Thursday, October 31, 2013

syllabi/syllabus: Common Errors in English Usage Entry for Thursday, October 31, 2013

syllabi/syllabus
“Syllabi” is the plural of “syllabus,” but you can also say “syllabuses.” Don’t call a single course schedule a “syllabi.”

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

peal out/peel out: Common Errors in English Usage Entry for Tuesday, October 29, 2013

peal out/peel out
Bells and thunderclaps peal out; but if your car “lays down rubber” in a squealing departure, the expression is “peel out” because you are literally peeling a layer of rubber off your tires.

Monday, October 28, 2013

within/among: Common Errors in English Usage Entry for Monday, October 28, 2013

within/among
“Within” means literally “inside of,” but when you want to compare similarities or differences between things you may need “among” instead. It’s not “There are some entertaining movies within the current releases,” but “among the current releases.” But you can use “within” by rewriting the sentence to lump the movies together into a single entity: “There are some entertaining movies within the current batch of releases.” A batch is a single thing, and the individual films that make it up are within it.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

cope up/cope with: Common Errors in English Usage Entry for Sunday, October 27, 2013

cope up/cope with
When you can’t keep up with your work you may not be able to cope with your job; but you never “cope up” with anything. In casual speech we say “I can’t cope” but in formal writing “cope” is normally followed by “with.”


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Read about the new edition of Common Errors in English Usage on the Common Errors blog.

If you are not ready for a change, you can still order the second edition at the discounted price of $12 (while supplies last).

Saturday, October 26, 2013

ascribe/subscribe: Common Errors in English Usage Entry for Saturday, October 26, 2013

ascribe/subscribe
If you agree with a theory or belief, you subscribe to it, just as you subscribe to a magazine.

Ascribe is a very different word. If you ascribe a belief to someone, you are attributing the belief to that person, perhaps wrongly.


__________________
Read about the new edition of Common Errors in English Usage on the Common Errors blog.

If you are not ready for a change, you can still order the second edition at the discounted price of $12 (while supplies last).

Friday, October 25, 2013

disasterous/disastrous: Common Errors in English Usage Entry for Friday, October 25, 2013

disasterous/disastrous
“Disastrous” has only three syllables, and is pronounced diz-ASS-truss. Because of its relationship to the word “disaster” many people insert an extra second syllable when speaking the word aloud, or even when writing it, resulting in “disasterous.” Not a disastrous error, but it can be an embarrassing one.


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This week's entries feature selections from the revised and expanded third edition of Common Errors in English Usage—now available to order on the William, James & Company Web site. The cover price is $19, but enter the coupon code FIFTEEN to buy it for the introductory price of $15 through the end of this year.

Read about the new edition on the Common Errors blog.

If you are not ready for a change, you can still order the second edition at the discounted price of $12 (while supplies last).

As always, both editions come with free shipping within the US.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

over and out/out: Common Errors in English Usage Entry for Thursday, October 24, 2013

over and out/out
There is an old tradition in two-way radio communication of saying “over” to indicate that the speaker is through talking and inviting the other person to speak. You are turning the air over to the person you’re speaking with. When you’re done speaking, you terminate the conversation by saying “out” (not “over and out”).

For some reason, Hollywood and radio scriptwriters thought it was neat to conclude radio conversations with “over and out,” but this would technically mean “You can talk now if you want, but I’m not going to be listening.”

Today “over and out” lives on mostly as an ill-remembered allusion to those old movies and shows in song lyrics and punning headlines. Radio communication buffs, however, cringe when they hear it.


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This week's entries feature selections from the revised and expanded third edition of Common Errors in English Usage—now available to order on the William, James & Company Web site. The cover price is $19, but enter the coupon code FIFTEEN to buy it for the introductory price of $15 through the end of this year.

Read about the new edition on the Common Errors blog.

If you are not ready for a change, you can still order the second edition at the discounted price of $12 (while supplies last).

As always, both editions come with free shipping within the US.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

expecially/especially: Common Errors in English Usage Entry for Wednesday, October 23, 2013

expecially/especially
A spelling checker will catch the common misspelling “expecially,” but there are also many people who mispronounce “especially” with the first syllable sounding like “ex-” even when they know that the correct spelling begins with “es-.”


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This week's entries feature selections from the revised and expanded third edition of Common Errors in English Usage—now available to order on the William, James & Company Web site. The cover price is $19, but enter the coupon code FIFTEEN to buy it for the introductory price of $15 through the end of this year.

Read about the new edition on the Common Errors blog.

If you are not ready for a change, you can still order the second edition at the discounted price of $12 (while supplies last).

As always, both editions come with free shipping within the US.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

ceremonial/ceremonious: Common Errors in English Usage Entry for Tuesday, October 22, 2013

ceremonial/ceremonious
“Ceremonial” and “ceremonious” are often considered synonyms, and can indeed be used interchangeably in many contexts. But there are some cases in which one is better than the other.
If you are talking about the performance of a ceremony, the word you will usually want is “ceremonial” as in “ceremonial offering,” “ceremonial garb,” or “ceremonial dance.” Sikhs traditionally wear ceremonial daggers.

“Ceremonious” is mostly used to describe formal behavior which often has little or no connection with a literal ceremony: “ceremonious manners,” “ceremonious welcome,” or “ceremonious speech.”

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This week's entries feature selections from the revised and expanded third edition of Common Errors in English Usage—now available to order on the William, James & Company Web site. The cover price is $19, but enter the coupon code FIFTEEN to buy it for the introductory price of $15 through the end of this year.

Read about the new edition on the Common Errors blog.

If you are not ready for a change, you can still order the second edition at the discounted price of $12 (while supplies last).

As always, both editions come with free shipping within the US.

Monday, October 21, 2013

shoulder on/soldier on: Common Errors in English Usage Entry for Monday, October 21, 2013

shoulder on/soldier on
Soldiers are expected to do their duty despite all obstacles, and that’s why we say that a person who perseveres soldiers on. But because “soldier” is rarely used as a verb in modern English, many people mix this expression up with a more common one involving pushing through crowds: to shoulder through. People shouldering are being pushy, usually in an obnoxious way. People who soldier on are admirably determined to carry on despite difficulties.

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This week's entries feature selections from the revised and expanded third edition of Common Errors in English Usage—now available to order on the William, James & Company Web site. The cover price is $19, but enter the coupon code FIFTEEN to buy it for the introductory price of $15 through the end of this year.

Read about the new edition on the Common Errors blog.

If you are not ready for a change, you can still order the second edition at the discounted price of $12 (while supplies last).

As always, both editions come with free shipping within the US.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

-ful/-fuls: Common Errors in English Usage Entry for Sunday, October 20, 2013

-ful/-fuls 
It’s one cupful, but two cupfuls, not “two cupsful.” The same goes for “spoonfuls” and “glassfuls.”

__________________
Read about the new edition of Common Errors in English Usage on the Common Errors blog.

If you are not ready for a change, you can still order the second edition at the discounted price of $12 (while supplies last).

Saturday, October 19, 2013

core/corps/corpse: Common Errors in English Usage Entry for Saturday, October 19, 2013

core/corps/corpse
Apples have cores. A corps is an organization, like the Peace Corps. A corpse is a dead body, a carcass.

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Read about the new edition of Common Errors in English Usage on the Common Errors blog.

If you are not ready for a change, you can still order the second edition at the discounted price of $12 (while supplies last).

Friday, October 18, 2013

pair/pare/pear: Common Errors in English Usage Entry for Friday, October 18, 2013

pair/pare/pear
When you peel an apple, you pare it. The resultant apple peelings are called “parings.” “Pare” is also used metaphorically in phrases having to do with removing portions of something, such as “pare down the budget” or “pare your wish list to the three most important items.” Many people overlook the meaning of this word and write instead “pair” or even “pear.” You can pair apples with pears in a dessert, but to peel them you have to pare them.

Although it’s not too surprising that cooks should mix up these spellings, it’s astounding how often medical and scientific writers refer to substances that are “pared” with each other. A couple of medicines or treatments are paired with each other.

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Read about the new edition of Common Errors in English Usage on the Common Errors blog.

If you are not ready for a change, you can still order the second edition at the discounted price of $12 (while supplies last).

Thursday, October 17, 2013

you better/you had better: Common Errors in English Usage Entry for Thursday, October 17, 2013

you better/you had better
In casual speech, it’s common to say things like “you better make your bed before Mom comes home.” But in writing and in formal speech, the expression is “you had better.” Slightly less formal but still fine is the contracted version: “you’d better.”


__________________
Read about the new edition of Common Errors in English Usage on the Common Errors blog.

If you are not ready for a change, you can still order the second edition at the discounted price of $12 (while supplies last).

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

make pretend/make believe: Common Errors in English Usage Entry for Wednesday, October 16, 2013

make pretend/make believe
When you pretend to do something in a game of fantasy, you make believe.

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Read about the new edition of Common Errors in English Usage on the Common Errors blog.

If you are not ready for a change, you can still order the second edition at the discounted price of $12 (while supplies last).

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

chaise longue: Common Errors in English Usage Entry for Tuesday, October 15, 2013

chaise longue
When English speakers want to be elegant they commonly resort to French, often mangling it in the process. The entrĂ©e, the dish served before the plat, usurped the latter’s position as main dish. And how in the world did French lingerie (originally meaning linen goods of all sorts, later narrowed to underwear only), pronounced—roughly—“LANZH-uh-ree,” come to be English “lawnzh-uh-ray”? Quelle horreur! Chaise longue (literally “long chair”), pronounced—roughly—“shezz lohng” with a hard G on the end, became in English “shayz long.” Many speakers, however, confuse French chaise with English “chase” and French longue with English “lounge” (understandable since the article in question is a sort of couch or lounge), resulting in the mispronunciation “chase lounge.” We may imagine the French as chasing each other around their lounges, but a chaise is just a chair.

__________________
Read about the new edition of Common Errors in English Usage on the Common Errors blog.

If you are not ready for a change, you can still order the second edition at the discounted price of $12 (while supplies last).

Monday, October 14, 2013

ect./etc.: Common Errors in English Usage Entry for Monday, October 14, 2013

ect./etc.
“Etc.” is an abbreviation for the Latin phrase et cetera, meaning “and others.” (Et means “and” in French too.) Just say “et cetera” out loud to yourself to remind yourself of the correct order of the T and C. Also to be avoided is the common mispronunciation “excetera.” “And etc.” is a redundancy.

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Read about the new edition of Common Errors in English Usage on the Common Errors blog.

If you are not ready for a change, you can still order the second edition at the discounted price of $12 (while supplies last).

Sunday, October 13, 2013

gig/jig: Common Errors in English Usage Entry for Sunday, October 13, 2013

gig/jig 
“The jig is up” is an old slang expression meaning “the game is over—we’re caught.” A musician’s job is a gig.

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If you are not ready for a change, you can still order the second edition at the discounted price of $12 (while supplies last).

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Friday, October 11, 2013

calm, cool, and collective/calm, cool, and collected: Common Errors in English Usage Entry for Friday, October 11, 2013

calm, cool, and collective/calm, cool, and collected
Unless you’re living in an unusually tranquil commune, you wouldn’t be “calm, cool, and collective.” The last word in this traditional phrase is “collected,” in the sense of such phrases as “let me sit down a minute and collect my thoughts.” If you leave out “cool” the last word still has to be “collected.”


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Read about the new edition of Common Errors in English Usage on the Common Errors blog.

If you are not ready for a change, you can still order the second edition at the discounted price of $12 (while supplies last).

Thursday, October 10, 2013

apiece/a piece: Common Errors in English Usage Entry for Thursday, October 10, 2013

apiece/a piece 
When you mean “each” the expression is “apiece”: these pizzas are really cheap—only ten dollars apiece.” But when “piece” actually refers to a piece of something, the required two-word expression is “a piece”: “This pizza is really expensive—they sell it by the slice for ten dollars a piece.”
Despite misspellings in popular music, the expression is not “down the road apiece”; it’s “down the road a piece.”

__________________
Read about the new edition of Common Errors in English Usage on the Common Errors blog.

If you are not ready for a change, you can still order the second edition at the discounted price of $12 (while supplies last).

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

born/borne: Common Errors in English Usage Entry for Wednesday, October 9, 2013

born/borne
This distinction is a bit tricky. When birth is being discussed, the past tense of “bear” is usually “born”: “I was born in a trailer—but it was an Airstream.” Note that the form used here is passive: you are the one somebody else—your mother—bore. But if the form is active, you need an E on the end, as in “Midnight has borne another litter of kittens in Dad’s old fishing hat” (Midnight did the bearing).

But in other meanings not having to do with birth, “borne” is always the past tense of “bear”: “My brother’s constant teasing about my green hair was more than could be borne.”


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Read about the new edition of Common Errors in English Usage on the Common Errors blog.

If you are not ready for a change, you can still order the second edition at the discounted price of $12 (while supplies last).

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

ones/one’s: Common Errors in English Usage Entry for Tuesday, October 8, 2013

ones/one’s
The possessive pronoun “one’s” requires an apostrophe before the S, unlike “its,” “hers,” and other personal pronouns. Examples: “pull oneself up by one’s own bootstraps,” “a jury of one’s peers,” “minding one’s own business.”

A simple test: try inserting “anyone’s” in place of ”one’s.” If it works grammatically, you need the apostrophe in “one’s” too. When “one’s” is a contraction of “one is” it also requires an apostrophe: “no one’s listening,” “this one’s for you.”

The only times “ones” has no apostrophe are when it is being used to mean “ examples” or “people” as in “ripe ones” or “loved ones,” or in the informal arithmetical expression “the ones column.”


__________________
Read about the new edition of Common Errors in English Usage on the Common Errors blog.

If you are not ready for a change, you can still order the second edition at the discounted price of $12 (while supplies last).

Monday, October 7, 2013

throws of passion/throes of passion: Common Errors in English Usage Entry for Monday, October 7, 2013

throws of passion/throes of passion 
A dying person’s final agony can be called their “death throes.” The only other common use for this word is “throes of passion.” “Throws” are wrestling moves or those little blankets you drape on the furniture.

__________________
Read about the new edition of Common Errors in English Usage on the Common Errors blog.

If you are not ready for a change, you can still order the second edition at the discounted price of $12 (while supplies last).

Sunday, October 6, 2013

sooner/rather: Common Errors in English Usage Entry for Sunday, October 6, 2013

sooner/rather
“I’d sooner starve than eat what they serve in the cafeteria” is less formal than “I’d rather starve.”

__________________
Read about the new edition of Common Errors in English Usage on the Common Errors blog.

If you are not ready for a change, you can still order the second edition at the discounted price of $12 (while supplies last).

Saturday, October 5, 2013

percipitation/precipitation: Common Errors in English Usage Entry for Saturday, October 5, 2013

percipitation/precipitation
Rain, snow, hail, etc. are all forms of precipitation. This word is often misspelled and mispronounced as “percipitation.”


__________________
Read about the new edition of Common Errors in English Usage on the Common Errors blog.

If you are not ready for a change, you can still order the second edition at the discounted price of $12 (while supplies last).

Friday, October 4, 2013

present writer/I: Common Errors in English Usage Entry for Friday, October 4, 2013

present writer/I
Formal writers used to avoid writing “I” when referring to themselves by using instead the phrase “the present writer.” This practice is generally discouraged by modern editors, and is considered awkward and old-fashioned. Simple “I” works fine and calls less attention to itself so long as it’s not repeated too often.


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This week's entries feature selections from the revised and expanded third edition of Common Errors in English Usage—now available for pre-order on the William, James & Company Web site. The cover price is $19, but enter the coupon code FIFTEEN to buy it for the introductory price of $15 through the end of this year.

Read about the new edition on the Common Errors blog.

If you are not ready for a change, you can still order the second edition at the discounted price of $12 (while supplies last).

Thursday, October 3, 2013

marinate on/meditate on: Common Errors in English Usage Entry for Thursday, October 3, 2013

marinate on/meditate on
To add flavor and moisture to meats or other raw ingredients, you can soak them for a while in a flavored liquid marinade (note that the word for the liquid is spelled with a D). You marinate it (note that the word for the action is spelled with a T). You would rarely have a legitimate reason to use the phrase “marinate on.” An example would be: “leave the chicken to marinate on the counter while you prepare the other ingredients.”

When you ponder a subject thoughtfully, you meditate on it. So many people are misusing “marinate” when they mean “meditate” that some have concluded that they are related words with overlapping meanings. They urge people to think carefully about a subject by telling them to “marinate and meditate” on it. Letting thoughts soak into your consciousness has nothing to do with marinades.



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This week's entries feature selections from the revised and expanded third edition of Common Errors in English Usage—now available for pre-order on the William, James & Company Web site. The cover price is $19, but enter the coupon code FIFTEEN to buy it for the introductory price of $15 through the end of this year.

Read about the new edition on the Common Errors blog.

If you are not ready for a change, you can still order the second edition at the discounted price of $12 (while supplies last).

As always, both editions come with free shipping within the US.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

any other number of/any number of other: Common Errors in English Usage Entry for Wednesday, October 2, 2013

any other number of/any number of other
When there are a lot of possible alternatives, we may say there are any number of them: “There are any number of other colors I would have preferred to this sickening lime green.”

This expression often gets scrambled into “any other number of.”




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This week's entries feature selections from the revised and expanded third edition of Common Errors in English Usage—now available for pre-order on the William, James & Company Web site. The cover price is $19, but enter the coupon code FIFTEEN to buy it for the introductory price of $15 through the end of this year.

Read about the new edition on the Common Errors blog.

If you are not ready for a change, you can still order the second edition at the discounted price of $12 (while supplies last).

As always, both editions come with free shipping within the US.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

surplus neckline/surplice neckline: Common Errors in English Usage Entry for Tuesday, October 1, 2013

surplus neckline/surplice neckline
Medieval priests in chilly Northern European churches wore an extra-large cassock over a fur-lined gown. This garment came to be known as a surplice (from Latin super pelliceum: “over fur”).

Even those few who might have heard of the priestly garment are not likely to make the connection when discussing the surplice neckline on women’s clothing because the secular women’s garment has an overlapping V-neck whereas most surplices worn in churches today have square or rounded necklines.

So it’s not surprising that a large number of people mistakenly refer to the women’s garment style as a “surplus neckline.” The only surplus involved in these items is the amount of flesh revealed by them.



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This week's entries feature selections from the revised and expanded third edition of Common Errors in English Usage—now available for pre-order on the William, James & Company Web site. The cover price is $19, but enter the coupon code FIFTEEN to buy it for the introductory price of $15 through the end of this year.

Read about the new edition on the Common Errors blog.

If you are not ready for a change, you can still order the second edition at the discounted price of $12 (while supplies last).

As always, both editions come with free shipping within the US.