“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.
Why do we get it wrong?
Weary means exhausted or tired. However, because of the similarity in sound to wary and leery, both of which mean cautious or suspicious, people often get them mixed up.
And the more people we hear making the mistake, the more prone we are to repeating it.
Why should you care?
If everyone’s making the same mistake, why should you care?
First of all, everyone isn’t making this mistake, and it stands out to those who know the difference and chips away at your credibility as a writer. Right or wrong, readers expect writers to be experts in all areas relating to their craft. They trust you to know your words, and many, especially younger readers, learn a great deal of their language skills from what they read.
Second, while a good editor should catch the error, we’re not perfect, either. Things sometimes slip through. And there may be times you don’t even have access to an editor.
Then, there’s the matter of clarity. If you say, “I’m weary of all these offers credit card companies keep sending me,” does that mean you’re tired of all the junk mail piling up or suspicious that they’re trying to rip you off?
Finally, while this error is becoming more common, it’s still quite a way from becoming accepted common usage. Some day the definition of weary may be expanded to make it a synonym of wary and leery, but not yet.
Let’s be precise and deliberate with our words. Be wary of errors and never weary of learning something new.
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.
Most of us decide to become writers because we have a message to share with the world. Unfortunately, our instincts often get in the way of sharing that message in a way that readers can absorb.
I’m just as guilty as the next person. I think of what I want to say. Sometimes (usually), I lay it out in a list or outline. Then, I baldly state what I have to say and wonder why no one responds. It’s a lesson I know in my head but am still working on putting into practice. (See most of my blog posts for examples.)
Are you guilty of this too?
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.
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?
As a writer you’ve probably noticed that the way we write and the way we speak are often very different. And one of the ways our written language differs from our spoken language lies in the completeness of our thoughts.
When we speak, we rarely take the time to make sure all of our sentences are complete and grammatical. Quite often, we throw out related fragments of ideas and expect our listeners to combine those with context, vocal intonation, facial expressions, and gestures to reconstruct our meaning.
However, when we write, all we have to communicate with readers are our words, so we’re much more careful to form complete and complex sentences. But is there a place for sentence fragments in our writing?
As with most other questions relating to writing, it depends.
We often think of the search for gender-neutral pronouns as a modern development, a result of the emerging public recognition of multiple genders and the difficulty with keeping up with terminology that seems to change daily. However, writers have been working at this problem for far longer.
Aside from the growing number of genders people identify as, there are instances when gender is unknown. For instance, an unidentified thief could be a man or a woman, but if we use he to refer to the thief, we run the risk of creating unintentional bias and missing the true culprit.
If you pay attention to the conversations around you, you may notice that most of us default to using they as both singular and plural, much the same way we do with you. Unfortunately, when it comes to writing, things aren’t so simple.
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.