End-of-Year Potpourri

Potpourri ingredients - a bit of this and that smell nice, but bad grammar stinksPotpourri (pronounced poe-pur-REE) is a mixture, most commonly of dried flower petals and spices, valued for its fragrance. However, it also can be a musical medley, a collection of miscellaneous literary extracts — or any mixture, especially of unrelated objects, subjects, etc.

This post is a mixture of words, although perhaps not quite “literary extracts.” It is a collection of things I have heard or read since my last post, and it exemplifies why I consider myself a ruthless editor, why I blog, and why I write a monthly column about grammar. We abuse our language, and I am certain it is more out of carelessness than ignorance.

Words That Missed the Mark
Here are some words (as I heard or read them) and how I would have expressed them.

We’re making efforts to try (and) to get things done.

He’s the apple of our (hearts) eye.

Share this candle in memory of someone in heaven (who) whom you will be remembering this holiday season.

People in the gym need to understand that it is not (alright) all right to curl in the squat rack.

You can see the snow (flurrying around) flurries.

Her career (floundered) foundered for several years.

Let’s sing (less) fewer songs.

(Who) Whom do you want to recommend?

We sell food for the birds that (occur in) inhabit central Arizona.

A non-stable childhood would only (exasperate) exacerbate any generic proclivities for emotional and mental problems

We take care of the little jobs (that’s) that are making you nuts!

Authorities are (conducting a manhunt for) hunting for the woman involved in the terrorist attacks.

A Class of Their Own: Redundancies Galore
Word that appear in parentheses below are (unnecessary):

They joined (together) to support the cause.

They made the dual announcement (at the same time).

She knows what to do because of (past) experience.

Let’s see if we can broaden this (out).

He was relating (back) to what he said before.

We’ve seen the effort rising (up) in the last few weeks.

Get your soda and burger, both of which will be given away (for free).

The reason (why) this hasn’t happened before should be obvious.

He tackled him (down) on the 5 yard line.

Why are so many voters seeking (out) candidates who pray?

Words matter. Let’s handle our language with care in 2015.



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Kathy Watson

Kathy Watson has a love/hate relationship with grammar; she loves words and the punctuation that helps them make sense, yet she hates those pesky rules. A self-proclaimed ruthless editor, she prefers standard usage guidelines of The Associated Press Stylebook. Her easy-to-use Grammar for People Who Hate Rules helps people write and speak with authority and confidence. She encourages and welcomes questions and comments. (Email)