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Here is another bundle of woeful lapses by the print and broadcast media.
• Triple trouble from an international news organization: “Garcia graduated law school in California and passed the state’s bar exam, but
has been forbidden from practicing law.”
Using graduate as a transitive verb here is still frowned on by traditionalists. Make it “Garcia graduated from law school.”
The sentence would be tidier with a he before “has”: “but he has been forbidden …” And the final four words should be “forbidden to practice law.” The New York Times stylebook says: “Use to with forbid and from with prohibit: forbid them to attend; prohibit them from attending.”
• “Growing up near West Palm Beach, he and his mother lived in six different apartments.” The phrase “growing up” should
describe the sentence’s subject, but note that there are two subjects, “he and his mother,” and his mother had already grown up. This is
an unusual example of a dangler (the nemesis of callow or distracted writers). The sentence must be rewritten so that “growing
up” applies only to “he”: “Growing up near West Palm Beach, he lived with his mother …” But that’s not
all—why “six different apartments”? Aren’t all apartments different? “Six different apartments” seems to be an
imprecise way of saying “six apartments at different times.” It would be better to write something like Growing up near West Palm Beach, he lived with his mother in six apartments over the years.
• “Neither the name of the victim nor the suspect was immediately released.” This sentence is ambiguous because of faulty parallelism. The sentence says the suspect was not released, but it wants to say that the suspect’s name
was not released. We can make it right without changing a word: The name of neither the victim nor the suspect was immediately released.
• “The gift by Ronald Linde and his wife Maxine will go to support promising initiatives and research.” Why by? A book or a
painting is by someone; a gift is from someone. And commas are needed around “Maxine”—since Mr. Linde can have but one
wife at a time, we need not know her name to understand the sentence. In grammatical terms “Maxine” is nonessential (or nonrestrictive) information and therefore requires commas. So make it The gift from Ronald Linde and his wife, Maxine, will go to support promising initiatives and research.
For more on faulty parallelism, see our February 2014 post “Simple Words, Fancy Label.” For more on essential vs. nonessential phrases and
clauses, see our three-part series on the subject, which ran August 19, 26, and September 2, 2014.
You’ll find these posts on the GrammarBook.com website. On the home page, click on the Grammar Blog tab, scroll down to Monthly Blog Archives in the right column, and select the desired month and year.
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 spot the errors. Answers are at the bottom of the newsletter.
1. “The proof, they say, are in three text messages.”
2. “She is in unchartered territory.”
3. “Bacteria thrives in a warm environment.”
4. “I’m neither a comedian or an aspiring comedian.”
5. “He realized he had spoke too soon.”
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The batteries were given out free of charge.
A dentist and a manicurist married. They fought tooth and nail.
With her marriage, she got a new name and a dress.
Pop Quiz Answers
1. “The proof, they say, is in three text messages.”
2. “She is in uncharted territory.”
3. “Bacteria thrive in a warm environment.”
4. “I’m neither a comedian nor an aspiring comedian.”
5. “He realized he had spoken too soon.”
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.