08 September 2017

Autocorrect?

"Rookie Kareem Hunt, after fumbling on his first NFL carry, scored three times and set an NFL mark: Hunt’s 239 yards in his pro debut were a record since the 1970 merger."
There are several copyeditors who read TYWKIWDBI.   I wonder if the above passage resulted from an autocorrect in a word-processing program or whether some style manuals would insist on this usage of "were." 

If I were writing the sentence, my mind would place an unspoken (total of) before the 239 and change the verb to "was a record..."

9 comments:

  1. I am more focused on whether it should be is/are instead of was/were. As far as I know, he still holds the record, since no other games have been played yet.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. True. I didn't even think of that aspect. :-)

      Delete
  2. "Hunt's 239 yards" is the subject, but it should probably be "Hunt's 239-yard total", so it would be singular subject and it would fit for "was".

    That said, it's still passive voice, and repeating his name is unnecessary. A better sentence might be: "His 239 yards set a pro debut record for the merged NFL."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aaand I just saw your note about the assumed singular "total". Ignore that part.

      Delete
  3. I can't imagine a stylebook insisting on "were" for this sentence.

    I'm reminded of the newspaper story headlined "20 Inches of Snow Fall on City." The copy editor pinned the headline to the newsroom's bulletin board with this appended note: "Watch out for falling inches!"

    ReplyDelete
  4. BTW, the New York Times publishes a weekly copyediting test consisting of around 10 paragraphs from recent stories, each with an uncorrected and unmarked grammar, style, or spelling error. Readers are supposed to find and highlight the error; they have several chances for each one (including "Give up?"), and then a few lines appear identifying and explaining the error. It's nicely done. The choice of singular versus plural verb in a sentence similar to your example turns up frequently. Sorry, can't remember what day of the week the test appears!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Do you know what section it's in?

      Delete
    2. Nope, sorry. The teaser box is always on the front page of the online Times, in the right-hand column near the top, if that helps.

      Delete
  5. I would have fretted over it for a couple of minutes, then change the verb to "set" to avoid the problem.

    ReplyDelete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...