Sunday, August 31, 2008

Commonly misused/misspelled words and phrases (Part 55)

Still with me? If so, here are some more words:

Momento vs. Memento

Wrong: Let’s get a momento of our trip.

Right: Let’s get a memento of our trip.

Momento is simply a misspelling (and mispronunciation) of memento. A memento is a keepsake, reminder, or souvenir. Think of memento as being short for “memorable moment.”

Lightening vs. Lightning

Wrong: Did you hear about lightening striking the church steeple?

Right: Did you hear about lightning striking the church steeple?

Lightening refers to the process of something becoming lighter (lightening a load, or lightening a shade of paint, for example). Lightning, on the other hand, is an electrostatic discharge between two clouds or between a cloud and the ground.

I have plenty more words and phrases to share with you , so come back soon.


Saturday, August 30, 2008

Commonly misused/misspelled words and phrases (Part 54)

Here are some more words and phrases that I see misused from time to time:

Very unique

Wrong: This is a very unique example of Etruscan pottery.

Right: This is a unique example of Etruscan pottery.

Unique means one-of-a-kind. Something either is or isn’t unique. It can’t be slightly or moderately or very unique. “Very,” in this case—as in most—is redundant. It’s akin to “gilding the golden lily.”

Anyways vs. anyway

Wrong: Anyways, that’s what we’re doing.

Right: Anyway, that’s what we’re doing.

Anyways is simply improper English, along with “youse guys” and “alls I know.” Always use anyway (unless, of course, you’re writing dialog for a character who’s supposed to speak incorrectly).

More next time.


Friday, August 29, 2008

Commonly misused/misspelled words and phrases (Part 53)

"Please, sir, may I have some more oft-misused words?"
"Why, of course, young man. Here you go.

Blond vs. blonde

Wrong: He’s a tall, good-looking blonde.

Right: He’s a tall, good-looking blond.

A blonde-haired woman is a blonde, while a blond-haired man is a blond. (Some grammarians suggest that blond should be used for both genders, but blonde is still most often used for women.)

Fish vs. fishes

Right: There are many fish in the sea.

Right: There are many kinds of fish in the sea.

Right: There are many fishes in the sea.

While fish (plural) can refer to multiple piscine creatures, fishes specifically means multiple species of fish. A fishing boat may catch tons of the same kind of fish, while a marine biologist may collect a number of different fishes.

Please come back when you're hungry for more (words, not fish).


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Commonly misused/misspelled words and phrases (Part 52)

Some more misused words:


Wrong: I almost like vanilla as much as I like chocolate.
Right: I like vanilla almost as much as I like chocolate.

So you “almost like vanilla?” Almost is similar to only in the sense that the meaning of the entire sentence can change depending upon where in the sentence you use it. For best results, put almost (and only) as close as possible to the object youre modifying.

Suprise vs. surprize vs. surprise

Wrong: Well, that was a suprise!
Wrong: Well, that was a surprize!
Right: Well, that was a surprise!

I’m surprised at how often I see this simple word misspelled. Any decent spell-checker should flag (or correct) it, but keep your eyes open for any occurrences that get missed in emails or in handwritten communications.

I have plenty of these words to go. Check back soon.


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Commonly misused/misspelled words and phrases (Part 51)

Still more oft-misused words:

Squash vs. quash

Wrong: Saddam Hussein squashed the rebellion.
Right: Saddam Hussein quashed the rebellion.

To squash is to crush, flatten, or pulp. To quash is to suppress, quell, or subdue. Although a dictator might be said to crush a rebellion, he doesn't literally press it into a flat mass to squeeze the juice out of it. The correct term for ending a rebellion, or to deny a legal motion, is to quash it. Although the difference in meaning between these two words may seem trivial, as Mark Twain once said: “The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter—it's the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.”

Purposely vs. purposefully vs. on purpose

Right: You did that purposefully.
Right: You did that purposely.
Right: You did that on purpose.

Purposely means intentionally (as opposed to accidentally) or on purpose. If you do something for an express purpose, you do it purposefully. Both expressions are correct, but be sure you use them correctly.

More next time.


Saturday, August 9, 2008

Commonly misused/misspelled words and phrases (Part 50)

Here are some more frequently misused phrases:

Five times smaller vs. one-fifth as large

Wrong: Our R&D budget this year is five times smaller than it was a decade ago.
Right: Our R&D budget this year is a fifth of what it was a decade ago.

While a budget can increase by five times (500% of $1,000 is $5,000), the converse is not true. A budget can’t shrink by 500% because a reduction of 100% takes the budget to zero. (If you lose 100% of your money, you’re broke, right?) On the other hand, reducing it to one-fifth, means an 80% reduction, to 20% of what it used to be.

Five times larger vs. five time as large

Right: Our R&D budget this year is five times larger than it was a decade ago.
Right: Our R&D budget this year is five times as large as it was a decade ago.

There is a fine, but critical, distinction here. Five times as large means $1,000 has grown to $5,000. However, five times larger means the budget has grown by an additional five times—in other words, another $5,000 on top of the original $1,000, or $6,000.

More next time.


Saturday, August 2, 2008

Contest winners!

Following yesterday's treasure hunt contest, I emailed the following four winners copies of my first novel, The Mars Imperative:
  • Dawn Murphy
  • Ruth Woolsey
  • Caitlin Hoy
  • Carrie Knickerbocker
In a few months, when my third novel, Sunrise Destiny, is published by Red Rose Publishing, they'll be receiving that one as well.

Congratulations, ladies. Well done!


Friday, August 1, 2008

Contest! Win two of my novels.

Here’s your chance to win free copies of two of my novels (The Mars Imperative, now, and Sunrise Destiny, when it’s published in a few months). Just go to the Midnight Seductions discussion group on Yahoo, and follow the directions there. (The contest post has the same title as this blog entry.)

The contest takes the form of a short scavenger hunt. (Find the answers on my website to five simple questions.) It runs from noon today until 8:00 p.m. (U.S. Eastern time). Winners will be announced at 9:00 p.m. (Other authors are running contests simultaneously.)

I hope you have fun with the contest, and good hunting!