April 21, 2015

Single/plural mistakes

This is becoming rampant. I see headlines every day that have a singular subject and a plural verb. People, it's not that hard. To show you what I mean, here's one from today's NY Daily News:

"Daring FDNY rescue save three from NY apartment blaze."

Now, I get why people do this but it's wrong. They think -- using the headline above as an example -- that "rescue" includes more than one fire fighter and therefore the verb should be plural. But the subject of the sentence is "FDNY" or "FDNY rescue". And either way, those are singular items. So the verb should be "saves", not "save".

This comes up with all sorts of words that imply more than one member. Couple, for instance, comes up all the time in this way. "Couple finally see Rihanna with clothes on". Nuh-uh. It's "couple finally sees..." 

Really, it's not that hard. Singular subjects get singular verbs, and plural subjects get plural verbs. So many newspapers screw this up. The scary thing is that I fear the papers' internal style sheets demand it. That's horrifying. It means there is no one in charge who understands the English language. And they're, you know, writers.

Anyway, don't fall for this. Be precise. There's a good lad!


Artichoke Annie said...

I know I hear that all the time. I thought maybe they had changed the rules. Hmmmm

writenow said...

This might help some people:
Couple - When used in the sense of two people, this collective noun takes pluralverbs and pronouns: The couple were married Saturday and left Sunday on their honeymoon. They will return in two weeks. In the sense of a single unit, use a singularverb: The winning couple has one week to collect the prize.Nov 23, 2007