Being a professional grammar pest is too easy. All you have to do is turn on your TV newscast (assuming you’re not a cord-cutter), and these esteemed professionals will bombard you with garble and nonsense. In the space of about ten minutes this noon, I heard these gems:
A weather forecaster said the coming showers would be “hit and miss.” So which is it? “Hit or miss” is right. One small word, but as Mark Twain said, “The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.”
There was also this lede: “A woman shot and robbed after meeting two men from an online dating service.” Did she shoot and rob the two daters? Noooooo! This is an example of that godawful trend of eliminating verbs from sentences. What they meant was that she was shot and robbed.
I realize they’re trying to make it tight and punchy but this is counterproductive. Verbs add action and color. If these geeks were writing the Declaration of Independence, it’d say, “Truths self-evident. All men created equal.”
What’s almost as bad is when people verbify a perfectly good noun, especially “leverage.” This one really gets under my epidermis. Here are some pointers:
Wrong: “We will leverage our synergies to create meaningful advancement in the direction of our objectives.”
Right: “You need a whole lot more leverage to get Grandma’s false teeth out of that bratwurst, seeing as how* she’s still attached to them.” *Note: “Seeing as how” is perfectly correct English in South America, i.e., Valdosta and Biloxi, and for all of y’all up Nawth, that’s pronounced Bi-LUX-ee. There’s no lox in Biloxi and there are still no cows in Moscow. I know: the first part of that sentence isn’t kosher and the second is just milking an old joke.