Crikey is encouraging subscribers to send through your grammatical
suggestions. We know that most editions are too long and we need a
decent sub, but are there any other words or phrases that we overuse.
How about a ban on “dodgy” for a while? Do we overuse “lad” as well?
All feedback in the first ever Crikey grammar survey to
At the end of the day …
Your request for subedits comes at a most opportune time. I noted in
your morning edition today the use of the phrase “at the end of the
day”. I must protest. This cliche has ridden from the sport press
conference to the Parliamentary doorstop, to the business world and
adorns every news bulletin at least once. In so doing it has become a
tired, overused, insidious, boring and thoughtless anecdote.
Desist immediately from further use!
G’day Crikey (“G’day” is Australian for “Hi”, which is American, the
use of which in 99 per cent of Australian e-mails showing just how
Americanised we are).
You used to have a problem with flack/flak, using the latter for PRs
(flacks) when it is, in fact, anti-aircraft fire (from the German
FLiegerAbwehrKanone), but you seem to have got over it.
You occasionally use “underway” (no such word).
I think most of your blues are simply typos. Well, I hope so.
The Pedant (www.thepedant.com)
Those pesky collective singulars
Whilst your grammar doesn’t seem to be tooooo bad most of the time,
maybe you can become a beacon, a shining light, lifting the standards
My pet gripes are those who refer to the western most state of
Australia as “West Australia”, when it is of course “Western
Australia”. The ABC, appallingly so, is amongst the worst at this.
Then there’s the dreaded “collective singular” versus the plural. For example:
“The Australian cricket team is going to Sri Lanka.” NOT “are going to Sri Lanka.”
“The Army is in East Timor.” NOT “are in East Timor.” etc etc
Again, ABC people are the worst generally and ALL sports broadcasters
get it wrong! Keep up the good work, and watch out for collective
Wayward apostrophes and commas
Bewdy! Just keep getting your apostrophes and commas in the right places… Not many can any more.
It’s = It is (ie it is never the possessive form of It, which is
Its, in parallel with his, hers, and yours, etc., and that is why
your’s and her’s can be written, but don’t exist)
You could always start a little competition, either for a sentence
whose meaning is changed solely by punctuation (eg the well-known “The
wombat eats roots and leaves” or the less obvious “Waugh resigns!”), or
for a sentence which can be spoken but not written (I know of one only).
Either way, keep up the good work.
Watch out for the double-worder
Another common and incorrectly used double-worder is underway – instead of under way.
I also get grumpy with the phrase ‘one-off’ to describe something being
used once only. One off what? If one has to use such a
crude expression, it should be ‘one-of’, although I prefer ‘once only’.
Keep up the good work
Begging the question
I thought I sent you an email chiding you for misuse of the phrase
“begs the question” sometime last year. Oh well, here goes:
Begging the question refers to an argument in which the assertion is
already assumed in the argument. “Crikey is lying because he has
never, ever told the truth”
More appropriate phrases would be:
…poses the question….
…raises the question…..
But pedantry is boring, so who cares?
Keep it up,
Automotive Industry Drone
Just ignore those pedantic pedants
Forget the bloody pedant do gooders. If they have nothing more to
contribute than snide shots at what they claim are grammatical
mistakes, then so be it. Let the children (or maybe geriatrics?)
play if they want to, but forgive them if they do not have the capacity
to report ‘substance.’ Any fool can be pedantic and snipe at what they
think are minor errors in grammar. IF you have offended then so be it.
English is a living language and as long as it is good communication,
then why not use it. More power to your arm and your pen/fingers.
GO man, go.
Please Sir, can I have some more …
No your editions aren’t too long – if you start cutting things, it
might be the stuff I’m most interested in (media and politics)!
I’m prepared to put up with the pars on topics I couldn’t care less
about (eg. business), because maybe to large numbers of your
subscribers, they are a big deal.
Re your use of words like “dodgy” – it’s short, it’s sharp, and we know
exactly what you mean, so don’t worry about its overuse, unless someone
threatens to sue you for describing them thus.
Some helpful suggestions
A couple of words I reckon you guys overuse:
“lad” – sounds a bit blokey, and at times not appropriate to the person you are describing
“arguably” – one of the words the media use a bit to represent opinion
as something more. I reckon Crikey, as a media watcher, should do a bit
better. It’s a bit like the media reports stating that someone “is set
to” do something. Moreover, the use of arguably to me indicates
that the opinion expressed is uninformed or stated without research to
back it up. Perhaps “possibly” would be more appropriate in its place
some of the time.
That’s all I can think of for now. Otherwise, keep up the good work.
Correct use of quotation marks
Mate you asked for it… there’s an ongoing flaw in your copy about
which I’ve started to tell you a couple of times, but abandoned each
time in a fit of shame at my pedantry… but here goes:
When continuing quoting across paragraphs each paragraph should contain
a new opening quote mark <”> but no corresponding closing quotes.
For example, here’s how your style police item should appear:
STYLE POLICE LAY DOWN THE LAW
Lady Clayfield Ascot-Hamilton, our occasional Brisbane contributor and stickler for grammar, writes:
“OK, Crikey, Time Out! I have been an avid follower of yours since your
ill-advised tilt at tabloid newspapers, your whirl of government spin
and your spectacular political self-immolation.
“However, the time has come, on behalf of the many professional
grammarians on your subscriber list, to kindly request that as of
tomorrow, you cease and desist from using the word “afterall”.
“According to my Oxford, Macquarie, Fowler’s and Roget, the word does
not exist. We know what you are trying to say, and it is ‘after all’.
“Now, write it out 100 times for your homework.
“There’s a good boy.”
No lead feet here
I’ve written maybe 4 times about your using the word “lead” instead of “led” when you mean the past tense of the verb “to lead”.
But you keep on doing it!
“Lead” is pronounced “LEED” when it’s a verb, and “LED” when it’s a metallic noun.
I would suggest that the most over-used phrase in Crikey’s vocabulary is “Henry Thornton”.
Improving your vocab
“Dodgy”, although not in the best dictionaries, is one of the best
words for you to use, since so much of the political and business news
that you cover is, well, dodgy…
“Lad” is probably a bit threadbare though; it never hurts to extend the vocabulary.
My none too extensive education means that my own command of the
English language is not what it could be, and on the various blogs that
I write on, I am often plagued by spelling trolls. One of the crosses
we have to bear, I guess.
Words of wisdom?
Don’t touch the grammar, don’t touch the vocab – you will ruin
the whole thing. Can you imagine banks “making” a profit instead of
So what’s with this fey use of asteri*ks to protect the sensibilities
of your readers from reading naughty words like “pis*ed” and “b*tch” .
I expect to read such stuff in the Catholic Weekly, not Crikey. Pray
tell. We can handle it.
What’s with the all the f*cken asterisks?
You could stop using * in words like sh*t asterisks, p*ssed etc.
You’re not an American TV network and I can read between the consonants.
Love your work though.
CRIKEY: Crikey’s use of asterisks in our sealed sections is
nothing to do with being prudish (although Crikey has been accused of
this before). Many of our subscribers received their Crikey
emails at work and most businesses censor their emails and block
anything containing words that might be considered “inappropriate” such
as fuck, shit and so on. The asterisks are just an easy way to get our
message across to readers while fooling the computer filters.