“A” for “Alert”


This week’s 60-second tip covers two occasions when the word “a” should signal an alert:

1. Watch out for abbreviations after the word “a.” I just read an article, for example, that referred to a NFL record. Yes “N” is a consonant, but we pronounce it “en,” so the pronunciation of the letter begins with a vowel sound. We, of course, should write a National Football League record but an NFL record.

2. Remember that a criteria is never correct because “criteria” is plural. When we have just one standard, we want the singular: criterion. So another NFL-related item I spotted this week was in error when it noted (regarding a former football star’s nomination to the NFL Hall of Fame, despite his currently serving a long prison sentence) that character is not a criteria.

And maybe correctness is not a criterion of solid sports reporting. Just kidding.

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