows—and emphatically not the direct object of said. So make it His choice is Jackson, who he said already knows the job.
• “Ironically, Shakespeare’s greatest literary contemporary died the same day he did.”
The first word should be “Coincidentally.” When something is ironic, it has a grimly humorous or paradoxical twist, as if the universe
were playing a wicked practical joke. Thus, it is ironic if a speeding car crashes into a “drive carefully” sign. But where is the
irony here? Do not use ironically when referring to an odd or remarkable coincidence, such as two famous writers dying on the same day.
• “Before they fled, he and his mom had a going-away party.”
The article was about a fugitive who had committed quadruple homicide. We understand that we’re living in the Age of Informality, but there is
something spectacularly inappropriate about calling a sociopath’s enabler mother “his mom.”
Because of the e-newsletter’s large readership, please submit your English usage questions through GrammarBook.com’s “Grammar Blog.”
The following are sentences recently heard over the airwaves. See if you can make them better. Answers are at the bottom of the newsletter.
1. “It fell a tenth of an inch short of the all-time record.”
2. “It’s complete trash, garbage—there are other adjectives I’d like to use.”
3. “One of the suspects immigrated from Syria.”
4. “How dare him say that?”
5. “He and his company are flaunting the system.”
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Pop Quiz Answers
1. “It fell a tenth of an inch short of the record” (all-time record is a pleonasm).
2. “It’s complete trash, garbage—there are other nouns I’d like to use.”
3. “One of the suspects emigrated from Syria.”
4. “How dare he say that?”
5. “He and his company are flouting the system.”
Learn all about who and whom, affect and effect, subjects and verbs, adjectives and adverbs, commas, semicolons, quotation marks, and much more by just sitting back and enjoying these easy-to-follow lessons. Tell your colleagues (and boss), children, teachers, and friends. Click here to watch.