Tag Archives: pronunciation/mispronunciation

7 Headlines, 8 Grammar Lessons

In the past, I’ve used headlines to show how to — but more often how NOT to — write or speak. Examples teach best.

This post’s seven headlines comprise three good and four bad examples that involve correct word use, incorrect word use, and redundancies.

One headline boasts a double whammy: two grammatical errors in just nine words!

Please know that the frequent appearance of the name Trump is simply due to the fact that so many headlines have been and continue to be about him.


1) A Thai Shrimp Salad of Myriad Tastes

Myriad means many, a countless or infinite number. It also can mean both numerous and diverse.

Some would write or say a myriad of. However, when you consider the writing guideline of always expressing something in the fewest words, myriad by itself works just fine. Hooray for this headline writer!

2) Trump Offers Carson Role Of HUD Secretary Despite His Not Wanting It

What’s correct that warrants calling out? Many would think it should read:
Trump Offers Carson Role Of HUD Secretary Despite Him Not Wanting It

I consider this example noteworthy because it shows how to correctly use a possessive (his) with -ing words (gerunds) and why gerunds sometimes should be considered nouns.

Here’s how you can tell:
What would be another way of expressing Not Wanting It? Let’s try rejection to demonstrate how the sentence would be constructed with an obvious noun:

Trump Offers Carson Role Of HUD Secretary Despite His Rejection of It
When you view Not Wanting It as a noun, His is the best choice.

3) How Trump’s Labor Nominee Benefited From Undocumented Workers

I’m fond of saying that English is a confusing language, and this is a prime example. When you have a verb that ends in a consonant, you generally make it past tense by doubling the final consonant and adding ed:

plan, planned  |  slip, slipped  |  pop, popped

With benefit, you do NOT double the consonant for either benefited or benefiting.

Why not? If a verb ending with a consonant has more than one syllable, you don’t double the consonant if the first syllable is stressed:

ben-e-fit, ben-e-fited  | can-cel, can-celed  |  mar-shal, mar-shaled


4) Refugee Youths Find Safe Haven in Boy Scouts

Haven is defined as a place of safety or refuge, or an inlet providing shelter for ships or boats. Therefore, describing a haven as Safe is redundant.

5) Snatching Healthcare Away From Millions

To snatch means to quickly seize something in a rude or eager way, so Away is redundant.

6) Samantha Bee Slams Donald Trump for Diverting Attention Away from His Travel Ban

To divert means to change course or turn from one direction to another, or to distract someone or their attention from something. Therefore, Away is redundant.

7) Neither Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump are Talking Education

First, when you use neither, its companion is nor: Neither Hillary Clinton nor Donald Trump …

Second, when you use neither, the appropriate verb is singular: is, not are.

Neither Hillary Clinton nor Donald Trump is Talking Education

Think of it this way: Neither one is talking education.
The opposite would be: Both are talking education.

Other words that take a singular verb: each, either, everyone, everybody, nobody, someone

Consider sharing this blog with a colleague, friend or family member. And please excuse the seemingly heavy emphasis on Trump; he has dominated headlines.

If you see questionable headlines, send them to me: mailto:contact@ruthlesseidtor.com.

You’ll be helping demonstrate either good or bad writing … or maybe we’ll find the headlines just darned funny!

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Content vs. Contents: What’s The Difference?

moving_boxes_contentsA colleague who was helping a family member move brought up content vs. contents. In her role as a technology expert, she deals with content in terms of words and images incorporated into websites, blogs and other electronic media.

But as a moving helper, she was dealing with the contents of a house and garage.

My google search proved that a seemingly direct word really is anything but. Here’s what I discovered: Continue

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Got Grammar Pet Peeves? You’re Not Alone

annoyed_grammar_pet_peevesI invited those of you on my email list to share your grammar pet peeves, and the results are in!

First: What is grammar? Grammar encompasses the words we choose and how we punctuate them — how we string them together.

Words give our sentences meaning, and punctuation marks tell us when to pause or stop, when to raise our voice or show emotion, when we’re asking a question versus making a statement.

Here are your pet peeves: ways others speak and write that you find annoying. They’re alphabetized so you can skim and select what interests or resonates with you. I’ve commented here and there and added examples. Continue

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Prospective vs. Perspective And Other P-Words Worth Knowing

The Jesus Cow, and the use of preternatural. It means beyond what is normal or natural; extraordinary, exceptional, remarkable. A friend has been urging me to write about the difference between prospective and perspective because an announcer she listens to often — on National Public Radio, no less — apparently keeps getting it wrong.

While I’m in the p’s, I’m going to clarify one word — peruse — and add a couple I see from time to time that I don’t consider part of everyday conversations: prescient and preternatural. Hey, it never hurts to be a word or two ahead of the crowd! Continue

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How Do You Say These 13 Common Words?

woman listeningCommunication isn’t just about writing; it’s about eye contact, gestures — and of course speaking — and listening. As a ruthless editor, I pay attention to what people say as well as what they write.

Test yourself on these 13 common words. Are you saying them right? (In some cases, there is more than one accepted pronunciation.) Continue

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You Say EE-ther, I say EYE-ther: Who’s Right?

Guy With AnxietyMany of my blog posts address word use or misuse, or the wrong position of a word in a sentence. This post is about how certain words are pronounced — or mispronounced.

But not all grammar experts agree. The way you say either, often, height and palm could depend on where you live or what you heard growing up. Here is a ruthless editor’s view on how we pronounce these everyday words. Continue

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