You might expect me to be picky about word usage, being a lawyer and a writer. You'd be right, I am. Some pet peeves include:
"There's less people here than last time." It's fewer. If you can count whatever you are talking about, i.e. there's a specific number, it's 'fewer.' So, "There are fewer grains of sand on this beach," but "There is less sand on this beach."
"Her and David took the train." No, she and David took the bloody train. Take away the "and David" and read it.
"He gave a ride to Peter and I." Again, take away the "Peter and" and then you'll get it right.
So why do I care? Well, maybe I shouldn't. After all, it's high blood pressure for nothing, right? But yesterday I saw, for the millionth time, the media screwing up one that I do care about, because it's more than incorrect word usage, it's a factual mistake:
Saturday afternoon in the streets of Paterson, N.J., [mixed martial artist] Jon Jones and his trainers applied their gym techniques when they spotted a robber, chased him down and subdued him.
Thank you Yahoo News. Except the dude wasn't a robber. At all. He was a car burglar.
Does it matter? Well, it sure as heck does if you're charged with the offense. I can't speak to California law, but in Texas if you are a first-time robber you are looking at 2-20 years in the penitentiary. If you use a weapon, you face 5 years to Life.
If, on the other hand, you commit burglary from a vehicle as a one-time lark you cannot receive more that a year in the county lock-up (where you will actually do six months).
All the reports of this incident use the word 'robbery.' Is it actually a robbery in California? No, it's a second degree burglary according to my cursory research. According to one website, "Second degree burglary is most frequently seen in connection with Penal Code 484 shoplifting offenses." Not exactly robbery, then.
Is it laziness on the part of the media? Yes, I think it is. Laziness and a desire to make the story as dramatic as possible.
And as a lawyer and former newspaper reporter, it bugs the heck out of I.