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The New Yorker also got it Right

When I was a teenager, I recall seeing a commercial for the magazine The New Yorker that raved, “The New Yorker is the best magazine in the world today, possibly the best magazine of all time.” Or something like that. Regardless, it is a highly respected publication.

Wikipedia’s entry about The New Yorker says it’s known for, among many things, “its rigorous fact checking and copyediting.” Even if “copyediting” is two words.

So, imagine my surprise when a networker showed me a copy of the April 24, 2017 issue. On page 72, the sixth page of an article about a South Carolina family that has a tradition of barbecue and white supremacy, a sentence reads, “He explained that he’d got into barbecue as a challenge.”

Whoa. He’d got? Does New York have different rules regarding past participles? It’s he’d gotten.

Or is it?

I typed the sentence into an online grammar check. It came back error-free, but it also flagged it for plagiarism. Funny. It also didn’t flag copyediting as wrong.

I went to and looked up got vs. gotten. It said that gotten is correct in American and Canadian usage, but in England the past participle is usually got.

It continues, “That gotten is primarily used in North America has given rise to the mistaken belief that it is American in origin and hence new and inferior. But gotten is in fact an old form, predating the United States and Canada by several centuries.”

So, I’m right. The New Yorker is right. I can live with that.

Thanks to Richard C. for the idea.

Until next time! Use the right words!


May 29, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Better Written But Still Spam

I received the following (obviously) spam email. I usually point out how poorly written these emails are and how they’re clearly not written by someone with command of English, but this one is different. As best I can tell, there are only punctuation problems.

Dear valued member,

It has been a very long time since I emailed you about a rare investment opportunity.

You signed up to my newsletter because you were seeking to only invest in companies
which I can guarantee will go up and I only email you when I know one will.

The last stock I told you to buy went up about 1000% and this next one is guaranteed
a solid 1300% keep on reading to find out why.

INCT (incapta inc) is a drone-maker with proprietary algorithms which essentially
bring drones to life. These algorithms give the drones the capability to act
independent of a physical operator.

Because of they own this amazing technology which they developed in house, they have
been receiving huge attention from the US Army as well as several private firms
including DJI and Amazon.

A guy I work with at a mergers and acquisition firm in New York told me that INCT is
about to be bought out for $1.37 per share on Tuesday or Wednesday of next week. He
has always come through for me.

While INCT may currently seem stagnant, that?s because very few people know about
this imminent deal so don’t let that fool you.

I don’t expect the stock price to swing much in either direction until the takeover
is announced next week, at which point it will shoot up to around $1.37 overnight.

You know what to do if you want to profit when this happens.

Keep it on the hush, but do act quickly.

Best Regards,
Katheryn White

First of all, I didn’t sign up for any newsletter. You got my email address from someone else.

Secondly, and this is important: I received this exact email three times from three different names and email addresses: White (, Abe Ferguson ( and Hassan Whitaker (

I include the names and email addresses as a public service. Now, you can know that should you receive anything from these “people” and these email addresses, you’ll know to ignore them at least and report them at best.

You’re welcome.

Until next time! Use the right words!

March 23, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Time to Remember the World’s Capitals

In this week’s issue of Time magazine, the editors show how much a basket of grocery essentials costs in the world’s priciest capitals. It lists Seoul, Singapore, Paris and London.

It also includes New York City.

New York City?

Last I checked, New York City is not a capital. Last I checked, Washington is the capital of our country (New York is its largest city), and Albany is the state capital of New York. There’s also a New York County, which is basically the borough of Manhattan, meaning other parts of New York City are in other counties: Brooklyn is in Kings County, Queens is in Queens County, the Bronx is in Bronx County and Staten Island is in Richmond County.

Now, I know many people consider New York the financial and cultural capitals of the world, but those are unofficial. I also know that New York is one of the most expensive places to live in the world, but Time didn’t say “priciest cities.”

I’ll be looking for a correction in the next issue.

Until next time! Use the right words!

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March 22, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Does Your City Need A State/Country?

When writing names of cities, one might wonder if he/she needs to include a state after it.

The rule is simple: The more familiar the city’s name, the less likely it needs a state or country.

U.S. cities such as New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Miami and Dallas don’t require a state because it’s understood that enough people know these cities are  in New York, California, Illinois, Georgia, California, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Florida and Texas, respectively.

Similarly, cities such as London, Paris, Berlin, Madrid, Moscow, Jerusalem, Cairo, Shanghai and Tokyo need no countries because enough people know these are in England, France, Germany, Spain, Russia, Israel, Egypt, China and Japan, respectively.

The problems arise when you have cities that few have heard, such as Lubbock or Palmdale or Davenport. Do enough people know these are in Texas, California and Iowa, respectively? Probably not.

What about Birmingham, Athens or St. Petersburg? Are they in Alabama, Georgia and Florida, or are they in England, Greece and Russia? You need a city or country with cities such as these.

There’s no shame in needing/not needing a qualifying city/state. It just means you’re smaller but no less special.

Until next time! Use the right words!

June 19, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Where Does the Ball Drop in New York?

Since 1908, people have gathered in New York on New Year’s Eve to watch the ball drop and usher in the new year.

The ball drops down a flagpole atop the same building in that same famous location: Times Square, that major intersection of Broadway between 42nd and 47th streets.

Not Time’s Square and not Time Square.

I didn’t know this as a child. Growing up, my family watched the ball drop (three hours later on the West Coast) and Dick Clark say “Happy New Year” from what sounded like Time Square (go ahead and say it; that’s the way it sounds). And since I knew of a Time magazine, I never thought differently.

Until one trip to New York City in the early 1990s. I had heard there was a discount ticket booth, and I wanted to buy tickets for “Death and the Maiden,” starring Glenn Close, Richard Dreyfus and Gene Hackman (that was the entire cast). So I asked my friend where it was and he said “Time Square.”

I asked why it was called that and was told it’s for the New York Times, hence Times Square. But even then, the Times wasn’t in the square. It was around the corner at 229 West 43rd Street. Since 2007, the Grand Old Lady has been on Eighth Avenue between 40th and 41st streets.

I wonder why it  isn’t time to revert to its original name, Longacre Square. Bad timing?

Until next time! Use the right words!


April 11, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Difference Between “DUI” and DWI”

I don’t drink much, but I read plenty, and I often read news reports about somebody caught driving drunk. When arrested and formally charged, the letters DUI appear, although sometimes I see DWI.

We know what they mean: Driving Under the Influence and Driving While Intoxicated or Impaired. But do we know the difference? I didn’t, so I looked it up.

In some states, no difference exists. In other states, DWI is more severe than DUI. Law enforcement uses one’s blood-alcohol level (BAL; also called Blood Alcohol Content, or BAC) at the time of arrest to determine which it is. In New York, a BAL of .07 and below means a DUI charge, while a BAL of .08 or greater means DWI. In Minnesota, there’s no difference, so  you’re paying a large fine and serving jail time for either charge.

In Texas, they’re treated as separate crimes. One can be charged with DUI from drinking/taking drugs and driving in public areas. The penalty for this Class C misdemeanor is a maximum $500 fine and at most 40 hours of community service. DWI means you have lost control of your vehicle while under the influence and driving in public areas. This is a Class B misdemeanor in Texas and carries maximum penalties of six months in county jail and a$2,000 find. And that’s just for the first offense.

In my home state of California, the names are interchangeable but trigger cases with the courts and Department of Motor Vehicles.  Section 23252(a) of the Vehicle Code: You’re DUI if you can’t operate the vehicle with the same caution and prudence of a sober person. There’s also 23252(b), which says you’re DUI if your BAC was .08 or greater.

After you’re arrested, the DMV requires you to appear for a hearing before 11 days have passed since being accused. Otherwise, your license is automatically suspended. Convictions for first time defendants can include heavy fines, jail time, license suspension, vehicle impoundment, mandatory ignition interlock device, DUI school, probation, and community service.

It really isn’t worth it to drink and drive. Hopefully, you’ll never have to know your state’s DUI/DWI laws.

Until next time! Use the right words!


October 11, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Don’t Ask Mickey to put the “Mantle” on the “Mantel”

I’ve never given much thought to a mantel or a mantle. I also don’t regularly think about Mickey Mantle.

But I’m feeling mantle-ish, so I’ll mention the differences between the words.

We know that people often build mantels above fireplaces, but how many of us thought that mantel was spelled mantle? Are baseball fans (and Yankees fans in particular) more likely to misspell this word because of the great Mantle?

Anyway, a mantel is a shelf above a fireplace, a mantle is a cloak, and the late Mickey Mantle was a Hall-of-Fame centerfielder for New York who’s considered one of, if not the, greatest switch hitters of all time.

Now you know. Hopefully, you care (or you couldn’t care less).

Until next time! Use the right words

September 12, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Who Uses “Guerilla” Tactics on a “Gorilla?”

I have seen soldiers referred to as guerillas, rebels, freedom fighters, but I’ve never seen them called gorillas. However, I have read that soldiers use “gorilla tactics.”

I assume that means they pound their chests, walk on their knuckles, grunt, bark, scream, roar and eventually evolve to the point that they take over the Earth, turn New York City into a Forbidden Zone, and Charlton Heston discovers the Statue of Liberty buried in the sand.

Soldiers who use gorilla tactics will soon be killed by soldiers employing guerilla tactics. These are unorthodox methods that usually harass and sabotage more formal armies.

By the way, the word can be spelled guerilla and guerrilla. Take your pick.

Until next time! Choose peace not war, and use the right words!

October 28, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


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