Sometimes, even the big boys and girls in publishing commit a language gaffe.
Sure, it’s cold comfort after you misspell someone’s name or forgot the “l” in “public” to find out that The New York Times
used “different than” instead of “different from.” But still, it’s good to know that an organization with an army of editors still gets it wrong on occasion.
And speaking of that occasion, Philip B. Corbett, the associate managing editor for standards at the Times
, revealed a trove of recent grammar and style errors from the pages of the Gray Lady. You can see all of them at the After Deadline
blog, but in the meantime here are a few to whet your appetite:
story offered this description: “Through the narrow corridors and battered shelves of the cozy store in the storied Brill Building in Times Square, a knowing worker will then peruse
and (more often than not) find the sheet music, vinyl record or CD the person is looking for.”
Corbett points out that “peruse” is not synonymous with search. “It means to read or study, and takes a direct object,” he wrote. “Not the phrasing we wanted here.”
Like vs. as if.
From a Times
story on Mitt Romney: “He made sure to accept a small piece of white bread and cup of water, representing the flesh and blood of Jesus Christ, from a member of the priesthood who looked like he was
about to accidentally pass him by.”
Corbett says to avoid using “like” as a conjunction in this case. Instead go for “as if.”
story noted, “Ms. Brown … has penned
two recent Op-Ed articles …” Corbett says the word “penned,” as in “wrote,” is journalese. “Wrote is perfectly good,” he said.
[Editor’s note: PR Daily will continue to use penned when appropriate.]
Different from vs. different than.
“Advocates for Mr. Ryan argue that he would … [cement] in voters’ minds an economic vision for the country that is very different than Mr. Obama’s
,” according to a Times
story that Corbett flagged. Drop the “than,” he said. Go with “different from.”
When describing the recent Summer Olympics, the Times
wrote: “Looking back at London 2012 … watching how the Duchess dressed may very well have been one of the Games’ most heavily spectated sports
.” There are a couple of problems with this one, according to Corbett. “The verb ‘spectate’ is probably best avoided, but in any case it’s intransitive and shouldn’t be used as a passive participle like this. (Also, the introductory phrase here seems to be a dangler.)”
To see the rest of the grammar and style missteps, click here