The Times, April 15

If you are going to try to show off by putting Latin phrases into your copy, it is a good idea to use the right one. ‘De facto’ means in reality as opposed to theory, for example ‘the country is de facto two separate states’. The phrase needed here is ‘ipso facto’, meaning ‘inevitably’ (literally ‘by that very act’). Or you could put ‘inevitably’.


Daily Express, April 8, 2017

As with many words and expressions, the ‘up’ is unnecessary. There is no such thing as a ‘downsurge’ from which it needs to be distinguished, so ‘surge’ is quite adequate.



The Times, April 14, 2017

Lovely picture, but the caption is short on detail. This one is much better:

i newspaper, April 14, 2017

This includes the interesting facts that the floor dates from 1850 and that it is normally protected by a wooden floor (I don’t know why it says ‘flooring’). The Times caption is limited by being only two lines, but there is no law of the universe which says a Times caption cannot be three lines. The style should not take precedence over the words.

Incidentally the woman in the picture is named Ann Lawton in the Times and Ann Lawler in the i, so one of them is wrong (or possibly both).


i newspaper, April 12, 2017

So who is this towering individual? I read through the whole piece but he is not named. (I give the rest below.) Turning to the internet version, I find Herbert Chapman is mentioned as a footnote, but even then his achievements are not spelled out (he led the club to its first FA Cup success and two First Division titles between the wars).

This is poor, and from an editor it is very poor. If you mention someone in this way, you must name him, and say why he is great, and not leave the reader wondering. In this very long piece there was plenty of room. The reader should certainly not have to look it up.



i newspaper, April 12, 2017

  1. Pooch is a silly old-fashioned word which belongs with toff and boffin – in the 1950s.
  2. ‘go for float’? A cursory read would have picked up that a word is missing.
  3. It is Windermere (mere meaning lake), not Lake Windermere. See Post #59 and Places in Style Matters.


Daily Express, April 10, 2017

Here the word ‘slower’ is used wrongly and correctly in the same story.

Slower is an adjective, for example ‘the race was run in a slower time’. However in the first instance it is wrongly used as an adverb to modify the verb ‘shrink’. The words that are needed here are the adverb and comparative ‘more slowly’. It is used correctly in the second instance, as an adjective to modify the noun phrase ‘brain cell loss’.


i newspaper, April 11, 2017

A ‘clime’ is a region defined by its climate. It is often used in the plural, for example ‘He departed for the sunnier climes of the Mediterranean’. So it cannot be used as a synonym for weather or temperature.


A jail housing some of Britain’s most evil killers has been offering them the chance of chemical castration in an effort to thwart their despicable urges. 

Frankland jail in Durham has instituted a new scheme which allows some of Britain’s most depraved inmates to undergo a form of chemical castration to sate their desires. 

Mail Online, April 9, 2017

To ‘sate’ means to satisfy a desire or an appetite to the full – the opposite of what is meant here. The appropriate word could be ‘suppress’, ‘subdue’, ‘curb’ or ‘extinguish’.

The word ‘jail’ and the phrases ‘some of Britain’s most’ and ‘chemical castration’ appear in both paragraphs. Almost the only difference between the paragraphs is the addition of the name of the prison in the second.

If a scheme is ‘instituted’ it is by definition new.

I would avoid words such as ‘depraved’ and ‘despicable’. They sound hysterical. I would replace ‘evil’ with ‘notorious’ for the same reason.