Friday Follies #82 – Making Grammar Great Again, One Hyphen at a Time

Hi, Friday Folliettes! It’s been a fruitful week for the Grammar Cop; her cup runneth over. (See what I did there? The semi-colon! Sigh… It is so under-appreciated!)

Now, regarding the over-runneth cup – this week’s haul ranges from the sublime to the ridiculous. Well, of course all these boo-boos are ridiculous, but I was referring to their sources: all the way from the New Yorker‘s website to our local rag print weekly, The Suburban. Let’s start with…

  1. NEWYORKER.COM: “I know that he’s taken some flack lately – no one is prouder to put this…”   And move along to…
  2. THE SUBURBAN: “…that’s expected to eventually become the first major food recovery program…”
  3. THE SUBURBAN: “…containing the music of the remarkable David Botwinik, whom at 96 years young is still…”

And the corrections are (the envelope please – and not the wrong one!):

  1. The correct word needed here is flak. Probably some flack wrote the article and didn’t know that when one receives criticism or opposition, one “takes some flak.” On the other hand, a “flack” usually refers to a second-rate journalist.
  2. Contrary to what we learned in elementary school, a “split infinitive” is not a crime. Placing “eventually” between “to” and “become” isn’t a problem. (Where the heck else can you put it that makes sense? Nowhere.)  No, the mistake I want to point out here is yet another example of hyphen-o-phobia: “food recovery program.” This phrase is ambiguous without a hyphen, which must go between “food” and “recovery.” The reason is that the program focuses on food recovery. We’re not talking about a “recovery program” that has to do with food. It’s a program that involves the recovery of food. There’s a difference – subtle, maybe, but it’s there. A well-placed hyphen clarifies!
  3. Really now. didn’t the “whom” jump up and hit you in the eye? Ouch! It did to me! The word “whom” should, of course, be who in this sentence. “Whom” is never the subject of a verb. The verb here is “is.” We would never say, for example, “Whom” is at the door? Or: “Wow! Whom just whacked the ball over the fence for a home run!” “Whom?” No, who! Clear as mud, maybe?

Well, no matter who you are, I hope you return to Friday Follies in seven days. Meanwhile, you may give me some flak in the comments below. I hope you have a food-filled seven days!

14 thoughts on “Friday Follies #82 – Making Grammar Great Again, One Hyphen at a Time

  1. I wonder how you notice such minute mistakes, really (and I hope I used correct grammar at least over here). I take it as a challenge to spot the mistakes before I read further on but I can’t boast about being correct at all times. But it’s fun to do and I hope it helps me improve a bit. Since your last post (or the one before it), I have been constantly reminding myself that media is not singular. So, I must be improving, I guess.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Loony! 😄 I feel funny calling you that, but it seems to be your name…twice! Lol. It makes my day to hear that my little grammar lessons are taking root! And glad you find the guessing game fun. Long live all media, including blog posts, right? Thanks for writing!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s not my real name and I stole it from Luna Lovegood since my real name is too long and unpronunceable even to my friends. But I don’t mind being called that😁.
        Please never stop these lessons; it’s the one time when I actually enjoy doing grammar exercises without a pressure to be correct unlike at school.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. The hack, whom shall remain nameless, took much flak for spitting his infinitives whilst his mouth was full of food. Food which, by the way, was recovered at the scene of the grammar crime of the century. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen flack and flak in the same sentence. I would have assumed I couldn’t spell. I missed that one. Number two was puzzling, because I didn’t understand the relationship of food and recovery. But, oh my! That whom hit me in the face. I don’t understand why it doesn’t SOUND wrong to the writer. As always, it was fun to play the game, and I’ll look forward to next Friday.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. My dear grammatically-gifted friend, each week I am embarrassed to call myself an ESL teacher. Thankfully my prodigies are 8- to 12-year old Chinese children who never catch my mistakes. 😀 I do enjoy your classes though!

        Liked by 1 person

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