Friday, July 3, 2009

Ancestry Insider Named to Top 101

Family Tree Magazine 101 Best Web Sites 2009

When I met Family Tree Magazine’s Diane Haddad earlier this year I admitted that each article I published was done in fear that my writing skills were lacking. She was a darling; she reassured me and told me not to worry.

So it was an especial treat when I received a letter from Allison Stacy, Family Tree Magazine Publisher and Editorial Director, informing me that for the second year in a row the Ancestry Insider has been named one of Family Tree Magazine’s 101 Best Web Sites.

There’s a couple of letters

But there’s a couple of letters I can read lest my head gets feeling too big. The first:

Hi. I love your column and read it ravenously whenever it appears in my email!  I know you will keep me updated on, as well as other matters. 

But......there IS one thing I wish you would do.  Not just you.  A lot of other people, too.....and that is:  PLEASE stop using grammatical structures such as "There's two new links....." as you did in this last AncestryInsider.  It should be "There ARE two new links...."  You need a plural verb (are) to agree with the plural subject (links).  The word "There" is merely a place holder, not the subject;  therefore, the verb should NOT be "is"  which you have used in your contraction "There's."

You are certainly not the only one I have seen forgetting the rules of subject-verb agreement.  Lately, I have seen quite a few folks slacking in their usage.  I consider you to be a "master" in many realms, and so I am bringing the usage problem to your attention simply because I know so many people read your column.  We tend to mimic those we admire.  I don't want anyone picking up any bad grammar habits from a "master" who simply slipped.

One of your greatest fans,


Dear Brenda,

Thank you for your fragrant argumentation about my flagrant augmentation, the implications of which, constant and casual contractions that they are, precludes the presumption of formality frequently associated with grammatical masters worthy of mimic; and for the greatness of your rhetorically ravenous fan-chi.

The Ancestry Insider (two words)

Mountain Climbing

Dear Ancestry Insider

In a response to 'Geolover' on 30 December 2008 on your blog, you said, in part, "... [b]ut you've peaked my interest. What do you know about's post-New Years plans?"

The correct word to have used here is piqued, not peaked.  The former is a transitive verb that means 'to provoke or arouse'; it comes to us from Vulgar Latin through Old French and means, literally, 'to prick or irritate'; while the latter is an adjective that means 'ending in a peak'.  I believe you meant the former.

The reason that "[s]ome things just drive me nuts ..." is that it is my belief that, as bloggers, we have an obligation not to mislead.

But, then, it's probably a minor point ...

Best wishes,
Lawrence Bouett
Lafayette, California

Dear Lawrence,

Are FamilySearch employees allowed to speak Vulgar Latin?

The Ancestry Insider

All things considered, I enjoyed Allison’s letter the best.


  1. In your response to Brenda precludes should be preclude as implications, the subject, is plural.


  2. Dear Randy,

    "Implications" may be the subject of the dependent clause of which "precludes" is the verb that would normally be matched except that great writers, who know the rules and follow them except under special circumstances, such as this case, might purposefully match "precludes," the verb of the dependent clause, to "augmentation," the subject of one of the independent clauses, as a subtle show of support to the anarchists in the back row of Mr. Hamblin's 8th grade English class, who didn't teach me how to diagram sentences like D. G. (on the Record Search team) was taught in Philly, which act of defiance might have gone unnoticed due to the subtlety of the rebellion, leaving me in your debt for catching and pointing it out.

    Thank you!

    That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

    -- The Insider

  3. Oh -- never mind. I found her mentioned at the very start! Not reading carefully enough.


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