Errors & Omissions: It seems that some functionless words were born only to make trouble

Here is a common homophone error with very odd origins. An analysis piece published on Tuesday said: "If Mr Putin really does believe that the opposition to him is not borne of a disgruntled middle class...".

Errors & Omissions: Insure yourself against the strange use of the term 'third party'

This is not exactly an error, just a very odd usage that seems to have become universal. Throughout the Gareth Williams inquest, everybody, including the coroner, has been referring to the possibility that the MI6 man was killed and zipped up into a holdall by a "third party".

Police survey

In an article of 18 March we referred to a health and fitness survey conducted by the Met police and said that it found 75 per cent of the force to be overweight.  In fact, it found that of those who took part (around a fifth of all officers and staff) 75 per cent of the males surveyed were overweight.

Errors & Omissions: Different from and different to - they might just be the same as...

The admission last week that this column sees nothing very much wrong with "different to" has shocked the pedant community.

Errors & Omissions: In search of the final word on how to use prepositions properly

Prepositions can provoke violent loyalty and outrage. John Rentoul has been taken to task by another colleague in the office for having written in this space last week that it "does not matter much" whether you write "different from" or "different to". There are those who think "different to" is awful.

Errors & Omissions: Even the disinterested can be distracted now and again

In our excellent series about the failings of NHS nursing this week, we used "disinterested" to mean "uninterested", twice. It hardly matters, because no confusion of meaning is likely, but as long as there are enough people who care, we should try not to distract them unnecessarily. "Disinterested" means impartial, as in "not having an interest" in the outcome, whereas "uninterested" means lacking in curiosity. Thanks to Derek Watts, a reader from Lewes, for demonstrating that I am not alone in being distracted.

Margaret Hodge: less a grandmother than a senior politician

Errors & Omissions: When a factually correct headline masks a wildly sexist premise

"The granny with Sir Humphrey in her crosshairs" was the headline on the Monday Interview, the subject of which was Margaret Hodge MP, chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, who is gunning for Whitehall mandarins.

Nature Studies column

The Nature Studies column by Michael McCarthy published yesterday, under the headline, "Bees, pesticides and Defra's weasel words", said that the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) had placed a statement on its website on Monday denying the truth of a story published in The Independent last week, about the Defra Chief Scientist, Sir Robert Watson, asking for a review of the safety of neonicotinoid pesticides.

Errors & Omissions: Readers want to both gawp at pictures and learn a few facts

Many years ago, The Times had a reputation for publishing, in a spirit of superb hauteur, captions which did not condescend to tell you anything much about the picture. Maybe it was assumed that people who wanted to gawp at pictures rather than read text were not clever enough to want facts.

Julian Assange

Frank Warren

A reference was made in a sports article on 14 March that may have given the impression that Frank Warren played a part in instigating the recent press room fight between Mr Haye and Mr Chisora.

Errors & Omissions: Caught short by a literal translation that wasn't quite le mot juste

On Thursday, a news report datelined from Toulouse reported: "Authorities insisted no attempts had yet been made to seize Mohamed Merah, 23, believed to be the 'scooter assassin' who murdered seven people in eight days."

Errors & Omissions: The trouble with the adverb formerly known as formally

This is from a news page last Saturday: "Partly this is the nature of coalition government, which means that everything has to be formerly signed off by both parties." That should be "formally".

Corrections & clarifications: Jeremy Bowen

In an article earlier this week on the Counter-Terrorism and Specialist Security Awards due to be held next month, said by critics to be an "arms dealers' dinner", we wrongly stated that BBC journalist Jeremy Bowen had in the past agreed to be the MC at this event.

Errors & Omissions: If you go around begging, expect questions to be raised

Tuesday's Trending page reported that Scarlett Johansson is to act the part of Janet Leigh, star of Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho – "which beggars the question: is there a more intimidating role to take on than that of another celebrated actor?".

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