Saturday, May 31, 2008

Commonly misused/misspelled words and phrases (Part 35)

More words that are frequently mangled:

Who’s vs. whose

Wrong: Who’s car is that?
Right: Whose car is that?

Who’s is a contraction of “who is.” Whose (in this context) means “belonging to whom.” Therefore, you might ask “Who’s (who is) going to the store with me?” and you might say “I don’t care whose shoes they are.” (I don’t care to whom these shoes belong.)


Wrong: While at work, you may only smoke outside.
Right: While at work, you may smoke only outside (or “outside only”).

Is smoking the only thing you can do outside? That’s what the first example suggests: no walking, talking, or anything else but smoking. Often, only can be used in multiple places within a sentence and impart different meanings to that sentence depending on where it’s used. For this reason, it’s best to position the word as close as possible to the word it modifies (in this case outside).

Stay tuned for more of these words and phrases.


Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Battlefield, 1863

I just found out that a piece of flash fiction I wrote, "Battlefield, 1863", has been accepted for publication in an online journal called The Fiction Flyer. They haven't decided yet when it will appear, but in either the Summer or Fall issue.

The story is a bit of historical fiction, set--amazingly enough--on a Civil War battlefield in 1863. As short as the story is (236 words) I did research to be sure it was historically accurate.

I'll post a link here when the issue is available. I'm sure you'll enjoy it (the whole publication, not just my story. )


Sunday, May 25, 2008

Commonly misused/misspelled words and phrases (Part 34)

Here are still more commonly misused and misspelled words and how to use them correctly.

Kudo vs. kudos

Wrong: That’s deserving of a kudo.
Wrong: That’s deserving of many kudos.
Right: That’s deserving of kudos.

Kudos means praise or acclaim. Despite the “s” on the end, it’s singular, not plural. Therefore kudo as a singular form, and kudos used as a plural are both incorrect.

Mano a mano vs. man to man

Wrong: He’s going to take him on mano a mano.
Right: He’s going to take him on man-to-man.

Okay, this isn’t exactly an English phrase, but I see it misused so often in English writing that I felt the need to mention it. Presumably due to the spelling, many English speakers use the phrase as if it means “man to man.” In fact, mano a mano literally means “hand to hand” in Spanish, as in hand-to-hand combat. (I’ve also seen/heard it misused as mano y mano, or hand and hand, which makes even less sense.) There’s no point in spicing up your writing with foreign phrases if you’re going to use them incorrectly. If you mean one-on-one, head-to-head, or man-to-man, why not just say so?

I gotta million of 'em, I tell ya! Come back next time for more.


Commonly misused/misspelled words and phrases (Part 33)

Here are some more words that are often misused or misspelled:


Wrong: Irregardless of his feelings, we have to do it.
Right: Regardless of his feelings, we have to do it.

“Irregardless” is an erroneous combination of irrespective and regardless, synonyms that mean “without regard” or “unmindful.”

Would of / could of

Wrong: I would of come with you if you would of asked.
Right: I would have come with you if you’d asked.

Would of/could of/should of are improper grammar. Always use “have” instead of “of” or use the contractions, would’ve/could’ve/should’ve. (Alternatively, substitute other phrases, such as “you had” or “you’d”, in the example above.)

Come back again for more words and how to use them correctly.


Sunday, May 18, 2008

Commonly misused/misspelled words and phrases (Part 32)

More oft-messed-up words with tips for how to use them correctly:

Do to vs. due to

Wrong: We failed do to your incompetence!
Right: We failed due to your incompetence!

Due to means “because of.” Do to is simply a spelling confusion due to the similarity in pronunciation of the words.

You and me vs. you and I

Wrong: You and me have to go get Dan.
Right: You and I have to go get Dan.
Wrong: Do you want to go to the store with Dan and I?
Right: Do you want to go to the store with Dan and me?

Confusing? It’s actually quite simple to figure out when to say you and I versus you and me. The rule I learned is to leave out the other party and see how it sounds. In the first example, above, you wouldn’t say “Me have to go get Dan.” You’d say, “I have to go get Dan.” Similarly, you’d say “(You and) I have to go get Dan.” In the second example, you wouldn’t say, “Do you want to go to the store with I?” You’d say, “Do you want to go to the store with me?” So, you’d say “Do you want to go to the store with (Dan and) me?” (And, of course, we all know never to say “Me and you…,” unless we’re writing dialog for someone who speaks in an uneducated manner—right?)

There's gold in them thar hills. Keep coming back for more nuggets.


Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Commonly misused/misspelled words and phrases (Part 31)

There are may words that are often misused or misspelled. Here are some more, with tips on how to use them correctly:

Mucus vs. mucous

Wrong: The flames seared the mucus membranes in his nose.
Right: The flames seared the mucous membranes in his nose.

Mucous (adjective) membranes secrete mucus (noun). Hey, I don’t make this stuff up….

Poo-poo vs. pooh-pooh vs. pupu

Wrong: You always poo-poo new ideas.
Right: You always pooh-pooh new ideas.

Poo-poo is what an infant does in its diaper, while pooh-pooh is what you do to an idea you don’t like. Pupu is a selection of snacks served on a platter in a Chinese restaurant. Just make sure they serve you a pupu platter, and not a poo-poo platter! (I’d ask for my money back on that one….)

Perogative vs. prerogative

Wrong: That’s your perogative.
Right: That’s your prerogative.

Perogative is a simple misspelling of prerogative.

That's it for now. Come back for more next time.


Sunday, May 11, 2008

Commonly misused/misspelled words and phrases (Part 30)

There are still quite a few more words that are often misused by writers. Here are some more:

Discrete vs. discreet

Wrong: We have to be discrete about it.
Right: We have to be discreet about it.

Discreet means to be circumspect or prudent, while discrete means distinct or separate. If you see friends pairing off into discrete couples at a party, you might want to be discreet about whom you tell.

Biweekly vs. semiweekly / bimonthly vs. semimonthly / biannual vs. semiannual

Wrong: Do you have both of this week’s biweekly reports ready?
Right: Do you have both of this week’s semiweekly reports ready?

I often see biweekly used incorrectly for semiweekly. The prefix “bi” means two (bicycle literally means “two wheels”), while “semi” means half. When referring to something that happens every other week, say biweekly. But if it occurs two times a week (once every half-week), use semiweekly. If you can’t remember the distinction, you can always say twice-weekly or twice a week. Bimonthly/semimonthly and biannual/semiannual work the same way.

Keep checking back for more words next time.


Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Sunrise Destiny will be published by Red Rose Publishing

I mailed the contract yesterday, so it's official. I don't have an estimated release date, but my sci-fi novel, Sunrise Destiny (SD) will be published later this year, first as an ebook, and then possibly later in paperback. (For more information about SD, see my website.)

This will be my third published novel, following The Mars Imperative (TMI) and The Tesserene Imperative (TTI), published in 2007. (That publisher, unfortunately, has gone bankrupt, so now I have to find a new publisher for them.)

My fourth novel, My Other Car is a Spaceship, is just about ready to begin submitting to publishers. So who knows? I may have more good news to report in a few months. (My fifth novel, as yet untitled, is the sequel to TMI and TTI. It's approximately half-written.)

More later when I get some details.


Commonly misused/misspelled words and phrases (Part 29)

More often misused or misspelled words:

Disperse vs. disburse

Wrong: Make sure you disperse everyone’s pay on time this week.
Right: Make sure you disburse everyone’s pay on time this week.

Disperse means to scatter or spread widely. You probably wouldn’t want someone to do that with your paycheck. On the other hand, you might want to disperse smoke or an unruly mob. Money, on the other hand, is disbursed, or paid out. (Adding to the confusion between the two words is a secondary meaning for disburse of distributing or scattering. Still, even through you might disburse troops you wouldn’t want to disperse someone’s money….)

Noone vs. no one

Wrong: There was noone there to meet me.
Right: There was no one there to meet me.

There’s no such word as noone (unless you’re a fan of the rock group Herman’s Hermits’ lead singer Peter Noone). It’s correctly written as no one.

Stay tuned for the next thrilling edition.