Posts Tagged ‘apostrophe’

“Pokemon Go” Articles Need Copy Editor

Friday, July 15th, 2016

Pokemon GoThe Birmingham News must have been in a hurry to rush its Pokemon stories to press on Wednesday. Their copy on Page A2 is full of errors. The first Glitch is in a headline:

"Games digital popularity also warping real life"

Whoops! #1: Assuming the headline creator means the digital popularity of Pokemon Go (one game), this headline needs an apostrophe before the S in "Games." It should read this way: Game's digital popularity also warping real life."

Whoops #2: Although I am not a Pokemon expert (yet), I do know that the phrase "a Pokemon" refers to one creature and that THEM is a plural pronoun referring to more than one of something, like Pokemon (plural) in general. Consider this sentence"

"Once you catch a Pokemon, you can take them to a gym where they can battle other Pokemon."

Okay, so what pronoun is appropriate for a single captured Pokemon? I'm not sure that has been worked out yet–it? she? he? The best solution, for now, is to avoid the pronoun completely, like this: Once you catch a Pokemon, you can take your captive to a gym for battles with other Pokemon.

Whoops #3: I had to read this sentence a couple times to figure out what the reporter was trying to say. One apostrophe and the correct spelling of THAN would have solved the confusion:

"AR (augmented reality), as its known, is different that virtual reality in which a completely computer-generated world is created."

It should read this way: AR, as it's known, is different than virtual reality in which a completely computer-generated world is created.

Whoops #4: Subject/verb agreement is the crime in this sentence. PERMISSIONS is plural, but the reporter chooses the singular verb MEANS to go with it:

The permissions, according to Engadget, means Niantic has access to your Google drive docs, search history, private Google photos and other items tied to your account."

For grammatically correct agreement, the sentence should read this way: The permissions, according to Engadget, mean Niantic has access to your google drive docs,….

Whoops #5: The reporter of the side story made the correct choice with  IT'S (IT + IS) but failed to recognize that the second ITS (correctly possessive) refers to the plural word PEOPLE.

"Niantic issued a statement assuring people it's not accessing its personal information and will only have access to a person's Google user ID and password."

The problem here is that the use of ITS makes it sound as if Niantic is not accessing Niantic's personal information, but they are referring to the PEOPLE'S personal information. It should read this way: Niantic issued a statement assuring people it's not accessing their personal information and will only have access to people's user IDs and passwords.

Whew! And all those Glitches appeared on ONE page.


Reporter locates apostrophe correctly, then forgets the rule before the end of the sentence.

Tuesday, July 28th, 2015

One short article about taxes and sewage contains two Glitches.

Here is the first Glitch, which is puzzling because the reporter uses the apostrophe correctly in the first part of the sentence but then uses it incorrectly later in the same sentence:

Evans also said he met with the USDA about the agency's grant and loan programs to help with the towns old sewage system.

It is correct to show that the PROGRAMS belong to the AGENCY (agency's programs). Okay, so why would it not be correct to refer to the SEWAGE SYSTEM as belonging to the TOWN (town's old sewage system)? The sentence should read this way:

Evans also said he met with the USDA about the agency's grant and loan programs to help with the town's old sewage system.

This same reporter does not know the difference between THERE (location) and THEIR (possessive). Here is the second Glitch:

The USDA told the town in there meeting that they needed an audit to go forward.

Whoops! The meeting belongs to the town, so it should be spelled THEIR.


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

Wednesday, October 9th, 2013

brain in gear

I use Grammarly's free 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 Grammarly.com, 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 Grammarly.com scoring system to rate myself, I ended up with a horrible score, based mostly on properly spelled proper nouns that were declared incorrect.

Grammarly.com 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.

Grammarly.com 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 Grammarly.com 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. To try Grammarly.com, you can search "free grammar checker" or go to http://www.grammarly.com.


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.

 

 

 

 

 

 


The patients’ what? Apostrophe problems continue.

Tuesday, June 19th, 2012

Writers continue to misinterpret the correct location for an apostrophe. As I have said numerous times, an apostrophe should NOT be used to make a word plural.  Consider this example:

Payments were made, but patients' and their family members kept receiving notices that their payments were due.

 

This sentence simply refers to more than one PATIENT.  The way to make PATIENT plural is to add an S, not an S plus an apostrophe. Yes, the FAMILY MEMBERS belong to the PATIENTS, but the word THEIR takes care of that possessive point.  The sentence should read this way:

Payments were made, but patients and their family members kept receiving notices that their payments were due.

 

 


Apostrophe epidemic continues with YOU’RE for YOUR.

Tuesday, January 10th, 2012

As part of an email discussion about an upcoming workshop, I received this question yesterday:

Can you let me know what you're daily rate is?

Whoops! As I have "preached" before, YOU'RE is a contraction of the two words YOU and ARE.  It can only be used where the words YOU and ARE (subject and verb) would fit in a sentence.

This writer needed the word YOUR, which is a possessive pronoun that describes something (in this case, DAILY RATE) that belongs to YOU. The sentence should read this way:

Can you let me know what your daily rate is?

 

EASY REMINDER: YOUR and YOU'RE are not interchangeable. They have different meanings and different functions.


Possessive of ONE FAMILY is not FAMILIES.

Monday, January 9th, 2012

Here is part of a "Job Wanted" ad that appeared in my local newspaper this week:

Christian lady looking to clean one families home.

Whoops! The epidemic of apostrophe problems continues. This lady only wants to clean ONE HOME. The HOME should belong to ONE FAMILY. The proper way to show that ONE HOME belongs to ONE FAMILY is to add an apostrophe and an S to the end of FAMILY.

Changing the Y to I and adding ES makes the word refer to several FAMILIES, and I am sure the lady did not mean to suggest that this should be one HOME belonging to several FAMILIES.  The sentence should read this way:

Christian lady looking to clean one family's home.

 

 

 

 

 


Two apostrophe Glitches in one paragraph.

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

I make a point of not pointing out Grammar Glitches in what people say out loud.  However, when a reporter writes down what someone says, that reporter ought to use correct punctuation. Consider this paragraph from a front page story about Oak Mountain Missions in this month's issue of 280 Living:

"I'll be dressed up and help load items into the client's cars when they pull around to the warehouse," said Collins.  "You should see the look on some of the kids faces.  It means a lot to me."

Whoops #1: It would be quite difficult for one CLIENT to drive several cars around to the warehouse, but that is what is stated here.  We know the speaker is referring to more than one CLIENT because he uses the pronoun THEY later in the sentence.  It should read this way:

"I'll be dressed up and help load items into the clients' cars when they pull around to the warehouse," said Collins. 

 

Whoops #2: None of the kids I know have more than one face, so I suspect this speaker is talking about more than one KID. There should be an apostrophe (after the S) to indicate that the FACES belong to multiple KIDS:

"You should see the look on some of the kids' faces. It means a lot to me."

 




Plurals and Apostrophes. Oh my!

Monday, October 24th, 2011

 

I came across the following question on a LinkedIn discussion site this morning:

Whats  everybodies  opinion on printing and its impact on the Environment? Online Vs Print?

 Whoops #1:   WHATS is supposed to be a contraction of WHAT and IS.  Therefore, it needs an apostrophe to indicate where the letter "I"was left out.

 Whoops #2: The word EVERYBODY is treated as a singular pronoun (takes a singular verb), and it cannot be made plural even though it appears to refer to more than one person. The concept suggests "every single individual person within a group." In other words, EVERYBODIES is not a word and does not exist.

Accolade #1: The writer of this question did get the grammar right when choosing ITS (without the apostrophe) to modify IMPACT.

The question should read this way:

What's everybody's  opinion on printing and  its   impact on the Environment? Online Vs Print?

NOTE: If anyone wishes to comment on the impact of printing on the environment, I will be happy to pass the comments along to the LinkedIn discussion.

 


…the Vanderbilt’s what?

Tuesday, September 20th, 2011

Apostrophe Glitches continue!  Below is an advertisement for a party plan company that appeared in a local club newsletter.

The word VANDERBILTS (plural) refers to the elite family (more than one person) who built and occupied the Biltmore estate in Asheville, North Carolina.  The legacy simply began WITH THE VANDERBILTS.  There is nothing possessive in this sentence.

All readers please stand and repeat after me (AGAIN!!)–It is not necessary to use an apostrophe to create the plural of a word. I don't know where this bad habit originated.  Do any of my readers have a theory about this? 

I would also change the ampersand (&) before CONTINUES to the word AND. The last sentence of the advertisement should read this way:

 Be a part of the legacy of hospitality and entertaining that began with the Vanderbilts and continues today.