Alas, The Aspen Daily News has fallen victim to an epidemic of poor English usage that has hit speakers and writers everywhere.
In the paper’s July 29 edition, in a story on changes in the coming ski season, I encountered this bit of grammatical goop: “Aspen Skiing Co. operating four separate mountains ... bodes well ...” Huh? Where’s the subject of the verb “bodes”? Ah, it must be “operating,” a gerund, defined as a verb form ending in “ing” and used as a noun.. That makes “Aspen Skiing Co.” a possessive, telling: “whose” operating the sentence is talking about. But where are the apostrophe and “s” signaling the possessive? Only with their addition does this verbal muddle begin to make sense.
Examples of such egregious misuse of possessives abound nowadays. On a recent “PBS Newshour,” Judy Woodruff asked rhetorically, “What will Congress role be?” And just yesterday, passing the Hotel Jerome, I heard a bellman say to a departing guest, “We appreciate you (not “your”) staying with us.” And here’s the piece de resistance, uttered recently by a Ph.D. of my acquaintance: “We did everything to guard she and her family’s health.” Ouch! That “she” really hurts.
These and countless other gaffes are so commonplace now that it may be impossible to reverse the trend. But if we care about the mother tongue and prize clear communication, we owe it to ourselves to try.