Notes from the newsroom on grammar, usage and style. (Some frequently asked questions are here.) One of my unhappy tasks is periodically reminding talented professional writers and editors that a verb should agree in number with its subject, and a pronoun with its antecedent. Even allowing for deadline haste, we trip over singular/plural problems far too often. There are many causes, but here’s one lesson to bear in mind.
Here’s the latest installment of our copy editing quiz, based on internal memos I send to the newsroom about problems in our writing and editing. Each of the passages below, from recent Times articles, contains at least one clear error in grammar or word usage. I’m not counting less-than-elegant phrasing that could be improved, or other more subjective editing judgments. You don’t have to explain the error or fix it; just click on the part you think is wrong. If I agree, you’ll see my explanation.
Notes from the newsroom on grammar, usage and style. (Some frequently asked questions are here.) My regular diatribes notwithstanding, misuse of the adjective “eponymous” is so widespread, in The Times and elsewhere, that continued resistance may be futile. But here’s one more salvo before I raise the white flag and move on. In precise, traditional usage, an “eponym” is someone or something that gives its name to something else. So “eponymous” describes the giver of the name, NOT the receiver.
Muck Rack makes it simple to find people, tweets, or articles that mention any name, keyword, company, hashtag etc. We've compiled this guide to help you make the most of your search.
Selecting a term
Start searching tweets, articles from media outlets, articles mentioned in tweets, journalists'
names, titles and bios with some suggested searches:
Companies or Topics (e.g. iPhone, Microsoft)
Phrases (e.g. "cloud computing") — use quotes to keep the terms together
Twitter handles (e.g. @username) — returns those who have mentioned or replied to
Names (e.g. "David Pogue")
Hashtags (e.g. #sxsw, #london2012)
Bio details (e.g. vegan, Olympics, father)
Muck Rack's Advanced Search allows for many boolean operators.
Find results that mention multiple specified terms, use AND or
+. For example, ensure each result contains both Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg by
searching Musk AND Zuckerberg or Musk + Zuckerberg.
Use the operators OR or , to broaden your search when you'd like either of
multiple terms to appear in results. (This is the default behavior of our search when no operators
are used). For example, results will contain either cake or cookie by searching cake OR cookie or cake,cookie
Use NOT or - to subtract results from your search. For
example, searching Disney will yield results about the Walt Disney Company as well as Walt Disney
World Resort. To exclude mentions of Disney World, search for Disney -World or Disney
When using one of these operators with a phrase, enclose it in quotation marks. For example, you can
find results about smartphones excluding Apple's iPhone 4S by searching smartphone -"iPhone
Exact case matching or punctuation
If you're searching for a brand name or keyword that relies on specific punctuation marks or capitalization, you can
find results that match your exact query by adding matchcase: before the keyword you're searching for, like matchcase:E*TRADE .
Use parentheses to separate multiple
boolean phrases. For example, to find journalists talking about having fun in Disney World or
Disneyland, search for ("disney world" OR disneyland) AND fun.
An asterisk can be used to search for any variation of a root word truncated by the asterisk. For example, searching for admin* will return results for administrator, administration, administer, administered, etc.
A near operator is an AND operator where you can control the distance between the words. You can vary the distance the near operation uses by adding a forward slash and number (between 0-99) such as strawberries NEAR/10 "whipped cream", which means the strawberries must exist within 10 words of "whipped cream".