A Press Democrat Blog

Cohn Zohn

Lowell Cohn's pertinent and impertinent take on sports

He, She and They

I sometimes get myself into grammar traps when I write. Here is a hypothetical example: “If someone goes to the supermarket in Alameda County, they will need a reusable plastic bag.” The grammar is wrong because someone is singular and they is plural. The agreement is off. It would be better to write “he will need a reusable bag,” or “she will need a reusable bag.” But each of those sounds awkward. The solution is always to use a plural:… Read More »

A grammar point

It’s Saturday morning. I was up late last night covering the A’s opener. I’m drinking my coffee and I’m reading a story on espn.com about Gregg Williams and that infamous tape shot by filmmaker Sean Pamphilon. Don’t worry, this is not another comment on Williams. It’s about grammar and how it is being mauled. The article does not have a byline. It is attrituted to ESPN.com news services. So I don’t know who wrote it. Here’s the offending sentence: “Pamphilon… Read More »

Why I don’t like the semicolon

KauaiRobert, Stan and Neal — my faithful readers. This is not a sports blog, so please be warned. It is about the semicolon. It really is. Turn back now if you are not interested. This topic has been on my mind the last two days — why I don’t like the semicolon and why I almost never use it. I’m not good at grammar, but to the best of my ability I don’t see what the semicolon accomplishes. I believe… Read More »