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.

Small difference: The same applies to "different to", used in a news report on Thursday instead of "different from". The Prime Minister had answered a question about the Budget plan to limit tax relief on charitable donations. "He sparked speculation about a government retreat by adopting a markedly different tone to a Downing Street briefing 24 hours earlier." It does not matter much, but we might as well use the form that some of us pedants think of as "correct".

Doctor Whom: In similar vein, Sara Neill writes to point out that we wrote "who" rather than "whom" in a preview on Thursday to Will Self's television play, Minor Character. Again, that hardly matters, but, as she also says, there was a serious fault in the sentence, which said that the play features David Tennant, "who we meet while dressing for a funeral and having caustic thoughts about his social circle". The grammar leads the reader to thinking that it is we, the viewers, who are dressing for a funeral and having caustic thoughts. The confusion can be sorted out quickly enough, but the reader should not have to work so hard.

Better assumption: Just to prove that we pedants are not mere fault-finders, let me praise Tom Sutcliffe, who reviewed the previous night's television programme about the sinking of the Concordia. "'At this point, the situation is under control,' reassured the ship's loudspeaker over scenes showing that it was anything but." Sutcliffe commented: "Some people instantly assumed the worse." What a lovely subversion of the cliché, to "assume the worst", which would have been wrong, because the people were not necessarily assuming that the ship would sink – merely that the situation was worse than they were being told. Sutcliffe's precision is admirable.

Zombie apocalypse returns: A headline on Wednesday read: "Shares tumble across world as eurozone fears return." Writing good headlines is a harder job than most people realise, but it is always worth checking whether nouns could be read as verbs, or the other way round. In this case, I stumbled at first, thinking that the eurozone was afraid of the return of something.

Freedom of information: How much knowledge should we assume in people? There is always a balance to strike between insulting readers with egg-sucking instructions and leaving them baffled. On Thursday, a feature left me behind by quoting Hillary Clinton's text-speak: "Sup adam. nice selfie Stace :-)" It then went on: "There isn't space here to translate her post," which, in a whole-page article, was cheekily untrue. "Sup" may be short for "super", and a "selfie" must be a "self-portrait", but who or what is Stace? I think we wrinklies have a right to know.

News
scienceExcitement from alien hunters at 'evidence' of extraterrestrial life
Life and Style
Customers can get their caffeine fix on the move
food + drink
News
newsRyan Crighton goes in search of the capo dei capi
Extras
indybest

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Arts and Entertainment
Actors front row from left, Jared Leto, Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep, Ellen DeGeneres, Bradley Cooper, Peter Nyongío Jr., and, second row, from left, Channing Tatum, Julia Roberts, Kevin Spacey, Brad Pitt, Lupita Nyongío and Angelina Jolie as they pose for a
film
Sport
sport
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
Sport
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
Voices
A meteor streaks across the sky during the Perseid Meteor Shower at a wind farm near Bogdanci, south of Skopje, Macedonia, in the early hours of 13 August
voicesHagel and Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise, says Robert Fisk
News
peopleEnglishman managed quintessential Hollywood restaurant Chasen's
Life and Style
food + drinkHarrods launches gourmet food qualification for staff
Arts and Entertainment
Michael Flatley prepares to bid farewell to the West End stage
danceMichael Flatley hits West End for last time alongside Team GB World champion Alice Upcott
Life and Style
Horst P Horst mid-fashion shoot in New York, 1949
fashionFar-reaching retrospective to celebrate Horst P Horst's six decades of creativity
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
i100
Life and Style
Black Ivory Coffee is made using beans plucked from elephants' waste after ingested by the animals
food + drinkFirm says it has created the "rarest" coffee in the world
Life and Style
news

As Voltaire once said, “Ice cream is exquisite. What a pity it isn’t illegal”

Life and Style
food + drinkThese simple recipes will have you refreshed within minutes
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

C#.NET VB6 Developer (Software Developer, Software Engineer)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: C#.NET VB6 Developer (Software Developer, Softwa...

Service Desk Analyst- Desktop Support, Helpdesk, ITIL

£20000 - £27000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Su...

Service Desk Analyst - (Active Directory, Support, London)

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst - (Active Di...

Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost, Data Mining

£30000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost...

Day In a Page

All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
What happens to African migrants once they land in Italy during the summer?

What happens to migrants once they land in Italy?

Memphis Barker follows their trail through southern Europe
French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
Frank Mugisha: Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked

Frank Mugisha: 'Coming out was a gradual process '

Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked
Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

Radio 1’s new top ten

The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
Florence Knight's perfect picnic: Make the most of summer's last Bank Holiday weekend

Florence Knight's perfect picnic

Polpetto's head chef shares her favourite recipes from Iced Earl Grey tea to baked peaches, mascarpone & brown sugar meringues...
Horst P Horst: The fashion photography genius who inspired Madonna comes to the V&A

Horst P Horst comes to the V&A

The London's museum has delved into its archives to stage a far-reaching retrospective celebrating the photographer's six decades of creativity
Mark Hix recipes: Try our chef's summery soups for a real seasonal refresher

Mark Hix's summery soups

Soup isn’t just about comforting broths and steaming hot bowls...
Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'

Tim Sherwood column

I would have taken the Crystal Palace job if I’d been offered it soon after my interview... but the whole process dragged on so I had to pull out
Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition