Monday, December 21, 2009

I WISH THE VERY BEST TO YOU





The next entry of

Michael's English Usage

will be on

Monday, January 4, 2010


Please have a safe and happy holiday season.


Sunday, December 20, 2009

CORRECTIONS & EXPLANATIONS - December 20, 2009

Here are the corrections and explanations for last week's entries.

Monday

TAUNT/TAUT/TOUT

Taunt”, a verb, mens to carp persistently, to harass, to bait, to ride or to tease.
“They taunted the boy until so much that he completely withdrew from society.”

Taunt”, as a noun, refers to an aggravation or a mockery.
“The brute’s taunt of the little boy was cruel and demeaning.”

Taut”, which is always an adjective, means tight or distended or pulled tight.
“She had extremely taut stomach muscles.”

Tout”, as a verb, means to show off, to boast or to brag.
“The pushy political aide touted the seeming virtues of his boss and income provider.”

Tout” as a noun refers to one who a huckster or a seller of shoddy goods.
“The circus tout conned many a child into wasting his loose change.”


Tuesday

COMPLEMENT/COMPLIMENT

Complement”, as a verb, means to complete, to fill up or to make full.
“The shoes beautifully complement your stunning wardrobe.”

Complement”, as a noun, refers to a complete number or quantity, a supplement to make something complete or full.”
“The addition of one more egg in the carton made a full complement of a dozen eggs.”

Compliment”, as a noun, refers to praise, adulation or adoration.
“The shy hockey player took the compliment of his fan with typical humility.”

Compliment”, as a verb, means to express respect for, to praise or to esteem.
“I compliment you on your winning the race under such severe circumstances.”


Wednesday

The following pieces are either confusing, inconsistent, incomplete, poorly punctuated or structurally incorrect. Correct what needs attention.

“Spencer and Brittany must read daily, practise their musical instruments and arrive at school prepared. Balance, without sacrificing responsibility.”

The second group of words is not a complete thought; a verb is needed or the punctuation needs to be changed.

“Spencer and Brittany must read daily, practise their musical instruments and arrive at school prepared: balance, without sacrificing responsibility.”


“Assignments are effective only when they're engaging and meaningful, for example, deciding which strategy to use to solve a math problem, instead of rote repetition.”

The punctuation is incorrect; a colon should be used after “meaningful” instead of a comma.

“Assignments are effective only when they're engaging and meaningful: for example, deciding which strategy to use to solve a math problem, instead of rote repetition.”


“The only conclusive way to improve academic success, studies show, is simple: Reading with or to kids every day.”

“Reading” should not be capitalized.

“The only conclusive way to improve academic success, studies show, is simple: reading with or to kids every day.”


“A subject of a previous court order forcing him to provide a blood sample for the police DNA databank, Blair's blood on the broken glass linked him to the crime.”

There is no principal clause in this unit, so it is an incomplete thought.
A comma cannot be used in place of a full stop, which requires a period. A semi-colon can be used when the topics are related.


“Blair was a subject of a previous court order forcing him to provide a blood sample for the police DNA databank; Blair's blood on the broken glass linked him to the crime.”


Thursday

Identify and correct the errors in the following pieces.
There are four; I bet you miss one.
Hint: I just gave you a hint.


“So as of this week, the Ontario Labour Relations Board has two bitter City of Windsor disputes in front of it: The bad-faith bargaining charges filed by CUPE during its summer strike, and the PETU dispute.”

There should be no capitalizing after the colon.
The comma is not needed after “strike”.


“So as of this week, the Ontario Labour Relations Board has two bitter City of Windsor disputes in front of it: the bad-faith bargaining charges filed by CUPE during its summer strike and the PETU dispute.”


“Yes - the same benefits-for-life package that was at the heart of the CUPE strike.”

This is an incomplete thought; take out “that”.

“Yes - the same benefits-for-life package was at the heart of the CUPE strike.”


“Maybe not the same thing, but close enough to keep everybody happy.”

This, too, is an incomplete thought.

“Maybe it was not the same thing, but it was close enough to keep everybody happy.”


Friday

HISTORICAL/HISTORIC/HISTORICALLY

Historical” means taking place in history, from the past or having to do with history.
“There is doubt that the historical Knights of the Round Table ever existed.”

Historic” means having significance in history and usually refers to an event or to a person.
“Martin Luther King made historic contributions to the American civil rights movement.

Historically” is the adverb form of both words.
“Historically, the home teams wear their dark jerseys and the visiting teams wear their white or light jerseys.”


TAKE THIS TO HEART

“Ignorance never settles a question.”
This was penned by Benjamin Disraeli (1804 - 1881).


LAST WEEK’S WORDS

Gregarious” (adj.) Means social, avoiding of solitude, communal or needing social contact.

Chronological” (adj.) means arranged in order of time or in a time sequence.
Other forms are “chronologist”, “chronometer” and “chronoscope”. The simplest form is “watch” or “clock”.

Tantamount” (adj.) means being essentially equal, as good as or equivalent to.

Conjecture” (n.) refers to a hypothesis, an opinion based on incomplete evidence, speculation or supposition.

Colloquy” (n.) refers to a conversation, a dialogue or a group discussion.

Friday, December 18, 2009

GOOD FRIDAY CHALLENGES

HISTORICAL/HISTORIC/HISTORICALLY

"Historical", "historic" and "historically" are often interchanged and often used incorrectly.
What part of speech is each word?
Explain the differences in meaning among the words "historical", "historic" and "historically".
Use "historical", "historic" and "historically" in sentences that demonstrate their meanings.


TODAY'S WORD

The word for today is "colloquy".
What part of speech is "colloquy"?
Define "colloquy" and use it in a sentence.


CORRECTIONS & EXPLANATIONS

Corrections and explanations for this week's entries will be posted Sunday.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

SAME OLD...SAME OLD!

YESTERDAY...CONTINUED...

Identify and correct the errors in the following pieces.
There are four; I bet you miss one.
Hint: I just gave you a hint.


"So as of this week, the Ontario Labour Relations Board has two bitter City of Windsor disputes in front of it: The bad-faith bargaining charges filed by CUPE during its summer strike, and the PETU dispute."
Chris Vander Doelen, "Timing bad for PETU", The Windsor Star, Thursday, December 17, 2009.

"Yes - the same benefits-for-life package that was at the heart of the CUPE strike."
Chris Vander Doelen, "Timing bad for PETU", The Windsor Star, Thursday, December 17, 2009.

"Maybe not the same thing, but close enough to keep everybody happy."
Chris Vander Doelen, "Timing bad for PETU", The Windsor Star, Thursday, December 17, 2009.


TODAY'S WORD

The word for today is "conjecture".
What part of speech is "conjecture"?
Define "conjecture" and use it in a sentence.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

THE ART OF WRITING?

CONFUSING CONSTRUCTION

The following pieces are either confusing, inconsistent, incomplete, poorly punctuated or structurally incorrect. Read the following and determine the flaws in each. Be sure to correct what needs attention.

"Spencer and Brittany must read daily, practise their musical instruments and arrive at school prepared. Balance, without sacrificing responsibility."
Anne Jarvis, "Students' homework excessive", The Windsor Star, Wednesday, December 16, 2009.

"Assignments are effective only when they're engaging and meaningful, for example, deciding which strategy to use to solve a math problem, instead of rote repetition."
Anne Jarvis, "Students' homework excessive", The Windsor Star, Wednesday, December 16, 2009.

"The only conclusive way to improve academic success, studies show, is simple: Reading with or to kids every day."
Anne Jarvis, "Students' homework excessive", The Windsor Star, Wednesday, December 16, 2009.

"A subject of a previous court order forcing him to provide a blood sample for the police DNA databank, Blair's blood on the broken glass linked him to the crime."
Sarah Sacheli, "Violent offender set free on peace bond", The Windsor Star, Wednesday, December 16, 2009.


TAKE THIS TO HEART

Identify the author of the following aphorism.

“Ignorance never settles a question.”


TODAY'S WORD

The word for today is "tantamount".
What part of speech is "tantamount"?
Define "tantamount" and use it in a sentence.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

MORE SUBTLE WORDS

COMPLEMENT/COMPLIMENT

Explain the differences between the words "compliment" and "complement".
What part of speech is each word?
Use "compliment" and "complement" in sentences that show their meanings.


TODAY'S WORD

The word for today is "chronological".
What part of speech is "chronological"?
What other parts of speech can be made from this word?
Define "chronological" and use it in a sentence.

Monday, December 14, 2009

OFT MISUSED WORDS

TAUNT/TAUT/TOUT

Define "taunt", "taut" and "tout".
What part of speech is each word?
Use "taunt", "taut" and "tout" in sentences that show the meanings of the words.


TODAY'S WORD

The word for today is "gregarious".
What part of speech is "gregarious"?
Define "gregarious" and use it in a sentence.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

CORRECTIONS & EXPLANATIONS - December 13, 2009

Here are the corrections and explanations for last week's entries.

Monday

LIGHTENING/LIGHTNING

Lightening” is a verb meaning to make lighter in shade or tone, to make more cheerful or to make more pale.
“The inventor was always trying to find ways of lightening his teaching workload so he could devote more time to research.”

Lightning” is a noun referring to an electrical discharge from cloud to cloud, from cloud to earth or a flash of light accompanying an electrical discharge.”
“The lightning flash in the western sky was awesome.”


Tuesday

LITTLE

Little” can mean small in size or small in amount.

“He was a little boy.”
“There is very little sugar left in the tin.”

In the comparative and superlative forms, little has two different forms.

If “little” means small in size, the comparative is littler or more little and the superlative is littlest.
“That puppy is littler than his sister.”
“Dopey was the littlest dwarf in the movie, Snow White.”

If “little” means small amount of, the comparative is less and the superlative is least.
“There is less milk in that carton on the counter than in this one by the sink.”
“The lazy boy will do the least he can get to get by.”


Wednesday

DEFINITE/DEFINITIVE

Definite”, an adjective, means clear, precise or known with exactness.
“Her turning her back on the drunk was a definite rejection of his lewd advances.”

Definitive”, an adjective, means explicit, sharply defined, conclusive or putting an end to debate or questioning.
“His description of minute details of the murder scene was so definitive that there was no question as to his guilt.”


Thursday

FLAGRANT/BLATANT

Flagrant” means openly scandalous or notorious, conspicuously bad or reprehensible.
“The teacher’s flagrant behaviour led to his dismissal.”

Blatant”, an adjective, means offensively noisy, without any attempt at concealment and it usually refers to something that is done obtrusively and noticeably.
“The blatant disrespect by the mob for the politician resulted in the deployment of a large number of police to protect him.”


Friday

OFFICIAL/OFFICIOUS

Official” as an adjective means authorized or sanctioned.
Official as a noun means a person with authority to make decisions or to decide things.

“There are always French and English official transcriptions of parliamentary procedures.”
“The fire official authorized the deployment of the various trucks around the conflagration.”

Officious”, an adjective, means meddling in affairs that are not one’s business or concern.
“The officious old crone was always busily attending to other people’s business.”


THINK ABOUT THIS ONE

“Believe those who are seeking the truth. Doubt those who find it.”
Andre Gide, French critic, essayist, & novelist (1869 - 1951) wrote this.


LAST WEEK’S WORDS

Repartee” (n.) refers to adroitness and cleverness in replying, quick and witty answering or skill in making replies.

Histrionics” (n.) refers to a theatrical performance, a public presentation or artificial behaviour for effect.

Pillory” (n.) refers to a wooden instrument on a post for holes for the neck and hands where offenders were locked in for public scorn.

Pillory” (v.) means to expose to public scorn or to punish by putting in a pillory.

Idiosyncrasy” (n.) refers to an attribute, a peculiarity or a character trait related to an individual.

Libidinous” (adj.) means lewd, lustful, autoerotic or given to lascivious desires.
The root is the Latin “libido” meaning pleasure or longing.

Friday, December 11, 2009

WORDS WITH ATTITUDES

OFFICIAL/OFFICIOUS

Explain the difference in meaning between the words "official" and "officious".
Create sentences for each word that show you understand the meanings of the words.


TODAY'S WORD

The word for today is "libidinous".
What part of speech is "libidinous"?
Define "libidinous" and use it in a sentence.
What is the root word of "libidinous"?


CORRECTIONS & EXPLANATIONS

Corrections and explanations for this week's entries will be published Sunday.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

THURSDAY'S FARE

FYI

In case you are new to this blog, the set-up is simple: each day of the week I post a challenge in the use and knowledge of the English Language, be it grammar, sentence structure, understanding subtle differences between words or anything else that suits my fancy. I also list a word which is usually familiar but not often well-known and ask you to work with it.
Then, on the weekend following the posts, I publish the corrections and explanations for the week's entries.
The purpose is simple: to elevate and to improve the use of the English language.



FLAGRANT/BLATANT

Explain the differences between the words "flagrant" and "blatant".
What part of speech is each word?
Identify other parts of speech for each word.
Use "flagrant" and "blatant" in sentences that show their meanings.


TODAY'S WORD

The word for today is "idiosyncrasy".
What part of speech is "idiosyncrasy"?
Define "idiosyncrasy" and use it in a sentence.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A VARIETY OF CHALLENGES

DEFINITE/DEFINITIVE

Explain the difference in meaning between the words "definite" and "definitive".
Create sentences for "definite" and "definitive" that reflect the meanings of the words.


THINK ABOUT THIS ONE

Identify the author of the following philosophy.

“Believe those who are seeking the truth. Doubt those who find it.”


TODAY'S WORD

The word for today is "pillory".
What two parts of speech can "pillory" be?
Define "pillory" and create two sentences, one for each part of speech you identified.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

"LITTLE" CHALLENGES

GET A GRAMMAR FIX

If you need a grammar fix or just want to review a wide variety of grammar, sentence structure, punctuation use or correct word usage, check the archives listed on the right side of this page.
There are over 700 entries available for perusal. And there are tons of descriptive words to add to your vocabulary.



LITTLE

Define the word "little".
What are the comparative and superlative forms of "little"?

Hint # 1: there are two different forms depending on use.
Hint # 2: you are behind the eight ball if you do not know the terms comparative and superlative. Be sure you know what these terms mean.
Hint # 3: this is trickier than you might, at first, think. Good luck.

Create sentences using the comparative and superlative forms of "little" in all its forms.


TODAY'S WORD

The word for today is "histrionics".
What part of speech is "histrionics"?
Define "histrionics" and use it in a sentence.

Monday, December 7, 2009

LITTLE THINGS MEAN A LOT

LIGHTENING/LIGHTNING

Explain the difference in meaning between the words "lightening" and "lightning".
Use "lightening" and "lightning" in sentences that clearly show the meanings of the words.


TODAY'S WORD

The word for today is "repartee".
What part of speech is "repartee"?
Define "repartee" and use it in a sentence.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

CORRECTIONS & EXPLANATIONS - December 6, 2009

TAKE NOTE

I have received some comments that I would like to publish but will not because they are written in Chinese or Mandarin characters. Since I do not understand Chinese or Mandarin, I will not publish them.
ALL COMMENTS MUST BE IN ENGLISH OR I WILL NOT PUBLISH THEM. After all, this blog is about English usage.


Here are the corrections and explanations for last week's entries.

Monday

Explain and correct the error in the following piece.

“She's so overcome when he breaks up with her that she collapses to the ground in the middle of a forest and lays there all night.”

“Lays” is incorrect; it should be “lies”. “Lays” requires an object. “Lays” in place of “lies” creates some very interesting connotations which I will leave to your imaginations.

“She's so overcome when he breaks up with her that she collapses to the ground in the middle of a forest and lies there all night.”


APPRAISE/APPRISE

Appraise”, a verb, means to assess the value of something, to rate or to consider the worth of an idea or thing.
“I will appraise your Royal dalton collection of figurines and I assure you it is worth thousands.”

Apprise”, a verb, means to advise, to notify, to send word or to inform people of a situation.
“When you apprise me of the jury’s verdict, I will immediately publish it.”


Tuesday

Identify and correct the errors in the following piece from a news story about turning in guns for cash.

“No questions asked and no questions as to the amount of guns turned in.”

This is not a complete thought; there is no principal verb.
“Amount” is incorrect; “amount” cannot be used in referring to things that can be counted; it can only be used for quantities that can be counted in bulk.

“There were no questions asked and no questions as to the number of guns turned in.”


Wednesday

EMPATHY/SYMPATHY

Empathy”, a noun, refers to feeling like or understanding another person.
Empathize” is the verb form.
Empathic” is the adjective form.
Empathetically” is the adverb form.

Sympathy”, also a noun, means feeling sorry for another.
Sympathize” is the verb form.
Sympathetic” is the adjective form.
Sympathetically” is the adverb form.


Thursday

ALL TOGETHER/ALTOGETHER

All together” is a phrase meaning in a group.
“All together, the team raised a wonderful cheer.”

Altogether” is an adverb meaning completely or entirely.
“The jury ruled that the defendant was altogether sane and could stand trial.”


Friday

Identify and correct the error in the following passage.

“ ‘I agree with you, Premier, that five years is a long time,’ replied Harper, who irritated Beijing by criticizing the Communist regime's human-rights record and meeting with the Dalai Lama, among other things. ‘It’s also been almost five years since we had yourself or President Hu in our country.’ ”

“Yourself” is incorrect. “Yourself” is a reflexive pronoun meaning that it cannot refer to another but must refer back only to itself. The correct word to use is “you”.

“ ‘I agree with you, Premier, that five years is a long time,’ replied Harper, who irritated Beijing by criticizing the Communist regime's human-rights record and meeting with the Dalai Lama, among other things. ‘It’s also been almost five years since we had you or President Hu in our country.’ ”


A GOOD CONCEPT

“There is no calamity greater than lavish desires.
There is no greater guilt than discontentment.
And there is no greater disaster than greed.”

This line was created by Lao-tzu, a Chinese philosopher who lived from 604 BC to 531 BC.


LAST WEEK’S WORDS

Luciferous” (adj.) means bringing or giving light. It is from the Latin “lux, lucis”. The word “Lucifer” is derived from this word.

Foment” (v.) means to stir up, to agitate or to shake up, particularly public feeling.
Fomentation”, meaning instigation, is the noun form.

Pique” (v.) means to cause resentment, to goad or to needle.
Pique” (n.) refers to a sudden outburst of anger.

Fetid” (adj.) means a putrid smell, foul or stinking.
Fetidity” is the noun form.
Fetidly” is the adverb form.

Malodorous” (adj.) means having a bad odor or unpleasant-smelling.
The association of “malodorous” is to the Prime Minister’s use of the English language. "Fetid" would also probably apply.

Friday, December 4, 2009

"MY COUNTRY, 'TIS OF THEE..."

UNBELIEVABLE

I normally cite only professional writers for gross misuse of the English language, but this speaker is the Prime Minister, and I expect more from one who represents my country on the world stage.

Identify and correct the error in the following passage.

"'I agree with you, Premier, that five years is a long time,' replied Harper, who irritated Beijing by criticizing the Communist regime's human-rights record and meeting with the Dalai Lama, among other things. 'It's also been almost five years since we had yourself or President Hu in our country.'"
Stephen Harper, "Chinese, Canadian leaders exchange barbs", Canwest News Service, The Windsor Star, Friday, December 4, 2009.


TODAY'S WORD

The word for today is "malodorous".
What part of speech is "malodorous"?
Define "malodorous" and use it in a sentence.
Bonus: get a gold star for associating "malodorous" with the rest of today's blog entries.


CORRECTIONS & EXPLANATIONS

Corrections and explanations for this week's entries will be posted Sunday.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

WORD CHALLENGES

ALL TOGETHER/ALTOGETHER

Explain the difference in meaning between the terms "all together" and "altogether".
Use "all together" and "altogether" in sentences that show their meanings.


TODAY'S WORD

The word for today is "fetid".
What part of speech is "fetid"?
How many other parts of speech can you list for "fetid"?
Define "fetid" and use it in a sentence.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

PHILOSOPHY & FEELING

EMPATHY/SYMPATHY

Explain the difference between "empathy" and "sympathy".
What part of speech is each word?
What other parts of speech can you make of each word?
Create sentences for "empathy" and "sympathy" to show their meanings.


A GOOD CONCEPT

Identify the author of the following epithet.

“There is no calamity greater than lavish desires.
There is no greater guilt than discontentment.
And there is no greater disaster than greed.”


TODAY'S WORD

The word for today is "pique".
What part of speech is "pique"?
Define "pique" and use it in a sentence.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

COMPLETENESS REQUIRED

"EH?"

Identify and correct the errors in the following piece from a news story about turning in guns for cash.

"No questions asked and no questions as to the amount of guns turned in."
Jim Crichton, A News Monday, November 30, 2009, 6:26 pm.


TODAY'S WORD

The word for today is "foment".
What part of speech is "foment"?
Define "foment" and use it in a sentence.
Identify the noun form of "foment".

Monday, November 30, 2009

LET THERE BE LIGHT

MENTAL MEANDERINGS

Explain and correct the error in the following piece.

"She's so overcome when he breaks up with her that she collapses to the ground in the middle of a forest and lays there all night."
Anne Jarvis, "Portrayal of love twisted", The Windsor Star, Monday, November 30, 2009.


APPRAISE/APPRISE

Explain the difference in meaning between the words "appraise" and "apprise".
What part of speech is each word?
Use "appraise" and "apprise" in sentences that clearly show their meanings.


TODAY'S WORD

The word for today is "luciferous".
What part of speech is "luciferous"?
Define "luciferous" and use it in a sentence.
FYI: identify the root and the meaning should become clear.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

CORRECTIONS & EXPLANATIONS - November 29, 2009

CAUTION

I received a comment which was written entirely in Chinese or Mandarin or some character form. I have rejected that comment because I have no idea what it says or if it might contain a virus.
I thank the person for sending me a comment, but if one wants a comment published, it must be written in English; after all, this is an correct English usage blog.


Here are the corrections and explanations for last week's entries.

Monday

Identify and correct the errors in the following pieces.
You get a GOLD STAR if you can identify the irony in the last entry. You must be sure to read the entire entry to find it.
You go to the head of the class if you can explain what is wrong with the word order of example three.


"Just as it would be for a CUPE insider to whisper the union's plans to management in the midst of a bitter stand-off."

This is not a complete thought; it is only a subordinate clause dependant upon the preceding sentence for its sense.

"It is a legal no-no, just as it would be for a CUPE insider to whisper the union's plans to management in the midst of a bitter stand-off."


"But my sense is Jones is going to need that lawyer; unfortunately for him."

The semi-colon is incorrect; it should be a comma.

"But my sense is Jones is going to need that lawyer, unfortunately for him."

"A group of homeowners on Windsor's west side have hired a lawyer and will approach city council tonight to push for demolition of dozens of unsightly homes on Indian Road owned by Ambassador Bridge owner Matty Maroun."
Dave Battagello, "Group pushes for demolitions", The Windsor Star, Monday, November 23, 2003.

“Group” is the subject and it is singular; its verb must also be singular.
The word order makes it appear as if Indian Road is owned by Matty Maroun whereas the intent is that Maroun owns the homes.
The irony is that the title of the articles has the subject/verb correctly structured but it is incorrect in the body of the article. Al least there could be some consistency, one would think.


"A group of homeowners on Windsor's west side has hired a lawyer and will approach city council tonight to push for demolition of dozens of unsightly homes on Indian Road owned by Ambassador Bridge owner Matty Maroun."


Tuesday

AFFLUENCE/EFFLUENCE

Affluence” is abundant wealth or riches.
“The affluence of the neighbourhood was evident in the size of the houses.

Effluence” is sewage.
“The effluence back-washed into his basement and created a terribly foul smell.”


Wednesday

GRAMMAR REVIEW - ACTIVE AND PASSIVE VOICE

Active voice” refers the subject doing the action.
“He kicked the door so hard that it broke off its hinges.”

Passive voice” means that the subject receives the action.
“The cruel trained was kicked by the wild horse.”


Thursday

VERACIOUS/VORACIOUS

Veracious” (adj.) means conforming with truth, actual or genuine. It comes from the word Latin veritas.
“The Benedictine monk was a veracious witness in the trial.”

Voracious” (adj.) means excessively greedy and grasping, devouring or craving food.
“The lion pup had a voracious appetite for something so young.”

BONUS

Validation” is a noun referring to the finding or testing of the truth of something.
Valid” is the adjective form.
Validate” is the verb form.
Validity” is a noun form referring to the soundness of an argument.


Friday

BREAK/BROKE/BROKEN

Break”, as a verb, means to slow down.

Broke” is the past tense of the verb “break”.

Broken” is the past participle of the verb break.

The misuse occurs when “broke” is used when “broken” should be used.

“Broke” and “broken” are not interchangeable.

“His car is broke.” Wrong.

“His car is broken.” Correct.


WORTH REMEMBERING

“There is no remedy for love but to love more.”
Henry David Thoreau (1817 - 1862) wrote this.


LAST WEEK’S WORDS

Paroxysm” (n.) refers to an attack, a convulsion, an explosion or a fit.

Gregarious” (adj.) means social or friendly or wanting to be with others.

Remonstrate” (v.) means to argue in opposition to or in protest against or to plead in protest.
Remonstrance” is the noun form.

Vainglorious” (adj.) means boastful, bragging, arrogant or overbearing.

Fatalism” (n.) is a philosophy that says that all events are subject to fate or are predetermined or inevitable. It is the acceptance that all things are inevitable.
Fate”, “fatality” and “fatal” share the root of this word.

Friday, November 27, 2009

GO FOR BROKE

F.Y.I

I gladly accept comments on any posting that I make but I will not accept comments that include advertising or links to other sites.
This blog is meant to be a teaching tool, not a free billboard for advertisers, regardless of their worth.
If advertisers wish to place ads on my blog, they can make arrangements by contacting me and expressly stating their intent and willingness to compensate me accordingly; I am not opposed to capitalism.



BREAK/BROKE/BROKEN

Explain the correct uses of the words "break", "broke" and "broken".
What part of speech is each word? Be very specific.
Identify the misuses of these words.
Create a sentence for each word to illustrate its correct meaning and use.


TODAY'S WORD

The word for today is "fatalism".
What part of speech is "fatalism"?
Define "fatalism" and use it in a sentence.
Identify three other forms of the word. Create a sentence for each word.


CORRECTIONS & EXPLANATIONS

Corrections and explanations for this week's entries will be posted Sunday.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

V AS IN "VALIDATION"

VERACIOUS/VORACIOUS

Define and explain the difference between the words "veracious" and "voracious".
What part of speech is each word?
Create sentences using "veracious" and "voracious" is such a way as to convey their meanings.


TODAY'S WORD

The word for today is "vainglorious".
What part of speech is "vainglorious"?
Define "vainglorious"" and use it in a sentence.


BONUS

Define the title word "validation" and list all the forms of the word that you can.
Be sure to identify what part of speech each is.
Create a new sentence for each word you list.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

TEST YOUR VERB SKILLS

GRAMMAR REVIEW

What is the active voice of a verb?
Create a sentence using the active voice of a verb.

What is the passive voice of a verb?
Create a sentence using the passive voice of a verb.


WORTH REMEMBERING

Identify the author of the following thought.

“There is no remedy for love but to love more.”


TODAY'S WORD

The word for today is "remonstrate".
What part of speech is "remonstrate"?
Define "remonstrate" and use it in a sentence.
What is the noun form of this word?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

EASY TUESDAY FARE

AFFLUENCE/EFFLUENCE

Explain the difference in meaning between the words "affluence" and "effluence".
What part of speech is each word?
Use "affluence" and "effluence" in sentences that demonstrate their meanings.
Identify another form for each word.


TODAY'S WORD

The word for today is "gregarious".
What part of speech is "gregarious"?
Define "gregarious" and use it in a sentence.

Monday, November 23, 2009

GOOD MONDAY MORNING?

"WHEN WILL THEY EVER LEARN...?"

Identify and correct the errors in the following pieces.

You get a GOLD STAR if you can identify the irony in the last entry. You must be sure to read the entire entry to find it.
You go to the head of the class if you can explain what is wrong with the word order of example three.



"Just as it would be for a CUPE insider to whisper the union's plans to management in the midst of a bitter stand-off."
Chris Vander Doelen, "Playing a dangerous game", The Windsor Star, Saturday, November 21, 2009.

"But my sense is Jones is going to need that lawyer; unfortunately for him."
Chris Vander Doelen, "Playing a dangerous game", The Windsor Star, Saturday, November 21, 2009.

"A group of homeowners on Windsor's west side have hired a lawyer and will approach city council tonight to push for demolition of dozens of unsightly homes on Indian Road owned by Ambassador Bridge owner Matty Maroun."
Dave Battagello, "Group pushes for demolitions", The Windsor Star, Monday, November 23, 2003.


TODAY'S WORD

The word for today is "paroxysm".
What part of speech is "paroxysm"?
Define "paroxysm" and use it in a sentence.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

CORRECTIONS & EXPLANATIONS - Novenber 22, 2009

Here are the corrections and explanations forlast week's entries.

Monday

PERSPECTIVE/PROSPECTIVE

“Perspective” is usually a noun and has to do with displaying objects to express dimensions and spatial relations. It also refers to the relationship of parts to one another or a mental view of things.

“The architectural perspective was a three-dimensional drawing of beauty and functionality.”

“Prospective” is usually an adjective and refers to the future or one’s expectations of the future.

“The prospective future for the young physics genius, Einstein, was immortality and he achieved it.”


Tuesday

LITERAL/LITTORAL

“Literal” (adj.) means following the exact words of an original text, following the letter of the law or sticking to the strict meaning of something.
“The literal translation of the Bible is often changed to ease understanding for children.”

“Littoral” (adj.) refers to the region of the shore of a lake, sea or ocean.
“The littoral region of east Florida is beautifully sandy and is saturated with tourists.”


PUNCTUATION REVIEW - PERIOD

A “period” is punctuation used to end a sentence that is declarative or a command. It is also used with abbreviations.

“The cat sat on the mat.”
“Marcus Welby M.D. was a well-known TV doctor.”


Wednesday

PUNCTUATION REVIEW - COMMA

A “comma” is used to indicate a pause in a sentence, to separate elements in a series or to separate coordinate conjunctions with different subjects.

A “COMMA” CANNOT BE USED IN PLACE OF A PERIOD even though Dickens did.

Get a Gold Star if you can identify Dickens’s very famous misuse of the comma.

“Tom is wise, intuitive and fully in love with himself.”
“Tom looked at himself in the mirror, and Mary gagged.”


Thursday

PUNCTUATION REVIEW - SEMI-COLON

A “semi-colon" can be used in place of a period to connect sentences that are related to each other or to help sort out a huge list.

“Tom looked at himself in the mirror; Mary gagged.”
“The candidates in the race are: John, from Windsor; Mary, from, Winnipeg; Isabelle, from Belle River; and Angelo, from Amherstburg.”


Friday

PUNCTUATION REVIEW - COLON

A “colon” is used before a list or explanation that is preceded by a clause that can stand by itself.

See the use of the colon in the example for semi-colons for the use of a colon in a list.
“There is one thing yet to do: confess your wrongs and beg forgiveness.”


WORTH A SECOND GLANCE

“There's no trick to being a humorist when you have the whole government working for you.”

There is a clue to the identity of the author of the line. You get a gold star if you can find and explain the clue.

The clue is the word “humorist”. The saying was penned by Will Rogers, an American humorist (1879 - 1935).


LAST WEEK’S WORDS

“Obdurate” (adj.) means stubbornly persistent in wrongdoing, perverse or unrepentant.

“Rancid” (adj.) means sour, foul, stale or smelly.

“Irreconcilable” (adj.) means cannot be harmonized or adjusted, incompatible or opposed to agreement.

“Presumptuous” (adj.) means excessively forward, brash, cheeky, nervy or assumptive.
“Presumption” is the noun form.
“Presumptive” is another adjectival form meaning affording grounds for presumption or assuming to be true.

“Pedantry” (n.) is a ostentatious, undue or inappropriate display of learning.

Friday, November 20, 2009

THE MEDIUM IS THE MASSAGE

SORRY!

I hate to add insult to injury, but this convinces me to continue this blog.





PUNCTUATION REVIEW - Part 4

What is a "colon"?
What are the functions of a "colon"?
Create sentences to illustrate the various uses of a "colon".


TODAY'S WORD

The word for today is "pedantry".
What part of speech is "pedantry"?
Define "pedantry" and use it in a sentence.


CORRECTIONS & EXPLANATIONS

Corrections and explanations for this week's entries will be posted Sunday.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

THE QUEST CONTINUES

PUNCTUATION REVIEW - Part 3

What is a "semi-colon"?
What are the functions of a "semi-colon"?
Create sentences to illustrate the various uses of a "semi-colon".


TODAY'S WORD

The word for today is "presumptuous".
What part of speech is "presumptuous"?
Define "presumptuous" and use it in a sentence.
Identify two other forms of the word.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

WEDNESDAY'S CHALLENGES

PUNCTUATION REVIEW - Part 2

What is a "comma"?
What are the functions of a "comma"?
Create sentences to illustrate the various uses of a "comma".


WORTH A SECOND GLANCE

“There's no trick to being a humorist when you have the whole government working for you.”

Identify the author of this aphorism.
There is a clue to the identity of the author of the line. You get a gold star if you can find and explain the clue.


TODAY'S WORD

The word for today is " irreconcilable".
What part of speech is "irreconcilable"?
Define "irreconcilable" and use it in a sentence.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

WORD & PUNCTUATION CHALLENGES

LITERAL/LITTORAL

Define and explain the difference between the words "literal" and "littoral".
What part of speech is each word?
How is each word pronounced?
Create sentences for "literal" and "littoral" which clearly show the meanings of the words.


PUNCTUATION REVIEW - Part 1

What is a "period"?
What is the function of a "period"?
Create sentences to illustrate your definition.


TODAY'S WORD

The word for today is "rancid".
What part of speech is "rancid"?
Define "rancid" and use it in a sentence.

Monday, November 16, 2009

MICHAEL IS BACK!

THE BREAK IS OVER

I hope all of you who live and die over correct English usage have survived the last week while I been cavorting around Las Vegas.
Now the crusade begins again with post # 770. We are getting close to another milestone.


PERSPECTIVE/PROSPECTIVE

Define and explain the difference between the words "perspective" and "prospective".
What part of speech is each word?
Create a sentence using "perspective" and another using "prospective".


TODAY'S WORD

The word for today is "obdurate".
What part of speech is "obdurate"?
Define "obdurate" and use it in a sentence.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

CORRECTIONS & EXPLANATIONS - November 6, 2009

Here are the corrections and explanations for the week's entries.

NOTE: check the announcement at the end of this blog.

Monday

SENTENCES

PRINCIPAL CLAUSE

A principal clause is a group of words with a subject and a predicate which can stand alone because it expresses a complete thought.
“He wrote a simple sentence.”

SUBORDINATE CLAUSE

A subordinate clause is a group of words with a subject and a predicate which cannot stand on its own because it does not express a complete thought.
“Because I like girls...”

SIMPLE SENTENCES

A simple sentence is a group of words containing one subject and one predicate and having a complete thought.
“The cat sat on a mat.”

INTERROGATIVE SENTENCES

An interrogative sentence is a group of words which poses a question.
“When will the cat finish her meal?”


Tuesday

COMPOUND SENTENCES

A compound sentence is a group of words containing two or more statements (clauses) which are joined by a coordinate conjunction.
“The cat sat on the mat and it licked its paws.” (Each clause can stand independently.)


Wednesday

COMPLEX SENTENCES

A complex sentence is a group of words containing one principal clause and one or more subordinate clauses.
“I worked during the holidays because I needed the money.” (The first clause can stand on its own; the second one cannot.)


Thursday

COMPOUND-COMPLEX SENTENCES

A compound-complex sentence contains two or more principal clauses and one or more subordinate clauses.
“He says that I should study medicine because doctors do so much good, but I know that I want to be an actor.” (There are two principal clauses and three subordinate clauses.)


Friday

SURPRISE! TEST TIME!

Label each of the following sentences as simple, complex, compound or compound-complex.

1. The horse ran the race in record time.
This is a simple sentence having one principal clause.

2. I raised the window, and a bat flew into the room.
This is a compound sentence because there are two principal clauses.

3. He arrived home early and went directly to his room.
This is a compound sentence because there are two principal clauses.

4. I worked during the holidays because I needed the money.
This is a complex sentence because there are one principal clause and one subordinate clause.

5. The man who sent you is my friend.
This is a complex sentence because there are one principal clause and one subordinate clause.

6. He asked why you were absent, and I replied that I did not know.
This is a compound-complex sentence because there are two principal clauses and two subordinate clauses.

7. I know that you have given me good advice and I promise that I will not disappoint you.
This is a compound-complex sentence because there are two principal clauses and two subordinate clauses.

8. A wise man is one who never tells all that he knows.
This is a complex sentence because there are one principal clause and two subordinate clauses.

9. Great dykes hold back the water in Holland.
This is a simple sentence because there is one principal clause.

10. I did not sleep well because I was excited over the game.
This is a complex sentence because there are one principal clause and one subordinate clause.


HOW TRUE!

“Men are not prisoners of fate, but only prisoners of their own minds.”
Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882 - 1945) penned this statement.


THIS WEEK'S WORDS

Inquisitiveness” (n.) refers to curiosity or wonder.

Quiescence” (n.) refers to inaction, dormancy or sleep. To Shakespeare, it refers to the stillness of death.

Harbinger”, as a noun means a forerunner, a herald or an omen. As a verb, it means to announce or foretell.

Whimsical” (adj.) means capricious, impulsive or determined by chance or whim.

Languid” (adj.) means lazy, sluggish, lacking in energy or enthusiasm.


ANNOUNCEMENT

There will be no postings next week, November 9- 13, 2009.
Posts will resume November 16, 2009.

If you need a grammar fix, check the archives; there are over 700 postings you can review.

Friday, November 6, 2009

SENTENCE WEEK - Part 5

SURPRISE! TEST TIME!

Label each of the following sentences as simple, complex, compound or compound-complex. List a reason for each choice.

1. The horse ran the race in record time.

2. I raised the window, and a bat flew into the room.

3. He arrived home early and went directly to his room.

4. I worked during the holidays because I needed the money.

5. The man who sent you is my friend.

6. He asked why you were absent, and I replied that I did not know.

7. I know that you have given me good advice and I promise that I will not disappoint you.

8. A wise man is one who never tells all that he knows.

9. Great dykes hold back the water in Holland.

10. I did not sleep well because I was excited over the game.


TODAY'S WORD

The word for today is "languid".
What part of speech is "languid"?
Define "languid" and use it in a sentence.


CORRECTIONS & EXPLANATIONS

Corrections and explanations for this week's entries will be posted Saturday.


ANNOUNCEMENT

There will be no postings next week, November 9- 13, 2009.
Posts will resume November 16, 2009.

If you need a grammar fix, check the archives; there are over 700 postings you can review.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

SENTENCE WEEK - Part 4

SENTENCES

All this week, I am going to explain the construction of various types of sentences. Since I am continually railing at professional writers to learn how to write sentences, I am going to give a primary to help that cause.
This could be tedious. It could also be educational. Give it a try.



COMPOUND-COMPLEX SENTENCES

What is a compound-complex sentence?
Create an example of a compound-complex sentence.


TODAY'S WORD

The word for today is "whimsical".
What part of speech is "whimsical"?
Define "whimsical" and use it in a sentence.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

SENTENCE WEEK - Part 3

SENTENCES

All this week, I am going to explain the construction of various types of sentences. Since I am continually railing at professional writers to learn how to write sentences, I am going to give a primary to help that cause.
This could be tedious. It could also be educational. Give it a try.


COMPLEX SENTENCES

What is a complex sentence?
Create an example of a complex sentence.


HOW TRUE!

Identify the author of the following bit of philosophy.

“Men are not prisoners of fate, but only prisoners of their own minds.”


TODAY'S WORD

The word for today is "harbinger".
What part of speech is "harbinger"?
Define "harbinger" and use it in a sentence.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

SENTENCE WEEK - Part 2

SENTENCES

All this week, I am going to explain the construction of various types of sentences. Since I am continually railing at professional writers to learn how to write sentences, I am going to give a primary to help that cause.
This could be tedious. It could also be educational. Give it a try.



COMPOUND SENTENCES

What is a compound sentence?
Create an example of a compound sentence.


TODAY'S WORD

The word for today is "quiescence".
What part of speech is "quiescence"?
Define "quiescence" and use it in a sentence.

Monday, November 2, 2009

SENTENCE WEEK - Part 1

SENTENCES

All this week, I am going to explain the construction of various types of sentences. Since I am continually railing at professional writers to learn how to write sentences, I am going to give a primary to help that cause.
This could be tedious. It could also be educational. Give it a try.

SIMPLE SENTENCES

What is a simple sentence?
Create an example of a simple sentence.


INTERROGATIVE SENTENCE

What is an interrogative sentence?
Create an example of an interrogative sentence.


TODAY'S WORD

The word for today is "inquisitiveness".
What part of speech is "inquisitiveness"?
Define "inquisitiveness" and use it in a sentence.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

CORRECTIONS & EXPLANATIONS - November 1, 2009

Here are the corrections and explanations for last week's entries.

Monday

WARRANTEE/WARRANTY

Warranty”, a noun, is a written assurance that a product or service will be performed.
“I received a one year manufacturer’s warranty for my new television.”

Warrantee”, a noun, refers to a person to whom a warrant is given.
“I am the warrantee, the one who received a standard guarantee for my new television.”


Tuesday

COMPOSE/COMPRISE

Compose” is a verb meaning to create a musical work, to create a new writing or to put together.

Comprise” is a verb meaning to consist of, to be equal to or to contain.
“Those nine symphonies comprise the total musical output of that composer.”


Wednesday

MEDIUM/MEDIAN

Medium” is a noun referring to a state that is intermediate between extremes, to someone who serves as an intermediary between the living and the dead or to the surrounding environment.
“‘Marshall McLuhan said, “The medium is the message.’”

Median” as an adjective, refers to the middle value of a distribution. As a noun, it refers to the value below which fifty percent of the cases lie.
“In the sequence 1, 3, 4, 8, 9, the median number is 4.”


Thursday

PASSED/PAST

Passed” is the past participle of the verb “to pass”. “To pass” means to enact laws, to go by something, to succeed in an exam or to run or extend by two points.
“She passed the medical exam with flying colours.”

Past” is a noun referring to time that has elapsed. As an adjective, it refers to a time earlier than the present time or no longer current.
“The old lady lived and thought in the past and had no use for a computer.”


Friday

DRANK/DRUNK

Drank” is the past tense of the verb “to drink”.
“They drank themselves into oblivion every weekend.”

“”Drunk” is a noun referring to a chronic drinker. As a verb, “drunk” requires an auxiliary verb or helper.
“ ‘I have drunk many new concoctions lately’, slurred the drunk.”


A GOOD CONCEPT

“Imagination is more important than knowledge.”
Albert Einstein, physicist, 1879 - 1955, said this.


LAST WEEK’S WORDS

Hydra” (proper noun) was a monstrous serpent with nine heads in Greek mythology and when one head was cut off, two more replaced it. As a common noun, “hydra” refers to a monster.
The connotation of “hydra” is any persistent evil arising from many sources and difficult to overcome.
“Hercules slew the Hydra as one of his labours.”
“The hydra of racism is a fearsome pandemic.”

Rancid” (adj.) means smelling of fermentation or staleness, sour or going bad.

Dissimulation” (n.) refers to the act of deceiving, misrepresentation or falsehood.

Stoicism” (n.) is a philosophical system or doctrine indicating an indifference to pain or pleasure or that men should be free from passion or unmoved by joy or grief.
Stoicism” was a school of philosophy founded by Zeno of Citium in Greece.
Stoic”, is the term for a follower of Zeno's philosophy.
Stoical” is the adjective form.

Disconcert” (v.) means to cause to be confused, to confuse emotionally, to upset or to discomfit someone.

Friday, October 30, 2009

D-DAY FRIDAY (no insult intended)

DRANK/DRUNK

Explain the correct use of the words "drank" and "drunk".
Identify the part of speech of "drank" and "drunk".
Create example sentences to display the correct use of "drank" and "drunk".

TODAY'S WORD

The word for today is "disconcert".
What part of speech is "disconcert"?
Identify other forms or parts of speech of "disconcert".
Define "disconcert" and use it in a sentence.


CORRECTIONS & EXPLANATIONS

Corrections and explanations for this week's entries will be posted Sunday.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

EASY AND CHALLENGING

PASSED/PAST

Explain the correct uses of the words "passed" and "past".
What part of speech is each word?
Use "passed" and "past" in sentences.


TODAY'S WORD

The word for today is "stoicism".
What part of speech is "stoicism"?
Define "stoicism" and use it in a sentence.
Bonus: get a gold star if you can identify the roots of "stoicism" and two other forms of the word.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

GOOD WORDS TO USE

MEDIUM/MEDIAN

Explain the difference in meaning and use of the words" medium" and "median".
What part of speech is each word?
Use each word in a sentence that clearly shows its meaning.
Bonus: get a gold star by giving more than one definition of each word.


A GOOD CONCEPT

Who coined the following idea?

“Imagination is more important than knowledge.”


TODAY'S WORD

The word for today is "dissimulation".
What part of speech is "dissimulation"?
Define "dissimulation" and use it in a sentence.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

TUESDAY'S TIDBITS

COMPOSE/COMPRISE

Explain the difference in meaning and use of the words "compose" and "comprise".
What part of speech is each word?
Use "compose" and "comprise" in sentences that show their respective meanings.


TODAY'S WORD

The word for today is "rancid".
What part of speech is "rancid"?
Define "rancid" and use it in a sentence.

Monday, October 26, 2009

GOOD CHALLENGES

WARRANTEE/WARRANTY

Define and explain the difference between the words "warrantee" and "warranty".
Use each word in a sentence that clearly shows the words' meanings.


TODAY'S WORD

The word for today is "hydra".
Define "hydra".
Explain the connotation of the word "hydra" and you will understand why I included this word in my daily list of words.
Hint: it is taken from Greek mythology. If you do not know the word "connotation", you have two words to explaore.
Create a sentence using the word "hydra".

Sunday, October 25, 2009

CORRECTIONS & EXPLANATIONS - October 25, 2009

Here are the corrections and explanations for last week's entries.

Monday

ABIDE/BIDE

Abide” (v.) means to endure, to survive, to hold out or to put up with something or someone unpleasant.

Bide” (v.) means to wait for a favourable opportunity.


Tuesday

How many errors can be found in the following examples?

“There was a baseball cap and blood-soaked clothing laying in a pile on the pavement.”

The verb should be “lying”. If the subject is acting on some other object, it is “lay.” If the subject is lying down, it is “lie”.

“There was a baseball cap and blood-soaked clothing lying in a pile on the pavement.”


“Not because people believe they might not be able to drive safely, but because of the penalties in blowing over a .05 blood-alcohol reading, which is at the heart of the six-month old law.”

This is an incomplete thought. To have it make sense, the context must be known.
The comma after “safely” is unnecessary.


“More debate about breath tests must be done, not because people believe they might not be able to drive safely but because of the penalties in blowing over a .05 blood-alcohol reading, which is at the heart of the six-month old law.”


“Again, no definite answer.”

This is an incomplete thought.

“Again, there is no definite answer.”


“Common sense says these individuals aren't going to threaten their own life or anyone else's.”

“These individuals” is plural, but “life” is singular. Do these people have only one shared life? “Life” should be “lives”.

“Common sense says these individuals aren't going to threaten their own lives or anyone else's.”


Wednesday

MEDAL/METAL/MEDDLE/METTLE

With the following words, it is important, when speaking, to enunciate clearly to avoid confusion.

Medal” (n.) refers to a decoration or ribbon or award.
“He received a medal acknowledging his brave acts.”

Metal” (n.) refers to substances or elements such as gold silver or copper.
“That metal you are examining is pure gold.”

Meddle” (v.) means to tamper, to interfere unwantedly or to disturb.
“Do not meddle is affairs that do not concern you.”

Mettle” (n.) refers to courage, heart, nerve or spunk.
“He had the mettle and mental toughness to complete the gruelling Iron Man competition.”


Thursday

A DIFFERENT KIND OF APPROACH
THESE KIND/THIS KIND


These” is plural.
Kind” is singular.
Therefore, it is incorrect to try to have “these” modify “kind”.
It must be “these kinds” or “this kind”.

“This kind of candy is too sweet.”
“These kinds of mistakes should not be made by professional writers.


Friday

PRECEDENCE/PRECEDENTS

Precedence” is a noun meaning status given in order of importance, priority or urgency. It also refers to the act of preceding or going before.
“On the Titanic, precedence was given to women and children in abandoning the ship.”

Precedents” is the plural of “precedent” and refers to examples, forms, patterns or shapes.
“In arguing the case, the lawyer tried to set several precedents for future litigation.”



WORTH REMEMBERING

“The very spring and root of honesty and virtue lie in good education.”
Plutarch, a Greek biographer, (46 AD - 120 AD) wrote this.


LAST WEEK’S WORDS

Sorry. There are only four words this week. I was careless and did not pay enough attention.

Obdurate” (adj.) means stubbornly persistent in wrongdoing, obstinate, perverse or resistant to tender feelings.

Otiose” (adj.) means disinclined to work or exertion, lazy, idle or serving no useful purpose.

Mollify” (v.) means to appease, assuage, pacify or make less rigid.

Audacious” (adj.) means brave, fearless, brash, insolent, shameless or disposed to taking risks.

Friday, October 23, 2009

BE WORD-WISE

PRECEDENCE/PRECEDENTS

Explain the difference in meaning and use between "precedence" and "precedents".
Create sentences that show the meanings of each word .


TODAY'S WORD

The word for today is "audacious".
What part of speech is "audacious"?
Define "audacious" and use it in a sentence.


CORRECTIONS & EXPLANATIONS

Corrections and explanations for this week's entries will be posted Sunday.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

A DIFFERENT KIND OF APPROACH

THESE KIND/THIS KIND

Explain the correct use of the terms "these kind" and "this kind".
How are these terms misused?
Create sentences showing the incorrect use of "these kind" and "this kind".
Create sentences showing the correct use of "these kind" and "this kind".


TODAY'S WORD

The word for today is "audacious".
What part of speech is "audacious"?
Define "audacious" and use it in a sentence.


HELP!

This blog needs some new ideas and approaches.
Please feel free to offer suggestions for a different focus.
The mandate will remain the same: to foster and develop better use of our language.
The approach can be modified.
Click on "Comment" below and give me some ideas.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

"M" DAY FUN

MEDAL/METAL/MEDDLE/METTLE

Here are four words that often sound the same because of our tendency to not enunciate correctly.
Define each word and identify the part of speech each is.
Create sentences that show the meanings of "medal", "metal", "meddle" and "mettle".


WORTH REMEMBERING

Who penned the following epithet?

“The very spring and root of honesty and virtue lie in good education.”


TODAY'S WORD

The word for today is "mollify".
What part of speech is "mollify"?
Define "mollify" and use it in a sentence.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT

WHEN WILL THEY EVER LEARN?

How many errors can be found in the following examples?
Find and identify them. Correct them.


"There was a baseball cap and blood-soaked clothing laying in a pile on the pavement."
Trevor Wilhelm, "Teen cyclist injured by car", The Windsor Star, Tuesday, October 20, 2009.


"Not because people believe they might not be able to drive safely, but because of the penalties in blowing over a .05 blood-alcohol reading, which is at the heart of the six-month old law."
Lead Editorial opinion, "Breath tests", The Windsor Star, Tuesday, October 20, 2009.


"Again, no definite answer."
Lead Editorial opinion, "Breath tests", The Windsor Star, Tuesday, October 20, 2009.


"Common sense says these individuals aren't going to threaten their own life or anyone else's."
Lead Editorial opinion, "Breath tests", The Windsor Star, Tuesday, October 20, 2009.


TODAY'S WORD

The word for today is "otiose".
What part of speech is "otiose"?
Define "otiose".
Define "otiose" and use it in a sentence.

Monday, October 19, 2009

WEEK'S EASY START

ABIDE/BIDE

Define "abide" and "bide".
What part of speech is each word?
Explain the difference between "abide" and "bide".
Create a sentence using each word.


TODAY'S WORD

The word for today is "obdurate".
Define "obdurate".
What part of speech is "obdurate"?
Create a sentence that uses and expresses the meqning of "obdurate".

Sunday, October 18, 2009

CORRECTIONS & EXPLANATIONS - October 18, 2009

Here are the corrections and explanations for last week's entries.

Tuesday

There are four errors in the examples below. Find them, fix them and give your reasons for your choices.

“The 26 year-old man from the nearby suburb of New Westminster had been out drinking when he saw a couch on a east Vancouver sidewalk and decided to lay down to sleep.”

“An”, not “a”, is required before a word beginning with a vowel.
“Lay” is incorrect. When the subject is acting on some other object, “lay” is used. When the subject is lying down, “lie is used”.


“The 26 year-old man from the nearby suburb of New Westminster had been out drinking when he saw a couch on an east Vancouver sidewalk and decided to lie down to sleep.”


“Which means if there is any skimping on materials, design or construction, the fallout will come back to bite the hindquarters of the contractors' heirs.”

“Which” is a subordinate conjunction and makes its clause dependant. So the whole thing is an incomplete thought.

“If there is any skimping on materials, design or construction, the fallout will come back to bite the hindquarters of the contractors’ heirs.”


“Which is why the list of partners and subcontractors named by each of the successful bidding consortia reads like a who’s who of the world’s building industry: the names include Spaniards, Brits, Germans, Americans and Aussies.”

See the explanation for the example above.
The colon is misused; it should be a semi-colon.


“The list of partners and subcontractors named by each of the successful bidding consortia reads like a who’s who of the world’s building industry; the names include Spaniards, Brits, Germans, Americans and Aussies.”


Wednesday

Correct the three errors in the following units.

“A super pest, a circus act, a small, nasty bundle of balled-up menace who, when healthy competed like a giant.”

This is an incomplete thought.

“Darcy was a super pest, a circus act, a small, nasty bundle of balled-up menace who, when healthy competed like a giant.”


“Blue collar; hard working and gritty.”

This, too, is an incomplete thought.
The semi-colon should be a colon because a list of qualities about blue collar workers is being implied.


“He was blue collar: hard working and gritty.”


Thursday

AMBIVALENT/INDIFFERENT

Ambivalent” (adj.) means being pulled in two directions about something thus creating uncertainty or indecision.

Indifferent” (adj.) means having no particular feelings, concern or leanings about something.


Friday

CONFLICTED/CONFLICTING FEELINGS

Conflicted” and “conflicted feelings” are jargon and should not be used, particularly in correct writing.
The term “conflicting feelings” is acceptable. Having “ambivalent” feelings is also acceptable.

“I feel conflicted about that,” is not acceptable.

“I have conflicting feelings about that,” is the way to say it.


A THINKER

“Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.”

Albert Einstein, 1879 - 1955, said this.


LAST WEEK’S WORDS

Funereal” (adj.) means gloomy, suggestive of a grave or a burial.

Machiavellian” (adj.) relates to the philosophy of Niccolò di Bernardo Machiavelli, an Italian statesman (1469-1527), who held the political doctrine which placed expediency above political morality and condoned the use of craft, unscrupulousness and deceit in order to maintain the authority and effect the purposes of the ruler. In short, it refers to a person who puts deceit above morality.

Succour” (v.) means to help, assist, aid or suckle, particularly in a difficult situation. The American version is “succor”.

Ungainly” (adj.) means lacking grace of movement or posture, gawky, unwieldy or awkward.

Friday, October 16, 2009

CORRECTNESS VERSUS JARGON

CONFLICTED/CONFLICTING FEELINGS

Explain the use and misuse of the terms "conflicted" and "conflicted feelings".
Create sentences using the terms incorrectly.
Create sentences using correct alternatives.


TODAY'S WORD

The word for today is "ungainly".
What part of speeck is "ungainly"?
Define "ungainly" and use it in a sentence.


CORRECTIONS & EXPLANATIONS

Corrections and expalanations for this week's entries will be posted Sunday.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

SIMPLE CHALLENGES

AMBIVALENT/INDIFFERENT

Explain the difference in meaning and use of the words "ambivalent" and "indifferent".
What part of speech is each word?
Use "ambivalent" and "indifferent" in sentences.


TODAY'S WORD

The word for today is "succor".
What part of speech is "succor"?
Define "succor" and use it in a sentence.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

INCOMPLETENESS: A WRITING EPIDEMIC

A SENTENCE? WHAT IS THAT?

There are three errors in the following word units.
What are the errors?
Correct them.


"A super pest, a circus act, a small, nasty bundle of balled-up menace who, when healthy competed like a giant."
Joe O'Connor, Canwest Global, "Former Leaf Tucker never wanted to leave Toronto", The Windsor Star, Wednesday, October 14, 2009.

"Blue collar; hard working and gritty."
Joe O'Connor, Canwest Global, "Former Leaf Tucker never wanted to leave Toronto", The Windsor Star, Wednesday, October 14, 2009.


A THINKER

Who composed the following idea?

“Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.”


TODAY'S WORD

The word for today is "funereal".
What part of speech is "funereal"?
Define "funereal" and use it in a sentence.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

GOOD CHALLENGES

SENTENCE CONSTRUCTION 101

There are four errors in the examples below. Find them, fix them and give your reasons for your choices.


"The 26 year-old man from the nearby suburb of New Westminster had been out drinking when he saw a couch on a east Vancouver sidewalk and decided to lay down to sleep."
National Briefs, "Race Motive probed as man set on fire", The Windsor Star, Tuesday, October 13, 2009.

"Which means if there is any skimping on materials, design or construction, the fallout will come back to bite the hindquarters of the contractors' heirs."
Chris Vande Doelen, "Cocos still player in parkway", The Windsor Star, Tuesday, October 13, 2009.

"Which is why the list of partners and subcontractors named by each of the successful bidding consortia reads like a who's who of the world's building industry: the names include Spaniards, Brits, Germans, Americans and Aussies."
Chris Vande Doelen, "Cocos still player in parkway", The Windsor Star, Tuesday, October 13, 2009.


TODAY'S WORD

The word for today is "Machiavellian".
Define "Machiavellian" and use it in a sentence.
Hint: there is a philosophy attached to this word and that can constitute the definition.
Use "Machiavellian" in a sentence.

Monday, October 12, 2009

HAPPY THANKSGIVING

HAPPY THANKSGIVING CANADA!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

CORRECTIONS & EXPLANATIONS - October 11, 2009

Here are the corrections and explanations for last week's entries.

Monday

The following examples are all based on material covered in this blog over the last month or so.
Correct the errors and state the reason for your corrections.


1. The couple were arrested at the scene and charged with robbery.

“Couple” is a singular, collective noun and needs a singular verb.

The couple was arrested at the scene and charged with robbery.


2. The woman was (reluctant, reticent) to reveal her age to the nosey teen.

“Reticent” can only refer to when one is unsure of speaking, so “reluctant” must be used.

The woman was reluctant to reveal her age to the nosey teen.


3. She stopped under the street light, she lit a cigarette.

This is a punctuation error called a comma splice. A semi-colon, a coordinate conjunction or a period must be used.

She stopped under the street light; she lit a cigarette.


4. The old man (hocked, hawked) his watch to buy a little food.

“Hock” means to trade and “hawk” means to sell.

The old man hocked his watch to buy a little food.


5. In this race I ran further than I had ever done before.

“Farther” must be used in reference to distance.

In this race I ran farther than I had ever done before.


6. Neither the skunk nor the officer were injured.

“Neither”/”nor” means a choice of one or one other so the verb must also be singular.

Neither the skunk nor the officer was injured.


7. I seen her when she ran away.

“Seen” must have an auxiliary verb such as “have”.

I saw her when she ran away.


8. The girl went missing last week and hasn’t been seen since.

People and things do not “go missing”. This is an overly trite and incorrect use of language.

The girl disappeared last week and hasn’t been seen since.


9. He don’t see very well any more.

The third person singular must use “doesn’t”. “Does not” is preferable.

He doesn’t see very well any more.


10. Jethro brang home a moose he shot in WaWa.

“Brang” is not a word. The past tense of “bring” is “brought”.

Jethro brought home a moose he shot in WaWa.


Tuesday

Identify the errors in the following pieces and correct them.

“Neither of the assailants have prior criminal records.”

“Neither” is the singular subject and the verb must agree. See number 6 above.

“Neither of the assailants have prior criminal records.”


“That and the corporate downsizing the mayor wants to contain costs and cap tax increases.”

This is an incomplete thought.

“City Council’s reorganizing plans and the corporate downsizing the mayor wants to contain costs and cap tax increases are the reasons for the fear-mongering seizing City Hall.” (You have to know the context.)


“True, a bunch of former city managers were fired or forced into early retirement with buyout packages paid for by taxpayers.”

The subject is “bunch” and it is a collective, singular noun needing a singular verb.

“True, a bunch of former city managers was fired or forced into early retirement with buyout packages paid for by taxpayers.”


Wednesday

THERE'S/THEIRS/THEIR'S

Theirs” is a contraction of “there is”.

Theirs” is a possessive showing ownership by “them”.

Their’s” is not a word and any use of such a form is incorrect.


Thursday

FOR/FORE/FOUR

For” is a preposition which begins a phrase and takes an object.
“He sat for a while and then fell to sleep.”

Fore” is a noun referring to the front part of a boat. As an adjective it means situated toward the front. As an interjection it is a warning, particularly in golf.

“‘Fore!’ Tiger yelled as he shanked his ball into the crowd.”

Four” is a noun referring to the number after three and before five.

“I have four fingers and one thumb on my left hand.”


Friday

Read the following, determine the errors and correct them.
BONUS: find and correct the non-plural problem.


“The machinery and office equipment was also liquidated.”

There are two things as subject, so a plural verb is needed.

“The machinery and office equipment were also liquidated.”


“The dead man was removed from the water with the use of one of the fire trucks' extendable apparatus.”

“Trucks’” is plural possessive, but the context is singular.
“Apparatus” should be plural because the context suggests there is more than one apparatus. I suggest it should be “apparati”, but “apparatuses” could be used.


“The dead man was removed from the water with the use of one of the fire truck’s extendable apparati.”


TRY THINKING

Identify the author of the following thought.

“The surest way to corrupt a youth is to instruct him to hold in higher esteem those who think alike than those who think differently.”
Friedrich Nietzsche, a German philosopher, said this.


LAST WEEK’S WORDS

Cataclysm” (n.) refers to a sudden violent change in the earth’s surface. It also means a catastrophe, havoc or a calamity.

Habituate” (v.) Means to adapt, to become accustomed to, to adjust to, to conform to something. It also means to harden oneself to something.

Cogitation” (n.) refers to attentive scrutiny or thought, meditation, musing or thoughtfulness.
Cogitate” is the verb form.
Cogitative” is the adjective form.
It comes from the Latin “cogito” meaning “I think”.

Verisimilitude” (n.) refers to the appearance of truth, believability or credibility.

Petulance” (n.) refers to fussiness, peevishness, irritability or quick temper.


ANNOUNCEMENT

HAPPY THANKSGIVING CANADA!


There will be no entries tomorrow.

Have a great day!

Friday, October 9, 2009

A PLETHORA OF PLURAL PROBLEMS

PLURAL PROBLEMS PLUS

Read the following, determine the errors and correct them.
BONUS: find and correct the non-plural problem.


"The machinery and office equipment was also liquidated."
Sarah Sachelli, "CAW mulls Match Plate lawsuit", The Windsor Star, Friday, October 9, 2009.

"The dead man was removed from the water with the use of one of the fire trucks' extendable apparatus."
Area Briefs, "Elderly man found dead in river", The Windsor Star, Friday, October 9, 2009.


TODAY'S WORD

The word for today is "petulance".
What part of speech is "petulance"?
Define "petulance" and use it in a sentence.


CORRECTIONS & EXPLANATIONS

Corrections and explanations for this week's entries will be posted Sunday.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

DESERVED KUDOS

THANK YOU WINDSOR STAR & REUTERS

Last week I posted an entry about this very word. This article proves my point. Thank you. If you click on the article, you will be able to see a larger print version.



FOR/FORE/FOUR

Do I really have to do this one?

Explain the difference in meaning of the words "for", "fore" and "four".
What part of speech is each word?
Use "for", "fore" and "four" in sentences that clearly show their meanings.


TODAY'S WORD

The word for today is "verisimilitude".
What part of speech is "verisimilitude"?
Define "verisimilitude" and use it in a sentence.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

THINK BEFORE ACTING

THERE'S/THEIRS/THEIR'S

Explain the difference in meaning and use of "there's", "theirs" and "their's".
Create sentences to show the correct use of each word.


TRY THINKING

Identify the author of the following thought.

“The surest way to corrupt a youth is to instruct him to hold in higher esteem those who think alike than those who think differently.”


TODAY'S WORD

The word for today is "cogitation".
What part of speech is "cogitation"?
Define "cogitation" and use it in a sentence.
What other forms of the word can you list?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

HERE WE GO AGAIN

MY BEST CONTRIBUTORS

Identify the errors in the following pieces and correct them.

"Neither of the assailants have prior criminal records."
Sarah Sacheli, "Teen girls avoid custody in assault", The Windsor Star, Tuesday, October 6, 2009.

"That and the corporate downsizing the mayor wants to contain costs and cap tax increases."
Chris Vander Doelen, "City hall turnover is small", The Windsor Star, Tuesday, October 6, 2009.

"True, a bunch of former city managers were fired or forced into early retirement with buyout packages paid for by taxpayers."
Chris Vander Doelen, "City hall turnover is small", The Windsor Star, Tuesday, October 6, 2009.


TODAY'S WORD

The word for today is "habituate".
What part of speech is "habituate"?
Define "habituate" and use it in a sentence.

Monday, October 5, 2009

SURPRISE TEST!

TRY THIS TEST

The following examples are all based on material covered in this blog over the last month or so.
Correct the errors and state the reason for your corrections.


1. The couple were arrested at the scene and charged with robbery.

2. The woman was (reluctant, reticent) to reveal her age to the nosey teen.

3. She stopped under the street light, she lit a cigarette.

4. The old man (hocked, hawked) his watch to buy a little food.

5. In this race I ran further than I had ever done before.

6. Neither the skunk nor the officer were injured.

7. I seen her when she ran away.

8. The girl went missing last week and hasn’t been seen since.

9. He don’t see very well any more.

10. Jethro brang home a moose he shot in WaWa.


TODAY'S WORD

The word for today is "cataclysm".
What part of speech is "cataclysm"?
Define "cataclysm" and use it in a sentence.
Identify another form of the word.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

CORRECTIONS & EXPLANATIONS - October 4, 2009

Here are the corrections and explanations for last week's entries.

Monday

EXTEND/EXTENT

Extend” is a verb only and cannot be used as a noun. It means to expand on, to widen or to elaborate upon.
“He sarcastically told the lazy brat not to expend himself because he might get a headache.”

Extent” is a noun and refers to the point or degree to which something extends. It also means a wide open space or area.

“I like him to the extent that he is leaving very soon.”


Tuesday

DOESN'T/DON'T

“Doesn't”, “does not” and“does” are used with the third person singular words such as “he”, “she” and “it”.
“It really doesn’t matter now.”

“Don’t”, “do not” and “do” are used for other subjects.
“His glasses are so old they don’t help him with reading anymore.

“She don’t see good,” is not correct and is not acceptable English, for two reasons.


Wednesday

WHENEVER/WHEN

Whenever” refers to repeated events or can refer to events whose date and time are uncertain.
“Whenever I go out into the cold weather my nose begins to run.”

When” is used when an event is unique or the date and time are known.
“When I wake up I will start functioning again.”

Whenever!” as a jingoistic teeny-bopper expletive, is just that. It should be dropped from one's lexicon by the time one reaches the age of majority.


Thursday

BRING/BRANG/BRUNG/BROUGHT


Brought” is the past tense and past participle of the verb “to bring”.
“Today, I bring to you a host of good wishes.”
“Yesterday, I brought to you a nest of golden daffodils.”
“He has brought wonderful things to me several times.”

Brung” and “brang” are not acceptable forms of “to bring” and should never be used.


Friday

FEWER/LESS

Use “fewer” (adj.) with objects that can be counted one by one.
“There were fewer days above ninety degrees than there were last year.” (“Days” can be counted.)

Use “less” (n., adj., adv., depending on use) with qualities or quantities than cannot be individually counted.
“I drank less water today than I did yesterday.” (“Water” cannot be counted.)

Bonus
“There were less days without rain last month than the previous one,” is an incorrect use of the word.

When referring to time and money, “less” is normally used, even with numbers.
“I have less money than I need.”

Specific units of time or money use “fewer” only in cases where individual items are referred to.
“She worked fewer hours than I did.”


HAPPINESS

“Many persons have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.”
Helen Keller said this.


LAST WEEK’S WORDS

Debauchery” (n.) refers to a wild gathering involving excessive drinking and promiscuity or to seduction from virtue or morality.
Debauch” is the verb form.
Debauchee” is the noun form for one addicted to excessive indulgence in sensual pleasures.

Stricture” (n.) refers to severe criticism or remarks or guidelines.
A second definition refers to a morbid contraction of any passage or duct of the body.
“The severe stricture of his windpipe by the thug’s garrote cut off his air and he suffocated.”

The root of the word is “strictus” a Latin word meaning “strict” or “severe”.

Redact” (v.) means to formulate, frame or cast in a particular style or language. It also means to make editorial changes to text.

Devolution” (n.) means devolvement or the act of passing on from stage to stage.

Approbation” (n.) refers to official approval, recognition or acceptance.

Friday, October 2, 2009

MORE BASICS

FEWER/LESS

Explain the rules about the use of the words "fewer" and "less".
What part of speech is each word?
Create sentences that use "fewer" and "less" correctly.
Bonus: cite examples of the misuse of each word.


TODAY'S WORD

The word for today is "approbation".
What part of speech is "approbation"?
Define "approbation" and use it in a sentence.


CORRECTIONS & EXPLANATIONS

Corrections and explanations for this week's entries will be posted Sunday.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

BACK TO THE BASICS

BRING/BRANG/BRUNG/BROUGHT

Explain the correct use of the words "bring", "brang", "brung" and "brought".
What part of speech is each word? Be very specific.
Which words are correct and which are not acceptable?
Create sentences that correctly use the acceptable words.


TODAY'S WORD

The word for today is "devolution".
What part of speech is "devolution"?
Define "devolution" and use it in a sentence.