Tuesday, March 29, 2011

CRAFT: Word Usage

Follow up from yesterday's post ... let's look at some commonly misused words and phrases.

Borrowed from THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE by Strunk and White, pages 44-56:

Disinterested. Means "impartial." Do not confuse it with uninterested, which means "not interested in."

-ize. Do not coin verbs by adding this tempting suffix. Many good and useful verbs do end in -ize: summarize, fraternize, harmonize, fertilize. But there is a growing list of abominations: containerize, prioritize, finalize, to name three.

Nauseous. Nauseated. The first means "sickening to contemplate"; the second means "sick at the stomach." Do not, therefore, say, "I feel nauseous," unless you are sure you have that effect on others.

People. A word with many meanings. ... The word people is best not used with words of number, in place of persons. If of "six people" five went away, how many would be left? Answer: one people.

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A note from Margo: If you found any of these interesting or eye opening, I highly recommend this book! Many points are obvious to me, but I am shocked at how many "rules" I did not know before reading this book. Hmm. Maybe these are the types of little errors the agents quickly spot in novice query letters and submissions?

12 comments:

  1. Good reminders--we all need some brush up on rules from time to time.

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  2. I have that book and you're right, it's fantastic!

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  3. I've heard varying opinions on Strunk & White. I've never read the book so not sure what to think myself. I'm currently doing a diploma in publishing & editing and the grammar lecturer is one of the haters of this book.

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  4. Loved this one--I always call my daughter out on improper usage of "I feel nauseous." :) "But that's what (best friend) Karen says, and she's the smartest kid in class." "Karen is wrong, sweetie."

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  5. One of my pet peeves is "conversate." So many people use that today. "We conversated about what to do." It's not the root word; should be conversed."

    Interesting topic.

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  6. Sari - I'd be VERY interested to know WHY he hates it! He could write a guest post for me! :)

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  7. Whaaat? Finalize is not a word? I'm so crushed. LOL I didn't know the diff between nauseous and nauseated either. Interesting, and thanks for passing this on. :)

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  8. Those were really interesting. I have this book, but haven't read it from cover to cover. Perhaps I should!

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  9. I didn't know finalize wasn't a word either. Spell check doesn't pick it up...

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  10. Ah, the English language. The rules never end. All those days of skipping Ms. Umberger's English class are going to be the death of me.

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  11. Turns out I've been using 'disinterested' incorrectly my entire life. Oops! Thanks for the post! :-)

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