Tag Archives: redundancies

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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Redundancies Make Me Want To Scream!

screaming_womanDo you have days when what should be minor irritations really get on your nerves?

So do I.

Are you sometimes so bombarded by messages from every source — human and electronic — that you’re on constant overload?

So am I.

With the amount of communication we all need to process daily, we owe it to each other to make our messages concise. That means avoiding redundancies.

Reminder: To see if a word might be redundant, question whether it is necessary for the reader to understand your message:

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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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Report Of Alligator In Restaurant Delivers Plan vs. Preplan And Other Grammar Lessons

Alligator photo - alligator in the newsAn astute reader of this blog sent me a link to a report about an alligator named Albert who made a three-hour appearance at a new Midwest restaurant as part of a grand-opening event.

The restaurant owner could be considered short of possessing common sense, not to mention lacking understanding of safety and sanitation codes.

The writer of the article also could be considered short of something — short of possessing what my reader and I consider a mastery of grammar.

Consider this for starters: Continue

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Headlines: The Good, The Bad, And The Lessons They Offer

Headline errors provide grammar lessonsHeadlines, along with photos or graphics, catch your attention and draw you into a story.

An error in a headline is much more apt to be seen than an error within the story. I’ve always considered a headline error and a misspelled name the two most egregious mistakes a writer/editor can make — and this Ruthless Editor has made her share.

But errors provide grammar lessons, so when I read something that hits me wrong, I stop to copy/paste it into a Word document for future blog material.

Headlines that avoid common errors also catch my attention. Here’s my latest batch from online news and blogs: Continue

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Political Punditry Plagued With Redundancies

Redundant langauge at press conferencesUnscripted conversations rarely come off as smoothly or as grammatically correct as do planned remarks.

But those who make their living as political pundits, journalists or candidate representatives should have a pretty good handle on language and how they phrase their comments.

So why are we tuning in to the political commentary of the day and hearing a bounty of redundancies flying over the airwaves? Continue

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Reader Irritated by Redundant Weather-Forecast Terms

Weather icon - A look at redundancies in the weather forecast“It drives me nuts when my local weather forecasters use ‘evening hours’ to describe the weather in the evening,” a reader complains.

“They also say ‘morning hours,’ ‘afternoon hours’ and ‘overnight hours.’ Wouldn’t it be sufficient to simply use morning, afternoon, evening and overnight?”

Because of my ruthless editor’s acute sensitivity to redundancies, my first inclination was to agree. Then I started to pay attention to my local weather reports, and I noticed the same tendency to add “hours” to a time of day or time span.

Is this what meteorologists learn when they train to be television weather forecasters? I wondered.  Continue

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9 Flawed Headlines And How To Make Them Better

Man being threatened by big-footMy list of flawed headlines again has grown. From word misuse such as squash vs. quash and cement vs. concrete; to mismatching a noun, verb and pronoun; to the redundancy lagging behind, this ruthless editor finds multiple grammar lessons.

Today’s rapid news cycle likely is somewhat to blame. “Haste makes waste,” anyone?

Some examples deal with politically charged topics. Please know that they are selected wholly on the basis of form, not content. Continue

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