Monday, October 25, 2010

It's Been 'A While'

Seems to me that not many people can tell you the difference between "awhile" and "a while." So it's surprising to me how often people seem to get them right anyway.

Today, someone at CNBC didn't:

Asset allocation strategists haven't had an easy time in recent years. They've grappled with deflation, recession, plummeting U.S. stock markets and surging
foreign economies. And for awhile they dished out bigger weightings to defensive plays-bonds, cash and commodities.

"Awhile" is an adverb. "While" is often a noun.

Prepositions like "for" take nouns or noun phrases as their objects -- not adverbs.

So after "for" you'd want the noun phrase "a while."

Here's how Webster's New World puts it:

Usage Note: Awhile, an adverb, is never preceded by a preposition such as for, but the two-word form a while may be preceded by a preposition. In writing, each of the following is acceptable: stay awhile; stay for a while; stay a while (but not stay for awhile).

So if CNBC can get it wrong, I guess it's still worth noting!

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Friday, October 15, 2010

Copy Edit du Jour

sybaritic pleasures

changed to ...

Sybaritic was a new one on me. So I looked it up. It means "devoted to or marked by pleasure and luxury." Good word. I like it. Still, I couldn't justify keeping verbiage that means "marked-by-pleasure pleasures."

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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Tumbleweeds Can't Edit

A day after I posted about an error in the Los Angeles Times, my friend Carolyn Howard-Johnson blogged about another error in the Times — a mix up of "descent" and "decent."

And that reminds me: A Times business story I was reading last weekend had "fun" in place of "fund."

The L.A. Times has laid off a lot of people in the last few years — partly out of necessity, partly to compensate for some bad business moves. The paper's downtown office, once bustling and exciting, now seems a prime location for tumbleweeds.

The inevitable result: typos.

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Monday, October 11, 2010

Faulty Parallel in My Paper

It's surprising how seldom I notice faulty parallels in print. But here's one from today's L.A. Times:

In animal studies, they have been shown to cause cancer, liver toxicity and
interfere with growth and development.
The list is set up as parallel items that attach to "cause": "... cause cancer, (cause) liver toxicity ..." But the third item in the list has its own verb, meaning it doesn't attach right: "... to cause cancer, (cause) liver toxicity and (cause) interfere with growth ..."


Best solution is to break up the list form:

In animal studies, they have been shown to cause cancer and liver toxicity and
to interfere with growth and development.
(Side note: Sorry I've been absent lately. Crazy, crazy schedule stuff.)

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