One of my newsroom snitches alerts to a problem in published Sun copy: that “we keep using ‘then’ when we mean ‘than’ lately.”
On average, a Baltimore resident dies six years earlier then other state residents, Mayor Sheila Dixon said yesterday in an address to the Johns Hopkins University's Bloomberg School of Public Health.
Sharfstein hopes the new numbers will help attract grant money to the city and spur outrage in the lower-income neighborhoods where life expectancy is lower then average.
By comparison, in 2006, Gilchrest and Democratic challenger Jim Corwin raised less then $400,000 between them.
This is a trivial error, and it’s difficult to point to such instances without feeling like a common scold. I know the arguments that English is a complicated and illogical language with maddening inconsistencies, that errors like then for than don’t usually impede meaning, and that many readers in fact speed along past such errors without even registering them.
That’s all true. But still, journalists, who make a living by words, have some obligation as professional writers and editors to master the elements of language, just as they are expected to verify the factual accuracy of the details in the articles they write and edit. Carelessness about any of the details is unprofessional.