AP ‘crash lands’ missing comma error

Punctuation matters: punctuation, matters.

The official Associated Press twitter account just tweeted this:


to their 3.54 million followers, when what they actually meant was this:

Dutch military plane [comma] carrying bodies from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 crash [comma] lands in Eindhoven.

Thanks to Jonathan Hitchcock (see comments)

Someone then realised that the missing punctuation gave the sentence a wholly different meaning, and quickly (9 minutes quickly) issued a clarification:


Which itself is hardly an example of perfect punctuation either.

4 thoughts on “AP ‘crash lands’ missing comma error

  1. A comma after ‘crash’ would be completely wrong. You don’t just go putting commas in places to indicate that words aren’t part of other words. The headline is perfectly grammatically correct, but it should definitely have been rewritten so it wasn’t ambiguous.

    (Putting the comma where you have suggested would result in a sentence like: “The guy with the hat, stood up”, which is like “The guy, stood up”. The comma simply has no place there.)

  2. Jonathan Hitchcock > Hmm. I’m not sure, that your synopsis, is entirely correct.
    But either way, it’s a horrible mess.
    Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to help my Uncle jack off a horse.

    No. Wait…

  3. WAIT I changed my mind. With *two* commas, you could make it work!

    “Dutch military plane, carrying bodies from Malaysia Flight 17 crash, lands in Eindhoven.”

  4. Jonathan Hitchcock > Aha! Ahahahaha! Yes! That works. I shall amend my amendment.
    Given that the account is “managed 24/7 by a team of editors”, you’d expect better.

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