Beware of non-words

Grammar Cop has cited writers in the past for using words that aren’t words. Irregardless is one, although it’s widely used and accepted (much to Grammar Cop’s dismay). Reoccur is another. Neither is a real word, but writers use irregardless and reoccur instead of regardless and recur.

Here’s another. Unthaw. The word is  thaw.  Unthaw isn’t a real word. If it were, it would be a synonym for freeze. Supposeably isn’t a word, either. Supposedly is.

Watch out for those pesky non-standard words. When in doubt, check a reliable dictionary.

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It’s Unprofessional

It’s a little thing, but it disturbs me. Why why why can’t otherwise educated people spell the possessive form of it correctly? THERE IS NO APOSTROPHE! This morning, I received an emailed health bulletin to which I subscribe touting the benefits of a particular mineral. When I reached the last paragraphs, I read:
it’s amazing benefits…

It’s a little thing, but it isn’t a typo. It’s a spelling error. Why send out professional letters or print promotional material if you can’t spell correctly? It makes the issuer appear unprofessional. The fact that many readers accept or ignore the spelling error is particularly disturbing.

Grammar Cop is citing this offender. I now worry what other areas of the company’s output is sloppy or suspect. Before you comment that Grammar Cop is a nut job, please know that this isn’t the first offense for this publication. Everyone is entitled to a second chance, but I’ve seen it repeatedly.

ITS is the possessive form. IT’S is a contraction.

End of rant.

It’s not that difficult!

Grammar Cop has been on hiatus, but now she’s back and on a familiar rant. Apostrophes! Stop using apostrophes incorrectly. It isn’t that difficult. 

Do NOT use apostrophes for pronoun possessives: hers, his, yours, ours, theirs, its. 

Do NOT use apostrophes (except in cases of acronyms) for plural: ATMs or ATM’s 

It’s is a contraction of it and is. Its is the possessive of it. It’s not that difficult!

Rant over.

Are you tryptophantastic?

Dictionaries are updated almost daily now, and I find the new words fascinating. For instance, tryptophantastic. Spelling checkers underline it, yet it’s an acceptable adjective meaning contentedly drowsy or sleepy, particularly after eating turkey. I know this feeling!

As an RVer, I’ve long struggled with the correct spelling of motor home. Or is it motorhome? I’ve seen it both ways. As it turns out, motorhome is now acceptable as a compound word. Great news for dealers and manufacturers who’ve spelled it as one word for years, right?

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Now if the Lexicographers of the English language will accept bakeware as a compound word, I’ll be happy. Why is cookware acceptable and  bakeware not? I’ll check again tomorrow. 😉

 

Are Reticent and Reluctant Synonyms?

Recent posts have been about misused and misunderstood words, inspired by the American Heritage Dictionaries* editors.Here’s another to add to your vocabulary: reticent and reluctant.

Are reticent and reluctant synonyms? Well…yes and no. Remember my rant about decimate? The term that technically refers to removing one/tenth of a given population has evolved in usage as a synonym for annihilate. Usage has confused the word reticent, too.

Reticent people are reserved, especially among strangers. They may be reluctant to talk about themselves, but that doesn’t make them reluctant in all things.

So don’t apply the adjective reticent when you mean reluctant. I am not reticent, but I’m reluctant to gamble large amounts of money in a casino.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention remiss, another word often confused with reluctant. Remiss means negligent or careless. If you’re remiss in your job duties, it may be because you’re reluctant to perform the work, but the two words aren’t synonymous. 

*Houghton Mifflin Books, 2004:100 words almost everyone confuses & misuses

Flammable or Inflammable?

Here is another word choice dilemma for you: Flammable and Inflammable. If you look up definitions for the words, they read the same: Easily ignited and combustible. Inflammable (or inflame), while correct, is confusing because of the prefix “in.” Some words  are made negative with the “in” prefix (Inert, inglorious, inconceivable). Inflammable, however, means flammable. So which is correct?

While inflammable is a word, Grammar Cop strongly suggests you use flammable. For safety reasons, you don’t want anyone mistaking inflammable for unflammable.

Those Confounded Compounds

Re-posting for the author who asked about awhile and a while.

Cheryl Norman - Grammar Cop

Do compound words confound you? For instance, when do you use everyday and when is it every day? Or the one I struggle with most–awhile. Or is it a while? As usual, the answer is: It depends.

Awhile is an adverb meaning a short period of time. It should be used with a verb.

She stopped working awhile and had a cup of tea.

A while (two words) can mean any length of time and acts as a noun.

She stopped working for a while and had a cup of tea.

Unfortunately, you’ll see awhile misused in the press. Ignorance? To save print space? Who knows.

Words like everyday or anytime are used as adjectives.

Red wine vinegar is her everyday vinegar.

Words like Every day and any day are two words when used as adverbs.

She uses red wine vinegar every day.
She uses red wine…

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