Tag Archives: misused words

One Word or Two: Use Care With Your Shortcuts

What’s wrong with this headline:

How to Setup a Marketing Campaign
to Capture More Leads

If you recognized setup as incorrect (it should be set up), good for you! You have a better sense of grammar than the person who wrote the headline.

When a verb such as set is used with a preposition such as up, it is called a phrasal verb: set up. Combining a verb with an adverb also creates a phrasal verb: cut back.

But when the elements of the phrasal verb are combined and expressed as one word, they create a noun: set up / setup  |   cut back / cutback  |  break down / breakdown.

Each of the following examples has two sentences. The first uses a phrasal verb (two words), and the second uses a noun — a single word created by a verb and a preposition. (Exception: cut in No. 4 is followed by the adverb back.) Continue

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As Language Evolves, Should You Follow The Trends?

dictionary_new_wordsLanguage continually evolves. At this time of year in particular, we consider words that have emerged to describe new fields, new products or new phenomena.

The Oxford English Dictionary listed 1,346 new words as of September 2016. Yikes!

nws.merriam-webster.com has introduced new words and slang from 2016. Submitted by the public, some are clever and useful, others are simply silly, and some are grammatically unsound.
Continue

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Benefited vs. Benefitted: Single or Double t?

small_letter_tI’ve written in past blogs about whether you should double the t before adding ed or ing to benefit.

Because I often see benefitted and benefitting, I decided it was time to check other grammar sources:

The Associated Press Stylebook
The Chicago Manual of Style
Webster’s New World College Dictionary
grammarist.com
merriam-webster.com

All five agree that you generally double the final consonant and add ed or ing to words that end with a consonant: Continue

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Toward/s, Forward/s, Backward/s: To s Or Not To s?

man_walks_toward_lakeDo you say or write:

• He walked toward (or towards?) the lake.
• Let’s move forward (or forwards?) with our plan.
• She stepped backward (or backwards?) and stumbled off the porch.

Many sources say either works, but most suggest no s with toward, forward or backward in American English. Similar words that do not need an s are upward, onward, downward and afterward. Continue

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Content vs. Contents: What’s The Difference?

moving_boxes_contentsA colleague who was helping a family member move brought up content vs. contents. In her role as a technology expert, she deals with content in terms of words and images incorporated into websites, blogs and other electronic media.

But as a moving helper, she was dealing with the contents of a house and garage.

My google search proved that a seemingly direct word really is anything but. Here’s what I discovered: Continue

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Got Grammar Pet Peeves? You’re Not Alone

annoyed_grammar_pet_peevesI invited those of you on my email list to share your grammar pet peeves, and the results are in!

First: What is grammar? Grammar encompasses the words we choose and how we punctuate them — how we string them together.

Words give our sentences meaning, and punctuation marks tell us when to pause or stop, when to raise our voice or show emotion, when we’re asking a question versus making a statement.

Here are your pet peeves: ways others speak and write that you find annoying. They’re alphabetized so you can skim and select what interests or resonates with you. I’ve commented here and there and added examples. Continue

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What Do You Say: Lie Or Lay?

lie-vs-lay-on-beachDo you lie down or lay down? Do you lie the book on the table or lay the book on the table?

Lie vs. lay is one of our most confusing word choices.

You might want to lie down when you finish reading this blog, but I’m going to lay it on you anyway. I’m counting on my examples to help you make the right choices. Continue

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Incredible: Astonishing Or Not To Be Believed?

astonished_incredibleIncredible: It’s one of the most used — and most overused, in my opinion — words in American English. As with many words in our confusing language, it has more than one meaning:

incredible: impossible to believe
– the definition of credible: able to be believed; convincing
– the meaning of the prefix in: not; it negates what follows

The meaning of incredible derives from the Latin credibilis (worthy of belief) + in (not) = incredibilis (something that cannot be believed).

Consider what the prefix in means in these words: Continue

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Grammar Accord: Help Your Nouns, Pronouns Agree

holding-hands-in-accordCareful writers and speakers make sure their nouns and pronouns agree. This chapter from my book, Grammar for People Who Hate Rules: Killer Tips From The Ruthless Editor, explains how to avoid an all-too-common error.

If you remember early grammar lessons, you might recall learning that a noun is a person, place or thing:

man | village | car

The man drove to a nearby village to test-drive the car. Continue

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