Friday, June 1, 2012

"Find" Nowhere to Be Found

Mike, from MovieShotsLA, was reading an article about NBA star Dwight Howard when he caught an error. Thanks, Mike, for making sure it found its way to me. In basketball parlance, nice assist!

The article excerpt is missing a comma after the second set of parentheses and needs single quotation marks before OK and after the period that follows decision, though that's not why Mike alerted me to this Associated Press article.

He "found" a problem in the last sentence. The key word in the last sentence is would. It functions as a modal, which is an auxiliary, or helping, verb that typically is used to express ability, possibility or necessity. (Examples of modals include can, might and must.) A modal always takes a bare infinitive (an infinitive without to) for the main verb. In the last sentence, listen is a bare infinitive. Found is not.

Modals. Auxiliary verbs. Infinitives. Even if these terms are as foreign to you as a rotary phone is to a teenager, I'm guessing you spotted the same error Mike noticed. All you had to do was perform a "sound check." The last sentence doesn't sound right with found. The word we need — the bare infinitive we need — is find.

I find the writer guilty by reason of inaccuracy.

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