Wednesday, November 26, 2014

wet your appetite/whet your appetite: Common Errors in English Usage Entry for Wednesday, November 26, 2014

wet your appetite/whet your appetite
It is natural to think that something mouth-watering “wets your appetite,” but actually the expression is “whet your appetite”—sharpen your appetite, as a whetstone sharpens a knife.

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Want to give the Common Errors in English Usage book as a gift? We can help! One day only—this coming Friday, November 28—use the coupon code TWELVE to order the book for only $12 US with free shipping included. (Link to buy the book will be included with this message later this week.)

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Upcoming one-day sale on the Common Errors in English Usage book

This extra entry to the Common Errors in English Usage calendar is to make sure you are aware of the upcoming one-day sale this Friday, November 28. On that day only, you can enter the coupon code TWELVE on checkout and order the Common Errors in English Usage book for only $12 US—a $7 savings, and shipping the US is free. Subscribers can follow the link at the bottom of the calendar entry that day; for everyone else, check this blog for the Friday entry to get the deal. There is no limit on this offer, so order as many and as often as you like all day long.

amature/amateur: Common Errors in English Usage Entry for Tuesday, November 25, 2014

amature/amateur
Most of the words we’ve borrowed from the French that have retained their “-eur” endings are pretty sophisticated, like “restaurateur” (notice, no N) and “auteur” (in film criticism), but “amateur” attracts amateurish spelling.

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CORRECTION TO YESTERDAY’S ENTRY: Jan Freeman has noted via twitter that “dialectal” would be the correct formation, not “dialectical,” in the phrase “‘Ourn’ is dialectal.”


Want to give the Common Errors in English Usage book as a gift? We can help! One day only—this coming Friday, November 28—use the coupon code TWELVE to order the book for only $12 US with free shipping included. (Link to buy the book will be included with this message later this week.)

Monday, November 24, 2014

ourn/ours: Common Errors in English Usage Entry for Monday, November 24, 2014

ourn/ours
“Ourn” is dialectical; “ours” is standard English. “Well, shoot!” says Jeb, “That may be the way some folks talk, but it ain’t ourn.”

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CORRECTION: Jan Freeman has noted via twitter that “dialectal” would be the correct formation here, not “dialectical.”

Friday, November 21, 2014

fellow classmate/classmate: The Weekend Edition—Common Errors in English Usage Entry for Friday–Sunday, November 21–23, 2014

fellow classmate/classmate
Some redundancies are so common that few people notice them, but it’s worthwhile to be aware of them. A good example is “fellow classmate.” “Fellow” and “-mate” perform the same function. It’s better to say simply “classmate.”

The same is true of the equally redundant “fellow shipmate,” “ fellow roommate,” “fellow co-worker,” “fellow comrade,” and “fellow colleague.”

Even worse is “fellow peer.” Your fellows are your peers: same thing. The only people who should speak of fellow peers are members of the British peerage referring to others of their social class.

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The Week's End Extra from the Archives: "Learning to spell with Obamacare: Are policies being canceled, or are they being cancelled?" (November 19, 2013).

Thursday, November 20, 2014

touché: Common Errors in English Usage Entry for Thursday, November 20, 2014

touché
In formal fencing matches, when someone is hit by an opponent’s sword it is traditional for the person hit to cry out touché (French for “touched”) to acknowledge that fact. In other contexts, we may say touché when somebody scores a point against us in an argument, or otherwise skewers us verbally.

It is inappropriate to cry touché when you think you are the one who has skewered your opponent. Touché is not a synonym for “gotcha!”

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

antihero: Common Errors in English Usage Entry for Wednesday, November 19, 2014

antihero
In literature, theater, and film, an antihero is a central character who is not very admirable: weak, lazy, incompetent, or mean-spirited. However, antiheroes are rarely actually evil, and you should not use this word as a synonym for “villain” if you want to get a good grade on your English lit paper.