Archive for the ‘plural forms’ Category

The S in DST stands for SAVING, not SAVINGS.

Monday, March 9th, 2015

Daylight Saving timeWhen President George Bush signed the legislation extending Daylight Saving Time by four weeks, I wonder if he realized how many people, including school children, would have to leave for work or school in the dark until April rolls around. In my part of Alabama, it was still pitch dark at 6:45 this morning. The days just aren't long enough yet.

That said, I'd like to point out that the official name of this "Spring Forward/Fall Back" ritual we follow every year (except in Arizona and Hawaii) is DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME, not SAVINGS TIME. The word SAVING is singular in this context.

A nod of approval from Grammar Glitch Central to John Oliver who used this correctly on "Last Week Tonight" in his hilarious "How is this still a Thing?" spoof of Daylight Saving Time. 

NOTE: I added this update about John Oliver at 6:43 a.m. on March 11, and it is still pitch dark outside as kids in this neighborhood head out to the main road to catch their school buses.


To use or not to use? (A grammar checker, that is.)

Wednesday, October 9th, 2013

brain in gear

I use Grammarly's grammar checker because I don't want to misplace a comma and end up eating Gramma (as in "Let's eat Gramma!" instead of "Let's eat, Gramma!").

When I teach business writing workshops, I often remind participants to use grammar checkers with “brain in gear.” A grammar checker can point out possible problems in your writing, but if you choose to use one, you must have enough self confidence to recognize when the grammar checker has misinterpreted your meaning. After all, grammar checkers are NOT human, and they don’t catch all the nuances of what we humans write.

That said, I recently reviewed, which bills itself as “the world’s most accurate online grammar checker.” I tried it out on several pieces of my own writing as well as a newspaper article. It spotted one overlooked typo and offered good suggestions for two overly wordy sentences. It also detected an incorrect indefinite article (A vs. AN). However, it declared EVERY proper noun I used (e.g. TALLASSEE, TUKABAHCHI, and WOODALL) to be a misspelling. Using the scoring system to rate myself, I ended up with a horrible score, based mostly on properly spelled proper nouns that were declared incorrect. failed to spot a missing apostrophe in this sentence from an article about new education standards in Alabama:

“The change is intended to more closely align students education with the ACT, improving high school seniors’ scores….”

SENIORS’ SCORES is correct, with the apostrophe after the S, but STUDENTS EDUCATION should also be possessive (STUDENTS’ EDUCATION). As I write this, I see that the Word grammar checker put a green squiggly line under that one, but overall, I don't think Word's grammar checker is as effective as this one. also missed the incorrect plural form in this sentence:

“However, the director of student academic support at Auburn University said low ACT scores tend to be a better indicators of which students won’t perform well in college than high ACT scores are of which students will do well.”

A BETTER INDICATORS (plural) should be simply BETTER INDICATORS without A in front.

I do think does an excellent job of explaining the errors it spots, and the examples it offers for correction are clear and easy to understand. As someone who writes virtually every day, I would say Grammarly could be a useful tool IF you keep your own brain in gear and view Grammarly as a helper rather than a quick cure for all errors. 

I have an excessive number of complaints about this news article–three in one sentence!

Monday, November 12th, 2012

This sentence, from a recent article in The Birmingham News about excessive force complaints to the local police department, may prompt me to file a complaint with the newspaper about excessive examples of poor grammar and usage:

But a Fraternal Order of Police officials and an attorney for the city of Birmingham says the number of excessive force complaints are very low compared to the tens of thousands of arrests….

Where to begin? This sentence, as you can see, is bleeding red with my markings of what should be edited.

Whoops #1: I am not sure what should be the correct subject for this sentence.  We have OFFICIALS (plural), which comes after the article A, which should only be used with something singular. Either it is AN OFFICIAL, or it is OFFICIALS without an article. That is followed by AND, which connects that OFFICIAL or those OFFICIALS to AN ATTORNEY, so no matter how many OFFICIALS are involved, at least one of them plus the ATTORNEY equals two, so I do not understand the use of the singular verb SAYS. The sentence should read one of these two ways:

1. But a Fraternal Order of Police official and an attorney for the city of Birmingham say….


2. But Fraternal Order of Police officials and an attorney for the city of Birmingham say….



Whoops #2: If you put "City of" in front of Birmingham, it should be capitalized.

Whoops #3: The subject of the second part of the sentence is NUMBER, which is a singular noun. The subject is not COMPLAINTS. Therefore, that part of the sentence should take the singular verb IS instead of the plural verb ARE, and it should read as follows:

But Fraternal Order of Police officials and an attorney for the City of Birmingham say the number of excessive force complaints is very low compared to the tens of thousands of arrests….


Whoops #4 in this article occurs in another paragraph. It is important to word correctly when using prepositional phrases. Otherwise, the reader has difficulty figuring out what goes with what. Here is an example sentence from this article:

 Between Jan. 1, 2007 through Feb. 1, 2012, Birmingham Police Officers completed 2,449 Use of Force Reports.

The wording should be either BETWEEN…AND or FROM…TO. BETWEEN should not be used with THROUGH. The sentence should read one of these two ways to be correct:

1. Between Jan. 1, 2007 and Feb. 1, 2012, Birmingham Police Officers completed 2,449 Use of Force Reports.


2. From Jan. 1, 2007 through Feb. 1, 2012, Birmingham Police Officers completed 2,449 Use of Force Reports.

Choosing Correct Plural Forms–Even on Route 66

Monday, July 23rd, 2012

A friend sent a nostalgia email the other day with memories of the 1950s. Although I don't wish to admit having a pretty good memory of that decade myself, I do want to share the two "plural goofs" in that message. Here is the first one:

If you didn't grow up in the fiftys,
You missed the greatest time in history

 Whoops! I wonder if the person who put this message together paid attention in grammar class during the FIFTIES. As with most words that end in Y, the way to make FIFTY plural is to change the Y to an I and add ES. I wouldn't necessarily agree that the FIFTIES was the greatest time in history, but here is how the statement should read:

 If you didn't grow up in the fifties,
You missed the greatest time in history

 The second plural goof appears in the beautiful tapestry shown below:

Whoops again! As I keep pointing out, the plural of a word is NOT formed by adding an apostrophe AND an S. The word KICK is made plural by simply adding an S. The statement at the bottom of the tapestry should read this way:

Get Your Kicks on Route "66"

The Fifties had some great experiences, and I love traveling chunks of Route 66–especially at Temecula and Santa Rosa–but I'd like to think that maybe the greatest time in history is still ahead for the world.  Sure hope so.