Today’s proofreading misses …

As usual, these are taken from national newspapers (and names have been changed). Yes, people are paid to produce this type of sentence!

Joe had first sexual experience with a 50-year-old aged 18.’
So was the 50 year old really aged 18? This sentence would be much better as:
Joe had his first sexual experience at the age of 18,  with a 50 year old.

I bought a device to block unwanted phone calls from BT.
So was it BT making the unwanted phone calls? Or did you buy the device from BT? (I know BT don’t have the best reputation these days, but I don’t think we need to buy devices to stop them calling us.) This sentence would be better as:
‘I bought a device from BT to block unwanted phone calls.’

Tiddles, a seven year old tomcat, was found severely in a bin by a neighbour of owner Jane Doe after he vanished from her home  …’
I can’t even guess which word was meant in place of severely! Perhaps the writer was relying on the spellchecker, but this should have been spotted by the editor.

As you can see, the changes are small, but important. Why should a reader have to work out what the writer means in simple sentences such as these?




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