LABELS: COPY EDITING, GRAMMAR, OBJECT PRONOUNS, SUBJECT PRONOUNS, WHO AND WHOM
"Who Cyril Ramaphosa should fire."
That was a recent headline for an Economist magazine article about the new South African president. But one of the biggest questions it raised had nothing to do with global politics. Why not "whom"?
The magazine's editors didn't wait for others to ask it.
"Some readers might have wondered whether someone should fire our proofreaders," they wrote in a follow-up. "Shouldn't that be 'Whom Cyril Ramaphosa should fire'?"
Keeping the staff "appraised." A cocktail "complimented" by a garnish. That garnish? Rose "pedals."
I seem to be stumbling into a lot of errors in my reading lately, both in the stuff I'm paid to edit and in stuff I'm reading that, presumably, someone has already edited. As always, these commonly confused terms are all great opportunities for the rest of us who want to avoid errors. Here's my recent column covering some of these.
LABELS: NATIONAL GRAMMAR DAY
Sunday, March 4, is National Grammar Day.
The holiday was started 10 years ago by author, super-mom, and all-around cool person Martha Brockenbrough, Founder of Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar, Brockenbrough started the holiday ten years ago as a way to help people focus on grammar learning. Organizations like ACES, the American Copy Editors Society, come up with creative ways to celebrate every year, like these fun punctuation cookies ACES aces showed off last year.
My personal recommendation on how to spend the holiday: Spend a little time thumbing through the front matter of a dictionary — especially the "How to Use This Dictionary" stuff. It helps you unlock mysteries like, for example, whether you can use "graduate" as a transitive verb or whether it needs a preposition "from" to connect it to an object.
Or, if that's not fun enough, go back to the cookies idea.
LABELS: COPY EDITING, GRAMMAR, SPEECH TAGS
"One of our pet peeves is the evolving usage of 'said' instead of 'asked' immediately preceding the utterance of a question," noted readers Bill and Julie, who gave this example: "He said, 'Where are you going?'"
"We are hearing this more and more often in everyday conversations involving questions, in TV advertisements and on social media. ... "Do you have any idea why? Is it because 'said' is easier to pronounce than the tongue twister 'asked'? We were taught one shouldn't say a question. A question should always be asked," they added.
I haven't noticed the same trend. But I do have some guidelines to follow for using speech tags well. Here's the column I wrote in response to Bill and Julie's question.