Compliment or Complement?
If you do much reading at all, you’ve probably seen these two words mixed up, one for the other. It’s one of the more common errors in the English language.
Are You Weary? Or Wary or Leery?
“I’m weary of anything that looks too easy. If something seems too good to be true, it usually is.”
“Be weary of anyone who calls or emails you and asks for your personal information.”
I have to admit that this use of weary is one that grates on my ears every time I hear it (or read it).
However, it’s becoming a more and more common error. And as much as I want to harumph and grumble like the word snob I often am, it’s an understandable one.
But it’s also easily avoidable once you’re aware of it.
When Is New Year’s Capitalized?
Most of us know that the names of holidays are capitalized, but there are some holiday names that are capitalized only some of the time. How do you know when to capitalize and when to use lowercase?
With holidays like Christmas, it’s not a problem, but New Year’s Day is a whole other problem. Part of the problem is that we often shorten it to New Year’s and also refer to the coming year as the new year.
For Sale vs. On Sale
Today’s post is going to be a short one, directed at those of you in sales and marketing, whether that’s for your own small business or for a large corporation. (It also allows me to rationalize voicing one of my pet peeves.)
It’s becoming more and more common to see these two phrases being used interchangeably. However, they’re not the same, and an informal poll among editors from all over the world confirms it.
A miniscule portion of the living, evolving creature we know as the English language gets passed along to us through the written word. So many of the everyday words and phrases we use came to us verbally, making converting them into a written language with standardized spelling especially difficult.
And while the internet and social media come to us largely through writing, I think we can all agree they have not been a help with spelling and grammar.
In modern American English, we don’t use a lot of diacritical marks (e.g., é, ñ, or ü) in our daily writing and typing.
For example, I had to dig through Word’s list of symbols to find the ones I’ve used so far because I don’t have the keyboard shortcuts memorized. Actually, the fact that they’re not a standard feature of most keyboards is telling.
However, there are some words in the English language where the inclusion of diacritical marks is still recommended. One of the most common is résumé.
We’re all guilty of it, in everyday speech and in our writing. Circumlocution is one of those points where language and cultural norms cross.
In fact, circumlocution means talking around something.
Ask any group of word nerds to list their grammar pet peeves, and you won’t have to wait long before someone starts bemoaning the fact that no one knows the difference between compose and comprise these days.
It’s true that about anywhere you look, the two terms seem to be used interchangeably by many writers. But are they the same? And if not, what’s the difference?
We all want to sound intelligent when we’re speaking or writing, and that means we genuinely try to adhere to standard grammar rules.
However, sometimes, we try a little too hard. We try so hard to sound right that we end up getting it very wrong.
One of the most common mistakes is to use I or myself in a place where a simple me is called for.
(X indicates a grammatically incorrect example sentence.)
I still remember that lesson in elementary school when the teacher tried to convince us that, when someone calls and asks for us, the correct response is, “This is she (or whatever pronoun is appropriate in your case).” Yeah, we weren’t buying it either.
It was awkward and unnatural, and we’d never heard anyone say it in real life. But what is the correct usage?
Rebecca has a passion for helping you fill the world with great literature and making sure said literature doesn't get passed over for the lack of a little editing.