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


Let’s start the New Year with a contest.

Below are quotes from famous and not-so-famous people, plus one (the last one) that is made up. At least one is correct, but the rest are wrong in some way (grammar, spelling, punctuation, redundancy, etc.).

Your challenge: correct the incorrect quotes, and/or explain why they are wrong. Send your entry to ryearick@comcast.net by Jan. 20. The first reader with the correct answers will receive a gift certificate for $50. Two $25 gift certificates will be awarded to the second and third correct entries.

1. From a letter in The Wilmington News Journal to Delawareans from President (we can call him that beginning this month) 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 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, as those who did.

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

3. WDEL anchor Peter MacArthur: “Police are looking for whomever pulled the trigger.”

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

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

6. NBC Today co-host Hoda Kotb: “Al [Roker] was in rare form—as usual.”

7. A commentator on ESPN: “Patrick Mahomes is a singularly unique talent.”

8. Post on McDaniel/Concord Manor Civic Association Facebook page: “The amount 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.”

10. Spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Department of Health: “We all know how important wearing masks are.”

11. Ad for Corropolese Bakery: “It takes us back to a kindler, gentler time.”

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

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

14. From the Brandywine Zoo newsletter: “Mark is an avid tennis enthusiast.”

15. CNN personality Chris Cuomo: “He was hoisted on his own petard.”

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

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

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

19. BBC weatherman: “Within hours a storm with maximum wind velocities in excess of a hundred miles an hour swept across southern England and Wales.”

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

21. Mark Medina, USA TODAY: “Davis has become so dominant as of late . . .”

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, this research team is collaborating on parsing out the data.”

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

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

Department of Redundancies Dept.

“And there’s going to be other surprises you won’t be expecting”—Paul McGuigan, executive producer of the ABC series Big Sky. He also used the wrong verb—“there’s.”

Literally of the Month:

Hallie Jackson, MSNBC anchor and correspondent: “The other story that is quite literally brewing . . .” Hallie wasn’t satisfied with literally; she went quite literally.

Word of the Month:
Pronounced uh-SEE-dee-uhs, it’s an adjective meaning characterized by apathy, boredom, or sloth.

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.

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