Sunday, September 13, 2009


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


Find and correct the error in the following piece.

“If their tour bus hadn't have hit a patch of black ice on a Minnesota highway and flipped into a ditch, they may never have set foot on the Battala Rock star stage.”

The past perfect tense is tricky; “hadn’t have hit” is overkill because there are too many variations of “have”.

“If their tour bus hadn't hit a patch of black ice on a Minnesota highway and flipped into a ditch, they may never have set foot on the Battala Rock star stage.”



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

“There are three skills to master if you want to play baseball: hitting, catching and throwing.”

A colon can be used to separate an independent clause from a quotation.

“Lady Macbeth revealed her evil ambition in her soliloquy: ‘The raven himself is hoarse that croaks the fatal entrance of Duncan under my battlements’.”


The semi-colon is used as a connection between two or more independent clauses that are related.

“My wife will not sit in the upper deck ; she is afraid of heights.”

The semi-colon is used to separate clauses in a long list. Note the use of the colon to start the list.

“She collected souvenirs from every place she visited: theatre memorabilia from Stratford; oil rig statues from Texas; waterfall pictures from Niagara; and model cars from Detroit.”



Doubt that” should be used if you think something is untrue.

“I doubt that he lost twenty five pounds in two weeks.”

Doubt whether” is used to express uncertainty.

“I doubt whether the game will be finished because of the turbulent weather.”

Doubt if” can be used instead of “doubt whether” but it is more casual. It cannot be used in place of “doubt that”.

“I doubt if she really cares about me.”



Gratis” (adj. or adv.) means costing nothing, complimentary or free.

“The show tickets were gratis.” (adj.)

“I will give you show tickets gratis.” (adv.)

Gratuitous” (adj.) means undeserved, unearned, obnoxious or needless. It can be used in place of “gratis” but it usually has a negative or self-serving connotation.

“Her feigned kindness to the rookie cheerleader was gratuitous and hurtful.”


“Any fool can make a rule, and any fool will mind it.”
Henry David Thoreau, US author (1817 - 1862), wrote this.


Plurality” (n.) means a relative majority, a large number or a multitude. In politics, when there are three or more candidates, the excess of votes received by the leading candidate over the votes received by the next candidate is called a plurality.

Antithesis” (n.) means the exact opposite, the converse as in a thesis that is the opposite of another thesis.

Malingerer” (n.) refers to a skulker or someone who is absent from or shirks his duty.

Antipathy” (n.) is a feeling of intense dislike, an aversion, a distaste or an abhorrence of someone or something.

The roots are: “anti” which means against; and “-pathy”, a noun element which refers to suffering or feelings. Note the similarity to the word “antithesis” above.

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