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Here is another set of recent flubs and fumbles from usually dependable journalists.
Because of the e-newsletter’s large readership, please submit your English usage questions through GrammarBook.com’s “Grammar Blog.”
• “Yet my relationship with the game was simple and uncomplicated.”
How did this one get by the editors? One of those two adjectives has to go.
• “He is accused of fleeing to London in March while owing more than $1 billion dollars to Indian banks.”
The dollar sign means “dollars,” so “$1 billion dollars” is as redundant as “simple and uncomplicated.”
• “The vessels have the capacity to carry about 2½ times the number of containers than held by ships now using the canal.
Why would anyone put than in that sentence?
• “The outpouring of anger and concern show that California wants vital and vigilant coastal protections.”
The subject is the singular noun “outpouring,” so the verb should be shows.
• “To get in, I waded through a throng of protesters gathered around the entrance … A few protestors got close enough to snap
The Associated Press Stylebook
and many dictionaries accept only protester. Other dictionaries list protestor as an alternative spelling. But no authority alive
recommends spelling the word both ways in the same paragraph.
• “It is an important fact ignored—or maybe unknown—to the candidate.”
The writer wanted to say that the “important fact” was either ignored by the candidate or unknown to the candidate.
Here’s how to make it work with the dashes: It is an important fact ignored by—or maybe unknown to—the candidate.
• “The outcome is a major win for public employee unions, who would be weakened if members didn’t pay for representation.”
The word after “unions” should be which, not who. Despite being made up of people, a union is a thing. Writers should limit
their use of who to humans.
• “Born in Brooklyn in 1922, stage fright steered Mr. Bauersfeld away from Hollywood.”
The dangler is alive and thriving in the twenty-first century. Did you spot it? To sticklers and other careful readers, this sentence is
sheer nonsense: it states with a straight face that stage fright was born in Brooklyn in 1922. We could write Stage fright steered Mr. Bauersfeld, who was born in Brooklyn in 1922, away from Hollywood. But now the reader wonders what being born in Brooklyn
in 1922 has to do with stage fright and avoiding Hollywood. Year and place of birth are irrelevant here. The writer was trying to cram too much into one
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. “I feel horribly for her and her family.”
2. “The book’s characters become real people to we the readers.”
3. “He said he would support the nominee, whomever it is.”
4. “A small army of law-enforcement agencies were working around the clock.”
5. “Trump, along with Sanders, are the two hot stories.”
6. “Experience is the number-one criteria.”
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Pop Quiz Answers
1. “I feel horrible for her and her family.”
2. “The book’s characters become real people to us the readers.”
3. “He said he would support the nominee, whoever it is.”
4. “A small army of law-enforcement agencies was working around the clock.”
5. “Trump and Sanders are the two hot stories.”
6. “Experience is the number-one criterion.”
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.