i newspaper, November 23, 2022

Funny that this is about a sort of goldfish, a species which is supposed to have a three-second memory. This is a myth (they have good memories), but obviously it applies to the sub who handled this and failed to notice that the fish weighed 28kg at the start of the piece and 30kg at the end.

The reader has no need to be told in the headline that the angler was British. Unless told otherwise, one can assume the subject of a story in a British newspaper is British, not Mongolian.

The ‘i’ has the annoying feature of putting a tag above every headline (I think this is a device to soak up space so that it can get away with processing fewer words in copy). Was ‘People’ really the best tag? On a story about a fish?

Lastly, isn’t this a story that cries out for a picture? Is it worth using without? This is how Sky News did it (the story is almost equally bad but I have run out of energy).


Times, November 21, 2022

This is like another regular nonsense, ‘the priceless diamond worth £5million’. It beats me how you can write/let through the word ‘counts’ and have forgotten it six words later.


i newspaper, November 16, 2022

Times, November 16, 2022

I am really fed up with the cliché ‘going under the hammer’ in every story about an auction. Here are two on one day. Apart from anything else, even though it is only a figure of speech, it creates a visual impression, and neither cake nor jewellery come out of it well. Nor do paintings, porcelain, classic cars or any of the myriad items that are sold by auction.

In any case, it is not necessary to use the expression. In the first story you could say ‘is to be auctioned’ in the first reference and ‘sold’ in the second. In the second story you could say ‘is to be auctioned next month’. In both cases I would add the years of the weddings (2005 and 2011) to emphasise that these are rather ancient pieces of cake.



Spectator, November 5, 2022

This is a good example of a sub missing a chance to save the writer from an error. She has confused ‘can’t hold a candle to’, meaning ‘not nearly as good as’, with ‘I don’t carry a torch for’, meaning to be in love with someone, usually unrequitedly. Obviously the sub didn’t know what the expression ‘hold a candle to’ means, so he or she should have looked it up. This is the whole point of subbing – all writers make mistakes and we should stop them getting into print. All subs make mistakes too, but that is a different story.


i newspaper, November 3, 2022

If you have a picture with the King in it, you really do not need to point out that the other person is on the left. In my opinion this is a pretty lousy picture anyway and not worth using since you can’t see Bhaskar’s face.


i newspaper, November 3, 2022

This is one of the most common errors, and a sure sign of ignorance. A ‘palette’ refers to an artist’s paintboard or to a suite of colours; the word wanted here is ‘palate’ which is either the roof of the mouth or one’s flavour preferences. There is also ‘pallet’, meaning a wooden base for heavy goods in transit such as building materials, and that often gets a misplaced outing too.


‘It is just the latest piece in a growing body of evidence that disputes the official theory – pedaled by the WHO and some senior scientists – that the virus jumped from animals into humans . . .’

Mail Online, October 31, 2022

Mail Online, the gift to the Subbing Clinic that keeps on giving.  Two words that sound the same but have different meanings are peddle (to sell, often illegal goods) and pedal (to turn the pedals on a bicycle). The word needed here is ‘peddle’. However Mail Online, in its own brilliant way, has  compounded the error of using the wrong word by mis-spelling it. ‘Pedaled’ is the American spelling; in Britain the spelling is ‘pedalled’.



The Times, October 11, 2022

This man is in a class of his own in the Stupidest Intro of the Year contest. It’s as if he is roughly translating from Albanian. This is gibberish – the word ‘that’ must refer to the word or phrase it follows, so  we have trees coming out of trees. I would advise him to go to English classes if I were not sure he thinks he is God’s gift.