Mr. Rewrite goes absolutely loony when a TV reporter or a wire service blurb reports on "damages" from a tornado, flood, hurricane, etc. So you can imagine his concern upon seeing a damage/damages error in a major retailer's parking lot ("We are not responsible for damages caused by carts.").
The result: Mr. Rewrite's first "on-location" video blog. The retailer made out well; upon seeing the sign, Mr. Rewrite walked into the store and bought his cool new Flip Video recorder to document the error.
Here's the deal:
- A person who drives his car into your swimming pool causes damage.
- You sue that driver for compensation, or damages, to make up for your loss.
That makes this passage more than a little annoying to Mr. Rewrite: "The tornado caused about $100,000 in property loss and $30,000 in damages to 36 vehicles ..."
Wrong, wrong, wrong. Unless this tornado caused monetary compensation to vehicles, Miss Tilly's flower beds, etc., the word is damage.
Google News makes it easy to cruise for those who didn't get the memo on damage/damages. Here's one fruitful search: caused damages.