October 27, 2012
confusion, deserts, desserts, English, grammar, grisly, grizzled, grizzly, homophones, incredible, incredulous, jerry-built, jury-rigged, language, misuse
Here are a few more to contemplate:
1. Desert, Deserts and Desserts: Every time I see it written that someone “got his just desserts” I visualize coconut cream pies being thrown. Meanwhile, when folks refer to the after-dinner pastry or other sweet treat, using only one “s” in the middle, my mouth gets very dry. Here’s the difference:
(a) A desert (de-sert) is a place with hot sun and little rain; camels or other fauna with hardy constitutions may inhabit it, or you may remember it from the old Road Runner cartoons.
(b) Your just deserts (de-serts) are what you deserve (good or bad).
(c) When it’s time for dessert (de-sert), you get to sample those pies, cakes, candies, etc. (My favorite was always cherry pie, with a cream cheese topping, which my Mom used to make for my birthday “cake” … but I may not taste that again in this life.)
2. Disinterested vs. Uninterested: This one should be simple to remember: If you really don’t care (or the topic just bores you), you’re “uninterested” in it. However, if you have no stake (personal or financial) in the outcome, you could serve as a “disinterested observer,” or even as a fair-witness (extra points if you can name the source of that concept!) impartial arbitrator of the situation, since you are considered impartial or neutral.
October 17, 2012
breach, breech, compel, confusion, English, figuratively, grammar, homophones, impel, infectious, language, literally, misuse
I owe this one to another website (Taylor Houston’s “10 Words You Literally Didn’t Know You Were Getting Wrong”), but since I’ve already addressed about half of the issues they raised it seems okay to cite the others, with proper attribution.
1. Assent vs. Consent: Both of these are verbs, signifying agreement. When you “assent” to something, though, you do so with positive enthusiasm, whereas “consenting” can be neutral or even reluctant. (Another confusion is between “assent” (agree to eagerly) and “ascent” (climb, as in a mountain).
2. Breach vs. Breech: As a noun, a “breach” is a gap of some kind, either geographical (“once more into the breach, lads!”) or legal (a breach of contract). As a verb, it means “to break open or through” (as in “breaching a fortification”). Meanwhile, “breech” is a specific word defining the part of the back of a body (generally human) located between the legs and the back; that is to say, the butt or ass! (Thus, breeches, often pronounced as “britches,” are the things that cover that ass.) The only time it tends to be used nowadays is in describing a birth (human or other animal) in which the critter is coming out ass-first, and must be turned around in the birth canal. Any more questions?
October 5, 2012
cite, confusion, English, grammar, homophones, language, misuse, sight, site
Ok, I can see this is going to go a lot slower than I thought, so I’ll now try to do at least something each week. Here’s today’s teaser:
site vs. sight (vs. cite):
First, the difference among the two words (and among the three of ‘em):
site (noun):Location or position. (you could also consider it as a “situation” to remember the “s” beginning).
sight (noun): Vision (view or scene); appearance (look, spectacle, display, visibility). Has to do with what you see, not where it is.
cite (verb): To quote, mention, reference, illustrate, arraign, or summon . . . (Think of it as a “citation” which always has the “c” as the starter.)
The reason this came up is that I saw this one written very recently: “site unseen” . . .