Wednesday, February 25, 2015

dew/do/doo/due: Common Errors in English Usage Entry for Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The original pronunciation of “dew” and “due” rhymed with “pew,” but American pronunciation has shifted toward pronouncing all of these words alike, and the result is much confusion in standard phrases. On a damp morning there is dew on the grass. Doo on the grass is the result of failing to pick up after your dog. The most common confusion is substituting “do” for “due” (owing) in phrases like “credit is due,” “due to circumstances,” and “bill is due.”

“Do” is normally a verb, but it can be a noun with meanings like “party,” “hairdo,” and “dos and don’ts.” Note that in the last phrase it is not necessary to insert an apostrophe before the S, and that if you choose to do so you’ll wind up with two apostrophes awkwardly close together: “don’t’s.”

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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