Not literally two words. Just the one word — “of” — used in two different senses. Both jangling. At least to me!
Recently I’ve been hearing statements like “I missed that bullseye ‘cause I’m not that good of a sharpshooter.”
And there was the case of a minor soap star confessing, “I’m not that good of an actress.”
Is this usage wrong? I’m not sure, but “of” is unneeded in both cases. The wording would be tighter as “that good a sharpshooter” or “that good an actress”.
But just as I’m mulling this, along comes a Newsweek headline: “The Moon may of had an atmosphere for 70 million years.”
Whether or not the first usage of “of” is right, this second is definitely wrong. I think! Hard to be sure of anything these days, given the triumph of descriptive over prescriptive grammar.
Just don’t blame the Newsweek reporter, Janissa Delzo. In her article’s lead paragraph, she notes that scientists “now believe that our orbiting satellite may have once had a thick atmosphere”.
“May have had” is correct. “May of had” isn’t. Delzo got it right; the headline writer got it wrong.
Folks who aren’t journalists typically assume that the writer of an article also composes the headline. This rarely is true; these are different writing jobs, performed by different people.
Probably I should post a screen-shot of the Newsweek headline: It may of been corrected by the time you read this.
But I’m just not that industrious of a blogger.
(This article is part of my series on words that are #worth1000pictures.)
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