Friday, May 02, 2008

Leaving Room

I've been waiting all night for someone like you
But you'll have to do.

-- The Psychedelic Furs

We maintain distinctions not only to get things right this time, but also to leave room for next time, when we might mean the thing we don't mean this time. Did the youth in the (entirely correct) headline above lose his job? Of course not. But that's what readers are trained to read if publications omit helping verbs from headlines willy-nilly.

Does the above lyric make you smile, or at least make the slightest bit of sense? It does, but only if you have some inkling that like is not the same thing as such as.


noneemac said...

It "makes" me smile!

"make" would be a very helping verb in your sentence.

Bill said...

See: I told you everybody needs an editor!

Lynn Klyde-Silverstein said...

I had no trouble with the police headline. I learned to avoid using helping verbs in headlines, unless leaving them out makes the head unclear.