A monthly column in which we attempt, however futilely, to defend the English language against misuse and abuse


Our January contest was tough. No one got a perfect score, but Luann Haney came the closest, so she wins a $50 gift card. Larry Kerchner was second and Charlene McGrady was third. Both will receive a $25 gift card.

Here are the answers. Incorrect words or phrases are crossed out, and, where appropriate, correct words are inserted in italics.

1. Letter in The Wilmington News Journal to Delawareans from Joe Biden: “We believe in respecting one another — because we know we’ll run into each other at the grocery store or church or little league (Little League is capped) game . . . although I am a proud Democrat, I promise you, I will be an American President, and work as hard for those who didn’t vote for me, [no comma] as those who did.”

2. An NFL official: “The previous play is under further review.” Further is redundant.

3. WDEL anchor Peter MacArthur: “Police are looking for whomever (whoever) pulled the trigger.” Whoever: subject of the clause “whoever pulled the trigger.”

4. Jim Gray, writing about Muhammed Ali in Sports Illustrated: “He would never again do another television interview.” Again is redundant.

5. Savannah Behrmann in USA TODAY:  “Neither Gore nor Republican nominee George W. Bush were (was) considered the president-elect.”

6. NBC Today co-host Hoda Kotb: “Al [Roker] was in rare form as usual.” If it’s rare, it’s not usual.

7. A commentator on ESPN: “Patrick Mahomes is a singularly unique talent.” There are no degrees of unique.

8. Post on McDaniel/Concord Manor Civic Association Facebook page: “The amount (number) of deer running out onto Naamans Road is out of control.”

9. Online ad for a gadget: “This Multi Opener has a durable and comfortable grip and opens six different types of seals and lids with ease.” Different is redundant.

10. Spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Department of Health: “We all know how important wearing masks are (is).” Subject of the sentence is the singular “wearing,” not “masks.”

11. Ad for Corropolese Bakery: “It takes us back to a kindler (kinder), gentler time.” “Kindler” is not a word.

12. Lorenzo Reyes, USA TODAY, about wide receiver Antonio Brown: “The NFL launched an investigation, which remains ongoing, to look into the matter.” Delete redundant phrase and move ongoing to make it: “The NFL launched an ongoing investigation into the matter.”

13. Host on WIP-FM: “That was the over-prevailing theme of the game.” Redundant.

14. From the Brandywine Zoo newsletter:“Mark is an avid (a) tennis enthusiast.” Enthusiasts are always avid.

15. CNN personality Chris Cuomo: “He was hoisted on (hoist with) his own petard.” The phrase, from Hamlet, refers to a bomb-maker being blown up (“hoist” off the ground) by his own bomb (a petard), and indicates an ironic reversal, or poetic justice.

16. Dan Patrick on his eponymous radio show: “He text (texted) me last night.”

17. Mayor of McAdoo, Pa., speaking of Joe Biden: “My constituents here along with me fear that him (he) and his administration will be quick to strip that freedom (Second Amendment rights) away from the American people.”

18. Associated Press story about Trump supporters:“In Phoenix, some have showed (shown) up at the State (state) Capitol with guns.”

19. BBC weatherman: “Within hours (a comma is preferred here) a storm with maximum wind velocities in excess of (exceeding) a hundred (100) miles an hour swept across southern England and Wales.”

20. A Republican strategist: “In fact, there’s a track record of him (his) being able to do that with McConnell.”

21. Mark Medina, USA TODAY: “Davis has become so dominant as of late . . .” “As” is acceptable (by some), but unnecessary.

22. Radio commentator about the injury to defensive lineman Myles Garrett of the Cleveland Browns: “His loss cannot be overstated enough.”

23. MSNBC reporter: “Together, t(T)his research team is collaborating on parsing out the data.” Teams should always “collaborate together.” Parsing means “dividing anything into the smallest components and analyzing them,” so “out” is redundant.

24. CBS 3 Philly online headline: “Pet Project: Is Your Dog Trying To Prove Its (It’s) More Dominate (Dominant) Than You?”

25. “You cannot flout the law like that.” Correct.

Word of the Month:
Pronounced a-POS-tate, it’s a noun meaning a person who renounces a religious or political belief or principle.

Follow me on Twitter: @thewaronwords

Need a Speaker for your Organization?
Contact me for a fun presentation on grammar: ryearick@comcast.net.

Buy The War on Words book at the Hockessin Book Shelf or by calling Out & About at 655-6483.

Bob Yearick
The copy editor of Out & About, Bob Yearick retired from DuPont in 2000 after 34 years as an editor and writer. Since “retiring,” Bob has written articles for Delaware Today, Main Line Today and other publications. His sports/suspense novel, Sawyer, was published in 2007. His grammar column, “The War on Words,” is one of the most popular features in O&A. A compilation of the columns was published in 2011. He has won the Out & About short story contest as well as many awards in the annual Delaware Press Association writing contest.

    More in:War On Words