Own your pronouns.

As an editor, you edit a manuscript once. Then you go back and read it again. Things you missed the first time now become obvious. It’s sort of like weeding a garden.

Here’s something I missed the first (and second, and third) time around.

Everyone was carrying extra ammunition for themselves or for the machine gun, bazooka, and mortar teams.

So, I’m reading along and bam! I realize that “everyone” is a singular noun and my client has paired it—yes!—with a plural pronoun.

Well, in this day and age, the default is “everyone was carrying extra ammunition for him- or herself”; the old suspended hyphen rule kicks in.

But wait a sec! Hang on to your hats! Stop the presses! There were no women there, so…the pronoun is “himself.” Absolutely and unequivocally. I’m a huge feminist and subscribe to a certain level of political correctness, but, baby, I’m more concerned with accuracy than anything else.

Own your pronouns.

Wassup at CNN??

To quote Lt. Ripley, “Have IQs suddenly dropped since I’ve been gone?”

I love CNN; shoot, I read the site multiple times a day, but the editorial quality there has taken a nose-dive that is unacceptable at one of the world’s premier news sources.

Why, just this morning I saw this:

This fact makes it obvious that either the President or someone close to him is responsible for the extra, arcing black line that was added to a hurricane forecast map which Trump held-up to show that federal weather experts had warned that Alabama was in the path of the lethal Atlantic storm named Dorian.

What, pray, does “held-up” mean? The closest meaning it could have, thanks to that hyphen, is the past tense of “hold-up,” which could also and more appropriately be spelled holdup. A child would know that that hyphen is wrong. He “held up” something, whether it be a forged map or the corner liquor store. The author is supposedly a book author, not a journalist, but that gives him even less of a pass. Yikes.

But that wasn’t the only profound punctuation or grammar issue I saw in my three minutes of reading and skimming. There was this gem, that sets the collective noun rule at naught:

Crew of doomed diving ship tell investigators they tried to save passengers

Sorry, Charlie, “crew” is a collective noun. A crew tells investigators. And it’s not a “they.”

Crew of doomed diving ship tells investigators about rescue efforts

Crew of doomed diving ship details rescue efforts (“attempts” would be good here, since the “efforts” failed.

Let your punctuation and grammar slip, and pretty soon we have a forger as commander-in-chief. It’s a slippery slope, people.

Crazy illiteracy at “HealthZap”! Worst writing in HISTORY!!

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Just by reading that first “teaser,” I know that “HealthZap” is not a credible source of information about health, well-being, wellness, or, really, anything. “No one” is a singular noun, so you can’t use “they,” which is a plural pronoun. And then there’s my favorite part: “them” referring to “a person.” Christ on a sidecar; who are these people???

And the second teaser reinforces my first impression. “Wont” is actually a word, but what was meant is “won’t,” and then…since when does a dog “brake”?

“HealthZap” could tell me that the sun rises in the east, and I’d want a second, and then a third, opinion. Why get up in the morning if you are going to write like this? Worst writing in the history of the planet!