Saturday, May 30, 2015

flounder/founder: Common Errors in English Usage Entry for Saturday, May 30, 2015

flounder/founder
As a verb, “founder” means “to fill with water and sink.” It is also used metaphorically of various kinds of equally catastrophic failures. In contrast, to flounder is to thrash about in the water (like a flounder), struggling to stay alive. “Flounder” is also often used metaphorically to indicate various sorts of desperate struggle. If you’re sunk, you’ve foundered. If you’re still struggling, you’re floundering.



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Friday, May 29, 2015

ink pen/pen: Common Errors in English Usage Entry for Friday, May 29, 2015

ink pen/pen
If there were any danger of confusing pens for writing with other kinds of pens (light-, sea-, pig-) the phrase “ink pen” might be useful, but it seems to be mainly a way of saying “not a pencil.” Plain old “pen” will do fine.

 
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This is the ten-year anniversary of the Common Errors in English Usage calendar. To celebrate, we are bringing back some of our favorite interesting, funny, but sometimes merely silly entries through the years before going on hiatus in 2016.

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Thursday, May 28, 2015

dove/dived: Common Errors in English Usage Entry for Thursday, May 28, 2015

dove/dived
Although “dove” is a common form of the past tense of “dive,” a few authorities consider “dived” preferable in formal writing.

 
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This is the ten-year anniversary of the Common Errors in English Usage calendar. To celebrate, we are bringing back some of our favorite interesting, funny, but sometimes merely silly entries through the years before going on hiatus in 2016.

Enjoy the calendar? Buy the book!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

jewelry: Common Errors in English Usage Entry for Wednesday, May 27, 2015

jewelry
Often mispronounced “joolereee.” To remember the standard pronunciation, just say “jewel” and add “-ree” on the end. The British spelling is much fancier: “jewellery.”




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This is the ten-year anniversary of the Common Errors in English Usage calendar. To celebrate, we are bringing back some of our favorite interesting, funny, but sometimes merely silly entries through the years before going on hiatus in 2016.

Enjoy the calendar? Buy the book!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

away/a way: Common Errors in English Usage Entry for Tuesday, May 26, 2015

away/a way
“Jessica commented on my haircut in a way that made me think maybe I shouldn’t have let my little sister do it for me.” In this sort of context, “a way” should always be two distinct words, though many people use the single word “away” instead. If you’re uncertain, try substituting another word for “way”: “in a manner that,” “in a style that.” If the result makes sense, you need the two-word phrase. Then you can tell Jessica to just go away.

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This is the ten-year anniversary of the Common Errors in English Usage calendar. To celebrate, we are bringing back some of our favorite interesting, funny, but sometimes merely silly entries through the years before going on hiatus in 2016.

Enjoy the calendar? Buy the book!

Monday, May 25, 2015

verse/play against: Common Errors in English Usage Entry for Monday, May 25, 2015

verse/play against 
Some young people use “verse” as a verb meaning “to play against,” as in “I’ll verse you at basketball after school.” Computer gamers are particularly fond of virtual opponents versing each other. Presumably this bit of slang derives from the word “versus,” but it’s not standard English and is likely to confuse outsiders.

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This is the ten-year anniversary of the Common Errors in English Usage calendar. To celebrate, we are bringing back some of our favorite interesting, funny, but sometimes merely silly entries through the years before going on hiatus in 2016.

Enjoy the calendar? Buy the book!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

disinterested/uninterested: Common Errors in English Usage Entry for Sunday, May 24, 2015

disinterested/uninterested
A bored person is uninterested. Do not confuse this word with the much rarer “disinterested,” which means “objective, neutral.”



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This is the ten-year anniversary of the Common Errors in English Usage calendar. To celebrate, we are bringing back some of our favorite interesting, funny, but sometimes merely silly entries through the years before going on hiatus in 2016.

Enjoy the calendar? Buy the book!