Sunday, October 3, 2010
Just today I posted about a "polygamist" groom and the use of Stone Age spears in Alabama. Now who could resist checking that out?
See you soon.
Friday, July 23, 2010
Thanks for your loyal support, and I will look forward to seeing you on the new site.
Friday, July 16, 2010
Senior staff just before his news conference was set to begin were quietly informing reporters that (Tim) James had decided to end his challenge.
This sentence is difficult to read because the inserted dependent clause (printed in red) separates the subject STAFF from the verb WERE INFORMING for no good reason. It just does not fit in this position, and the focus ends up in the wrong place.
I would suggest rewording it this way and using a comma to set off the resulting nine-word introductory clause before the main idea:
Just before his news conference was set to begin, senior staff were quietly informing reporters that James had decided to end his challenge.
I hope you agree that this sounds much clearer. This is the kind of improvement that can be made if you make time to proofread what you write.
Sunday, July 11, 2010
This, of course, conjured up the image at left for me. Perhaps the Council member wanted the Council members to carry the weight of the city's financial woes literally on their shoulders much as the Titan Atlas was condemned to support the heavens on his shoulders.
Common sense (and a good reference dictionary) would suggest that the Council member meant to say that the city needed more fiscal responsibility--the word FISCAL referring to the treasury or finances of a branch of government. A quick read of most local newspapers would suggest that city (and county) governments need to take more responsibility for handling fiscal issues.
NOTE: Here again, as I have mentioned many times before, a spelling checker would not catch this error because PHYSICAL and FISCAL are both words.
A word of welcome to any new readers among those who participated in the Business Writing Workshop at Auburn University Montgomery last Thursday. It was a pleasure to work with all of you!
Monday, June 28, 2010
As I have said a number of times in this blog, I do not expect public figures to get the grammar exactly right when they are speaking out loud. However, the following quote from a comment by Mayor Bell last week illustrates a good point about parallel structure. I would hope that, if he were writing this sentence, he would word it in more parallel form:
"I'm asking for a full review by BOTH our legal department AS WELL AS our public works department."
BOTH and AS WELL AS should not be used together. Mayor Bell should have said one of the following:
I'm asking for a full review by BOTH our legal department AND our public works department.
I'm asking for a full review by our public works department AS WELL AS our legal department. (NOTE: I switched the order to get the emphasis on the correct department.)
That said, I wish Mayor Bell progress AS WELL AS ultimate success in solving the many problems of the city.
PLEASE NOTE: This blog site and my website are in transition this month as I work on a more functional design. That is why the number of posts has been slow. Please continue to check this site, and I will notify you as soon as the new blog and web sites are ready for display.
Monday, June 14, 2010
familiar issue--budget cuts in city government. Also sadly familiar is the
issue of subject/verb agreement which is handled incorrectly in TWO
sentences in this one article. The first sentence reads as follows:
Birmingham's financial challenges
and bare bones 2011 budget has made
it to the national spotlight.
This sentence has TWO subjected (CHALLENGES, BONES) connected by the word AND. Therefore, the verb should be plural. The sentence should read this way:
Birmingham's financial challenges and bare bones 2011 budget have made it to the national spotlight.
In the next paragraph, the reporter writes this sentence:
Mayor William Bell will appear on CNN's "Your Money" this weekend to discuss how a tough economy and low revenue is affecting cities nationwide.
Whoops again! The final clause of this sentence also has TWO subjects (ECONOMY, REVENUE), and they are also connected by AND. Therefore, the verb should be plural, and the sentence should read as follows:
Mayor William Bell will appear on CNN's "Your Money" this weekend to discuss how a tough economy and low revenue are affecting cities nationwide.
BONUS POINT: We should give this reporter credit for getting the usage correct by using the VERB "affecting" in this sentence.
Sunday, June 13, 2010
As the claims over the oil spill disaster mount for the energy giant, the company is torn between two tough choices: paying out settlements to those affected by the ongoing crisis, or give out dividends to its shareholders, which include public employee retirement systems and pension beneficiaries.
The two verb phrases highlighted in red should be in the SAME format, both ending in ING. The sentence should read as follows:
As the claims over the oil spill disaster mount for the energy giant, the company is torn between two tough choices: paying out settlements to those affected by the ongoing crisis or giving out dividends to its shareholders, which include public employee retirement systems and pension beneficiaries.
BONUS NOTE: Notice that I also removed the comma before the word OR. There is no logical reason for separating these two phrases with a comma.