Friday Follies #235 – Making Grammar Great Again, One Hyphen at a Time

Welcome to the Grammar Cop’s weekly collection of crimes against the English language. See how many you can spot.

  1. Every image of the crowd of tightly-packed Oklahomans holding Trump 2020 signs made one wonder how many among them was breathing in the coronavirus.
  2. They’ll trick you by pointing to their meter, since everyone knows to only get in taxis that has one.
  3. The patients and ourselves were both surprised by the intensity and prevalence of these findings, and that they were still very pronounced even though the original illness had been by then already a few weeks away.



And the corrections:

  1. This should have jumped out at you (hopefully you were able to swerve in time!): “how many among them was breathing in the coronavirus.” Why the singular “was”? The term “how many” implies more than one, so the verb that follows should be were breathing.
  2. Did you guess this one was about unscrupulous taxi drivers in developing countries? Well… it was. 😒 The problem here again is a singular verb that should be plural. (Maybe it’s the same writer as #1 above?) “taxis that has one” should be taxis that have one. Plural taxis and plural have. (I’ll let “to only get in” pass for now. It’s ugly but we don’t have time!)
  3. Clearly this abomination was written by someone whose first language is not English. Walk with me:
    • “The patients and ourselves were…” The pronoun ‘ourselves’ can never be used as a subject of a sentence. You’d need to say: We and the patients were…
    • “both surprised” The word “both” is only used to refer to two things. Here we have more than two. You can substitute all, or just leave the word out altogether.
    • “and that they were” The grammar is muddy here. Clarify it by changing it to: and by the fact that they were…
    • “had been by then already a few weeks away” This is so clunky; also, “a few weeks away” sounds like it refers to the future, but the intention was to refer to the past (“the original illness”). Here’s a fix: even though the original illness had been weeks before.

Whew! Or, as my fiancé says, Phew! (“Phew” always makes me think of Pepe LePew, the cartoon skunk character, so it doesn’t work for me. My “Whew” is more a sigh of relief, not “Ugh! What’s that smell?!”) By the way, do you know what it’s called when you write a ?! together? An interrobang. Actually one is supposed to be superimposed on the other, but my symbol collection doesn’t include that, so… Okay! I’m just rambling! Sorry! I’ll say goodbye now! Have a good week!



6 thoughts on “Friday Follies #235 – Making Grammar Great Again, One Hyphen at a Time

  1. 1-And that’s not all they were breathing in.
    2-The real trick is how this writer managed to get published.
    3-I have lost patience with this writer who is clearly suffering from a bad case of grammaritis.

    I use this “!?!” all the time! I had no idea it has a name!?! 😀
    ( I clearly suffer from exclamationpointitis!)

    Liked by 2 people

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