Monday, May 27, 2013

Grammar Wall of Shame #1

Mistakes happen, I get it. But sometimes the mind boggles. Here are three recent examples of either poor writing or poor editing, two from The Globe and Mail, and one from The Guelph Mercury.

Exhibit 1: It's vs Its


   
No explanation necessary.

***

Exhibit 2: Hyphenation creates adjectives, not nouns

   
In this case, the hyphens are not required:

Any suggestions for getting off the beaten path?

If the writer wanted to create an adjective, then by all means go for those hyphens:

Any suggestions for a getting-off-the-beaten-path adventure?

***

Exhibit 3: Parallel structure gone wrong


Parallel structure adds depth and style to sentences, and it's a useful tool for constructing lists, but it must be used correctly or the sentence implodes, as it does above.

Kids, parents, young professionals, and seniors all have a plethora of activities at their disposal to entertain themselves with, create new social networks in, and to improve their health.

Think of it as a list with bullet points - and remember that in a list, each bullet point must follow the same structure.

Kids, parents, young professionals, and seniors all have a plethora of activities at their disposal to:

  • entertain themselves with
  • create new social networks in, and
  • to improve their health.

Item one is okay (although ending with a preposition is a bit awkward...)

Item two is okay (follows the same structure as the first item in the list)

Item three uses a different structure: it starts with to (i.e. infinitive form) and it doesn't use the preposition ending. One of these things is not like the others, and that's how parallel structure breaks down.

And don't get me started on plethora...!

Take care, writers (and editors); you're giving me way too much material for my Grammar Wall of Shame.

1 comment:

  1. By the way, is "off-the-beaten-pather" a grammatically acceptable adjective, even if rather "off-the-beaten-pathly awkward? Kind regards.

    ReplyDelete