Thursday, January 22, 2015

An Angry Man, Again

When choosing whether to use the article a or an, look to the word that immediately follows the article. If that word begins with a consonant sound, use a. If that word begins with a vowel sound, use an. Some writers havent gotten the memo. Ive shared a/an mix-ups here, here and here. Theyre everywhere. Id say theyre as common as Wang listings in a Chinese phone book. Im sharing a four-pack of a/an absurdity today.

These four make me want to utter a four-letter word. I wont. Actually, I will. T-E-S-T. I have created a test for my readers. If you are an English-speaking person, it should be easy to pick the correct articles. I am a tough teacher, and you must go 10 for 10 to get an A. Lets begin. (The answers are below.)

1. I am [a/an] writer. (Hint: Writer begins with a consonant sound.)

2. I am [a/an] editor. (Hint: Editor begins with a vowel sound.)

3. This is [a/an] historic day. (Hint: The h is pronounced.)

4. When asked, he provided [a/an] honest answer. (Hint: The h is silent.)

5. The town held [a/an] 1870s celebration to commemorate Albert Einsteins birth. (Hint: The word that immediately follows the article begins with a vowel sound.)

6. The Rubiks Cube was [a/an] 1980s fad. (Hint: The word that immediately follows the article begins with a consonant sound.)

7. The owners made [a/an] unfair offer. (Hint: Unfair begins with a vowel sound.)

8. The players made [a/an] unilateral decision to reject the deal. (Hint: Unilateral starts with a vowel but sounds like it starts with you.)

9. I purchased [a/an] DVD at the tag sale. (Hint: DVD begins with a d and sounds like it begins with a d.)

10. Philadelphia has [a/an] NBA team that hasnt won a championship in more than 30 years. (Hint: NBA begins with an n but sounds like it begins with an e.)

Answers: 1. a; 2. an; 3. a; 4. an; 5. an; 6. a; 7. an; 8. a; 9. a; 10. an

Monday, January 19, 2015

No "End" in Sight

The opening sentence, like the run-and-shoot offense popular in the NFL in the early ‘90s, lacks a tight end.

Our need needs were met on the second line. We didn’t need another need on the next line. Tight need came to a bad end. We were looking, of course, for tight end, a term for a football position. A tight end is a hybrid position; the player does some blocking and some receiving. One tight end may primarily block, while another may focus on catching passes. Every team has different needs. This sentence has different needs, too — and it shouldn’t. The writer, perhaps facing a tight deadline, put himself in an awkward position by awkwardly closing this football position, and now he’s never going to see the end of it.

Or will he?

Sit tight, readers. I have an idea.

We know that second need is not required. If we drop one of its e’s and flip-flop the n and remaining e, we’ll reach the end zone.


Friday, January 16, 2015

A Patterson Mystery

Ive come across what may be a typo in the 2012 John Patterson novel Private Games, which is about the murder of a high-ranking Olympic official hours before the opening of the 2012 Games in London.

Check out the first sentence in the photo. Its from the last page of Chapter 15.

I could be mistaken, but I think the repeat of “owned by shell corporations was unintentional. Perhaps its not a typo and Patterson meant to show just how deep the money trail went by having shell corporations, sometimes referred to as front companies or mailbox companies, own other shell corporations. I doubt it though. Im guessing IOC members owned shell corporations that owned overseas bank accounts — three levels of illegal activity, not four.

If Im right and this is an error, its difficult to fault the publisher, Little, Brown and Company. Patterson is a one-man assembly line, pumping out best seller after best seller at a breakneck pace. You try keeping up with all those drafts!

If Im wrong and this isnt an error, I shell out a public apology, Mr. Patterson.