by Todd Hunt, Business Humorist
In case the Easter punny misses you on Sunday, here are five April Fools puns to fathom:
1) Acupuncture is a jab well done.
2) If a clock is hungry does it go back four seconds?
3) Without geometry, life is pointless.
4) Corduroy pillows are making headlines.
5) I did a theatrical performance about puns. It was a play on words. (Barbara’s favorite)
OK – your turn. Write your worst puns in the comments below!
Business humorist Todd Hunt speaks to organizations that want to add fun to their events and send members back to work smiling—with tips to improve communication and success. Visit him at ToddHuntSpeaker.com
Editor’s Note: Todd tackles Word Tripper types of confusing words as I do. His latest video clears up the difference between “podium vs. lectern” (because you’re dying to know). And you can watch his past episodes here. Enjoy!
Editor’s Note: Every day is National Grammar Day in my book. Still, I’m glad to have a day that draws attention to word misuses and what’s correct. Plus I never forget March 4th; it’s our wedding anniversary. I’m blessed to be married to a wonderful guy for 27 years!
by Barbara McNichol
I love watching the TV show “Dancing with the Stars” but even this escape doesn’t give me a break from grammar glitches. In one episode alone, I counted four times when participants and/or hosts misused the pronouns as they spoke.
As a society, if we repeatedly hear words used incorrectly on national TV (and all around us), how will we ever know what’s right?
Without attempting to overcome years of grammar neglect, watch out for certain common pronoun misuses so you get a feel for what’s correct—and what’s not.
“Me and Jack” finished the report. It should be “Jack and I” finished the report.
Rule: When the subject is more than one, you need a subjective pronoun (I, she, he, we, they, who). (“Subjective” refers to the pronoun’s place in the sentence—as a subject.)
Clue: Say the sentence without “Jack.” I finished the report. Now it’s easy to tell which pronoun is correct.
“Bob hired Peggy and I to draft the proposal.” It should be “Peggy and me.”
Rule: “Peggy and me” is the object of the verb “draft” and therefore requires an objective pronoun (me, her, him, us, them, whom). (“Objective” refers to the pronoun’s place in the sentence—as an object.)
Clue: Say the sentence without “Peggy and.” Does it sound right to say “Bob hired I to draft the proposal”? You know it doesn’t!
“Between you and I, we got the job done.” It should be “you and me.”
Rule: In this sentence, “me” is the object of the preposition “between” and therefore requires an objective pronoun (me, her, him, us, them, whom).
“Roger, Lloyd, and myself finished the drawings.” It should be “Roger, Lloyd, and I finished the drawings.”
Rule: You can’t use a “-self” pronoun (myself, yourself, himself, herself, themselves, ourselves) unless it refers to another noun or pronoun used earlier in the sentence.
Clue: Look for the referring word that precedes the pronoun.
To receive a one-page chart that shows at a glance which pronouns to use where in a sentence, email me with “Proper Pronouns” in the subject line.
Get a head start on your New Year’s resolutions with a resource that makes you a better writer all year long.This 52-week subscription program provides Word Tripper of the Week, a multitude of writing tips, and even two crossword puzzles!
Praise for Word Trippers Tips
“Barbara’s Word Trippers material should be in everyone’s back pocket. It is a quintessential reference for those words that can stump us with their appropriate use. Highly recommended.” – Mary Shaefer, author
“You don’t want to embarrass yourself in print. But figuring out the differences can be time-consuming and sometimes confusing. You’ll find clear explanations for each of the commonly confused word pairs. That makes it quick and easy to select the option that applies and then get back to the task at hand.” – Lynette Smith, editor, author
Editor’s note: This article struck a chord (not cord) with me and fans of Word Trippers. It offers numerous examples of written language misuses on television—networks that should know better! Be sure to leave your comments and examples below. (For a resource to find the right words fast, go to www.wordtrippers.com)
Reprinted from e-newsletter for Grammarbook.com
TV networks’ graphics departments have long been out of control with their intrusive cluelessness.
After 9/11, many cable channels initiated a constant “crawl” of news at the bottom of the screen. The spellbinding stream of words, slow and endless, is perversely distracting.
But if you run a news channel, shouldn’t credibility be a front-burner concern? Shaky language skills for all to see raise serious questions about your standards and practices. Are you stupid, or do you just think we are? Who put manic ignoramuses in charge of your graphics department?
The examples that follow all happened in recent months:
- An ABC affiliate, thinking mischievous has four syllables, spelled it “mischievious.” Another ABC graphic said, “Wake Forrest,” then proved it was no fluke with “Angeles National Forrest.”
- An NBC affiliate came up with “To good to be true.” We’re still taught about to, too, and two, aren’t we? Maybe it was Bring Your First-Grader to Work Day.
- Fox fell into a common trap with “wrecking havoc”—the proper phrase is wreaking havoc. And Fox embarrassed itself with “embarassed.” In “alledged embassy bomber,” it earned an F by adding a second d to alleged. A superfluous ‘i’ in “How has the president faired?” meant fare thee well, credibility.
- CNN joined the party with “theif” and “Iranian peoples’ belief.” Put that apostrophe where it belongs, would you? And CNN might have won the knucklehead sweepstakes with this bizarre bulletin: “Houses OKs climate change.” Where do you begin with that one? It’s an inspired fusion of horrid grammar and utter meaninglessness.
Why do TV networks, some of them scrutinized around the world, undermine themselves with sloppy grammar, spelling, and punctuation?
Please share your comments and examples of language misuses on TV.
by Barbara McNichol
As a life-long editor who’s had a professional editing service for 23+ years, I frequently trip over embarrassing writing mistakes—e.g., “except” instead of “accept” or “complement” instead of “compliment” and hundreds more. Clearly, English is a tricky language!
The question I’ve asked for eons is “How can I help people avoid embarrassment and quickly find the correct word?” So I coined the Word Trippers model as a way to quickly distinguish between tricky words. Here’s an example:
Affirm, confirm – “Affirm” means to declare positively or firmly, to assert as true or factual, while “confirm” means to verify, make firmer, strengthen, support or establish validity. “Working on the campaign helped confirm my intention to go into politics,” he affirmed in his announcement speech.
I couldn’t stop! After creating an extensive resource featuring 390+ common Word Trippers, I sent out Word Tripper of the Week for 3+ years, and I featured Word Trippers in my WordShops.
Then it dawned on me. I could combine Word Tripper of the Week with proven writing techniques through an innovative subscription resource: Word Trippers Tips. It’s designed for:
- Business professionals
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Word Trippers Tips assists people who value accuracy in communication.
- Saves you time looking up definitions
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- Helps avoid writing mistakes that lead to confusion
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- Boosts your confidence by knowing the correct words
All these benefits are yours! Bring Word Trippers Tips and its multiple bonuses into your world.
Word Trippers Tips saves me a lot of research time because it gives me a quick reference instead of going to Google. I save every Word Tripper of the Week so when my boss or co-workers disagree on how to use a word, Word Trippers becomes the referee. All of us live on email. If someone sends me one that’s sloppily written, it’s like saying, “I don’t have time for you.” I want to be sure I write clearly and accurately. Word Trippers Tips is perfect for me! – Susan Powell, Team Lead, Ratner Companies
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by Kathleen Watson (used with permission)
We’re about to the end (thank goodness!) of a historic election.
Or is it a historical election?
Or an historic / historical election?
Or maybe it’s simply hysterical?
If you’re now as confused as I am, here’s the rest of the story:
historic (adjective): famous or important in history, or potentially so; having great and lasting importance
The historic importance of Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address is widely recognized.
The president was pleased to see so many citizens attend the historic ceremony.
The Supreme Court has heard many historic cases.
historical (adjective): of or relating to history or past events; belonging to the past rather than the present; based on history
He has a collection of historical artifacts from the Revolutionary War.
There’s no historical data to support her claim.
Historical treasures abound at the new National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.
We historically have always followed the board meeting with dinner.
Historical also can mean showing development based on chronological order:
They provided a historical account of the battles of the Revolutionary War.
Killer Tip to help remember the difference:
One source describes historic as implying judgment, because the term deems something as significant. Historical, on the other hand, simply describes anything from or that occurred in the distant past.
And remember: a historical, not an historical
Hysterical, by the way, is defined as marked by uncontrollable, extreme emotion. Enough said.
To complete this post, there is a valid word that I don’t recall every having heard — and I don’t expect to ever use it, unless possibly in jest:
historicalness (noun), the state of having existed in the past; the quality or fact of being historical
Now you have it: the meanings and implications of historic and historical. Expand the enlightenment by sharing this post with others who might find these highly similar terms as confusing as I — and maybe some of you — did.
Kathleen Watson is known as the ruthless editor. She has just published an excellent grammar book that clears up questions that have been festering. Lie vs. lay is just one of 60 tips you’ll find in Grammar for People Who Hate Rules: Killer Tips from The Ruthless Editor. At $8.95, that’s just 15 cents a tip!
To buy your copy, click here: Grammar for People Who Hate Rules: Killer Tips from The Ruthless Editor.
by Barbara McNichol
Words make it possible to say what you mean in writing. But they can step on your success, too.
In your communications, what happens if you use the wrong word in the wrong way—such as ending that important message “with my complements” instead “with my compliments”?
Definitely, you risk raising doubt in the minds of those you want to impress.
Don’t Get Egg on Your Face
You risk embarrassment and a lot more. You can:
- Cause confusion, even delays, by sending unclear messages
- Waste precious time revising and rewriting to clarify your meaning
- Smudge your reputation among co-workers, colleagues, and customers who wonder, “Does she know the difference between ‘compliments’ and ‘complements’—really?”
When pesky pairings (is it “adopt” or “adapt”?) trip you up, you need to know!
Word Trippers Example
Adopt, adapt – “Adopt” means to take as one’s own (e.g., someone else’s child), to choose (e.g., a lifestyle), or to formally accept (e.g., a position or principle). “Adapt” is to adjust to various conditions. “When you adopt a young girl, make it easy for her to adapt to your living environment.”
Turn to Your Ultimate Source for Choosing the Perfect Word When It Really Matters!
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By knowing the right word to use in the right place, your professionalism moves up a notch. And by receiving a new Word Tripper each week, you can isolate the latest and learn it well.
With Word Trippers Tips, you’ll get a Word Tripper of the Week (text plus graphic plus audio) in your in-box every week for a full year. Plus the minute you register for Word Trippers Tips, you’ll receive an ebook compilation of 390+ Word Trippers.
Plus once a quarter, you’ll receive practical bonuses—tools to improve your punctuation, grammar, and word use—plus a webinar and crossword puzzle.
by Hugh Culver (used with permission)
I’m not a word-nerd, really.
But, when I’m scrolling through your post or email or book draft or whatever and come across a word that doesn’t belong (or, for that matter, doesn’t exist), I come to a screeching stop—can’t help it.
So I thought I would save you the embarrassment and share a list of 11 incorrectly used words. You can thank me by adding your own examples in the comments below.
Hair we go (just kidding).
1 – Everyday and every day
Years ago, my wife and I were driving a rented convertible VW in Baja with our 6-year-old daughter in the back when I saw an airline’s billboard that, in part, read “veulos total dia” (flights all day).
Trying to sound smart, I started asking anyone serving us if they had what I wanted “total dia.” The comical looks I received told the whole story; what I should have asked was do they have it every day (“¿cada dia?”).
In English, we say everyday when we mean common or normal, as in “It became an everyday occurrence.”
Whereas, every day means today, tomorrow, the next day, and so on, as in “It happens every day.”
2 – Adapt and adopt
If you adapt something you change it, to adopt is to take it as your own. So, after you read this list you can adopt the correct word use and adapt it for your blog.
3 – Already and all ready
You can simplify this one by thinking of already as talking about the past, as in “I already told him that.” And all ready as being about the future, as in “I was all ready to tell him that.”
Have you got that already?
4 – Regardless and Irregardless
Let’s set the record straight on this one: “irregardless” is not a word; the word you want is regardless. Regardless of what you’re working on or speaking about, that should make you sound smarter.
5 – Especially and specially
This is one of those examples you might need to say out loud to know which to use.
Usually, especially means particularly, as in “The speech was especially difficult to finish.”
Whereas specially usually means “in a special or careful manner” or “specifically,” such as “She made a special effort for that client.”
That was an especially subtle distinction.
6 – Between and among
Use between when you’re distinguishing between a list of separate, distinct items: “The difference between a Frappuccino, latte and espresso is…”
Use among when talking about things that are not distinct: “There’s a big difference among bloggers.” You can also use among to indicate someone is part of a group: “She felt at home among the coffee-drinking bloggers.”
7 – Advise and advice
Put simply, advise is a verb, advice is a noun. The quickest test is to say your sentence out loud. Like this one: “Nobody goes to a coach for advice.”
8 – Stationary and stationery
You write on stationery that is (hopefully) stationary. Get it?
9 – Principle and principal
Your high school principal might have taught you principles. You might even say that was principally her job.
My trick to remember the difference between principal and principle is the “pal” in principal refers to a person – so then principle must be the other meaning.
There are other meanings for principal, including the non-interest part of your loan and the principal in a firm (as in high-level partner).
10 – Then and than
When you use then you’re talking about time, as in, “I finished my blog and then doubled checked it against Hugh’s list of 11 incorrectly used words.”
You use than to compare something, such as “After reading Hugh’s list, I’m smarter than before.” (Of course you are.)
11 – Impact, affect, and effect
This is a tricky one.
First, impact should only be used when there is a physical action involved: “I was impacted from behind.”
Use effect if you are making a change happen and affect if you are helping make the change happen.
Bottom line: stop saying you’ll impact change, sales, productivity, or your marriage (especially marriage); use affect instead.
Hugh Culver a recovering over-achiever who researches, writes, and speaks on how to THINK better, PLAN smarter, and ACT now on what really matters. Learn lots more at www.HughCulver.com