Friday Follies #112 – Making Grammar Great Again, One Hyphen at a Time

Happy Friday, FF fans! The Grammar Cop’s grab-bag of gaffes is brought to you this week by the letter Y – for Yucky! Check ’em out.

  1. THE SENIOR TIMES: “The difference between an abbreviation with an initialism is that it isn’t pronounced as a word rather you say the individual letters such as USA (United States of America) whereas an acronym such as POTUS (President of the United States) is pronounced as a word.”
  2. WELLNESS/PSYCHOLOGY NEWSLETTER: “If you depend on praise to maintain your motivation, then you are handing over the reigns of power to other people.”
  3. MONTREAL TIMES: “…especially high school students who…”; ALSO “…in a safe deposit box and…”


The corrections are:

  1. A few things annoy me here. First of all: We don’t speak about a difference between X “with” Y. Rather, we speak of a difference between X and Y. Secondly, what does the “it” refer to here: “is that it isn’t pronounced as…”? It’s not clear that it’s meant to refer to “an abbreviation.” Therefore I’d write: is that the former isn’t pronounced as… Lastly, what happened to the punctuation in this sentence? There is not even a comma in sight. Look how much clearer this is: The difference between an abbreviation and an initialism is that the former isn’t pronounced as a word; rather, you say the individual letters such as USA (United States of America), whereas an acronym such as POTUS (President of the United States) is pronounced as a word.  (Ironically this was seen in a language-usage column by the self-professed “Word Nerd”!)
  2. Sigh. Your self-professed Grammar Cop has brought this to your attention many times… so of course YOU know what the problem is. The phrase should be reins of power, not “reigns” of power. The word reins refers to the leather straps used to guide a horse; used metaphorically in this sentence, it means you’re allowing other people to guide or lead you along. A reign indicates a rule by a monarch, e.g. Queen Elizabeth II’s reign has lasted for decades.
  3. Hyphen-o-phobia: eeeeek! My worst nightmare strikes again! “High school students” should be high-school students… unless you’re referring to school students who have partaken of a certain plant. 😀 “Safe deposit box” should be safe-deposit box… unless you mean a deposit box that is safe. Okay, in this example, you would be referring to that, but… you still need that hyphen, because “safe-deposit” is a compound adjective describing “box.” Trust me; the Grammar Cop very seldom makes mistaeks.

Time now for a lovely acronym, NAP (Nice Afternoon Pause). See you next week!

6 thoughts on “Friday Follies #112 – Making Grammar Great Again, One Hyphen at a Time

  1. 1-Besides being grammatically incorrect, this sentence was a snooze-fest as it was way too long. And the lack of a comma is a nightmare that no one wants during a snooze-fest.
    2-The Mermaid Queen takes great offense at this gaffe that left her slightly ill. Wellness Newsletter, heal thyself!
    3-The high students kept their stashes in the safe-deposit boxes. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha, your comments are right on the (exclamation?) mark! Yes, endless rambling sentences can make one fall into a comma! 😜 Oh, and by the way, take the reins and try not to get *too* high!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The problem with a lot of bad writing nowadays, is that the writers of the drivel “learn”, but don’t really understand, proper grammar rules. As a result, we, the highly intelligent followers of Friday Follies, sub-consciously attempt to make sense of all of the aforementioned drivel. The result is that much of the gobbledygook is reordered and corrected by our own brains without our even being aware of it.
    😦 😦 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So let me see if I understand this comment: you’re saying that bad writers produce good readers? I agree with your premise although I do think some of us are only too painfully aware of doing the silent corrections as we read. It can become so tiresome to edit as we go along, don’t you find? 😬


      1. In a way, yes. Although I’d rather read a good piece of writing than a bad piece because my brain gets tired even though it is unconsciously correcting everything. It’s like a computer: If the RAM and processor are vast and powerful enough, bad programming will be overcome with brute force. But as you add more load to the ask of the computer, things bog down and eventually crash.
        😀 😀 😀

        Liked by 1 person

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