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Mistakes were made

Our indefatigable readers are quick to point out our lapses. But as it happens, not all that disturbs them is in error.

An attendance issue

"Once proud of their community of freshly painted houses and well-kept yards, some Toddville holdouts are openly embarrassed by the presence of so many empty buildings. Windows are without panes. Roofs are bare of shingles. The tenacious Phragmites reed has crept past unattended fences to claim lawns and threaten small family cemeteries.

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"What would this sort of mistake be called?

"Untended fences are not the same as 'unattended fences' -- while I might enjoy attending an opera (well, maybe not...) or a baseball game (more likely ...)  this 'attending a fence' deal leads to some images straight out of Lewis Carroll.  Is it the Fence Queen and Her Court?"

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Response. Though not as common as it once was, the sense of attend as "look after" or "take care of" survives in the language.

Singular and plural

"How can you expect respect when a sentence with such poor grammar as 'The company and regulators revealed in March that a typical BGE customer would see a 72 percent rate hike in their monthly bill' appears in your paper? Parallel construction (a customer -- their bill??) is a pretty elementary grammar rule. Please. Edit."

Response.We have not embraced the construction at The Sun, but our resolve is eroding. You can find my post on this issue, from Jan. 12, 2006, in the archive. Since then, James Kilpatrick has given up the struggle, saying in a column, "Face it, fellow fogeys, our gonfalon is a gone gonfalon! The old order has indeed yielded, and now everyone has their own cup of tea."

Past tense

A caller questioned the usage in a sentence saying that a man stood, walked to the edge and "leapt" into the water. She wanted to know whether that should have been "leaped."

Response. Leapt has been an acceptable past tense for leap in English for going on to 500 years, though leaped may be gaining on it.

Hard to get hold of

A reader was outraged at a sentence in an article about basketball reading, "The slightly more orange, slipperier-when-wet ball the league has decided to use."

He found it difficult to believe that the reporter "cannot spell S-L-I-P-P-I-E-R ! What in heavens name is SLIPPERIER???????????????????????"

Response. Actually (cough) the comparative form of the adjective slippery is slipperier. Pronounced SLIP-ri-er, no doubt, but appearing in dictionaries spelled slipperier.

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