Usually I think Tim Gunn can do no wrong. I’ve especially enjoyed the campaign against rudeness he’s embarked upon in the last few weeks, calling out everyone from Taylor Momsen to Anna Wintour for diva-like behavior. But I just cringed to see the mistake in his recent Facebook post. It’s so common, but I expect better from such a conscientious character.
Can you spot the mistake? I’ve covered it before. And I even name-checked Project Runway in that post!
OK, so picking on celebrity Tweets is a little like shooting fish in a barrel, but Giuliana Rancic is not only a reporter — she’s managing editor of E! News and has a master’s degree in journalism. So there’s no excuse for this error. The correct way to write the possessive here is “Tiger Woods’ first interview” or “Tiger Woods’s first interview,” depending on which stylebook you follow. (The former is AP, the latter Chicago.) But “Tiger Wood’s”? Social media is still media, folks!
I suppose I should be thrilled that Gwyneth Paltrow devoted the entirety of her latest GOOP newsletter to singing the praises of Nashville, where she’s been filming for the past few weeks. Except, like that of so many well-meaning folks who visit here and love it, her delight comes across as a little condescending. ‘Wow, there’s actual culture down here!’
I’m a celeb reality show junkie, so when Kendra, which follows Hef’s former girlfriend-turned-NFL wife and mom, comes back for a second season, I’ll be sure to watch. But I’ll be tuning into the “premiere,” not the “premier.” When you are describing the first appearance or instance of something, either in noun or adjective form, it’s the premiere — with an e. The word “premier” means the best, the cream of the crop. It’s a great adjective that I actually think is underused, probably because people don’t know how to use it. (If you’re using premier as a noun and not referring to a political leader, it’s probably wrong.)
True story: I helped out with a magazine launch a few years ago, and the bosses insisted on plastering “Premier Issue” on the cover, no matter how much the editors argued. I guess technically that wasn’t wrong — to date, it was the best-ever issue of that magazine. (It was also the last.)
Today in the car, I played Kelly Clarkson’s “Already Gone” six times in a row. I know. I get obsessed like that sometimes. Of course, when I sing along, I can’t help but correct a grammar mistake in the second verse:
Looking at you makes it harder
But I know that you’ll find another
That doesn’t always make you wanna cry
“That” should be “who,” since it refers to a person — her ex’s next lover. “That” is reserved for things. If she hoped her ex would find, say, a movie that wouldn’t make him cry, “that” would be appropriate.
If you get tripped up, you can often look at the word just before that or who for a clue on which to use. Kelly Clarkson is a singer who sounds fantastic live. She wrote a song that everyone can relate to. “Who” refers to singer (a person), while “that” refers to song (a thing). Sometimes, as in the “Already Gone” lyrics, you need context to figure it out, but it’s pretty clear she means a person.
Just for fun, here’s Kelly doing a stripped-down version of “Already Gone” on Jimmy Kimmel.
Capt. “Sully” Sullenberger was on The Daily Show the other night. Like the rest of the country, I stand in awe of his Hudson River landing, but I cringed when he described being touched by the “enormity” of the response he’s received since the Jan. 15 incident.
This is a hot debate in word nerd circles, but I’ve always been a purist: I don’t like to use “enormity” as a synonym for “immensity” (as though it’s derived from “enormous”). To me, its most correct usage is describing something horrifying — you might refer to the enormity of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, for instance. But a quick Webster’s check has made me reconsider my hard-line stance. Webster’s suggests that “enormity” is appropriate if you’re describing something of a scale that’s considerably out of the norm. I still don’t think I’d ever use the word to describe something overwhelmingly positive, as Sully did, but I won’t limit its application to atrocities, either.