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Jan's New Writing Lessons -- COMMONLY MISUSED WORDS

These lessons, by one of our most consistent FaithWriters' Challenge Champions, should not be missed. So we're making a permanent home for them here.

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Re: Jan's New Writing Lessons -- COMMONLY MISUSED WORDS

Postby glorybee » Fri Aug 16, 2013 9:15 am

Rachel, well done with the discreet/discrete sentences.

And please don't be worried! You're doing the right thing by taking the time to educate yourself, and it's apparent that you're a good writer. In the long run, it won't matter if you've misused 'decimate' in a piece of writing that's otherwise excellent. People will overlook a tiny error in good writing--and besides, that's what editors are for!
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Re: Jan's New Writing Lessons -- COMMONLY MISUSED WORDS

Postby RachelM » Fri Aug 16, 2013 11:00 am

Thank you for the encouragement, Jan! This site and the people on it are blessing me every day.
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Re: Jan's New Writing Lessons -- COMMONLY MISUSED WORDS

Postby lish1936 » Fri Aug 16, 2013 11:55 am

Rachel wrote:Her dress, which cascaded to the floor, was elegant and discreet.

glorybee wrote:Rachel, well done with the discreet/discrete sentences.


Image
Jan, I hope this doesn't qualify as a dumb question. :-)

Can inanimate objects be discreet? I thought the word implied an element of purposeful restraint -the result of an actual mental process/ pre-determination. Or does the sentence implies the person wearing the dress was discreet in choosing it. :?

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I love to write. Nothing escapes the crush I have on the written word. I'm hooked on words!!

"Let words bewitch you. Scrutinze them, mull them, savor them, and in combination, until you see their subtle differences and the ways they tint each other." Francis Flaherty

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Re: Jan's New Writing Lessons -- COMMONLY MISUSED WORDS

Postby glorybee » Fri Aug 16, 2013 12:02 pm

One of the meanings of 'discreet' is 'modest, not ostentatious,' so I think that fits the sentence about the dress quite well.
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Re: Jan's New Writing Lessons -- COMMONLY MISUSED WORDS

Postby Shann » Sat Aug 17, 2013 1:57 am

I just posted this on FB and then realized it would be a perfect fit for Jan's assignment.

Oh, the horror! I was just writing a quick email when the spell-check corrected a lot to alot! What on earth is happening? Do the people who program these things have any idea about grammar? Oh, I must give up and go to bed before it tells me to change: She went to the store for Emily and me to Emily and I.

I don't think my heart could endure that one! I feel nauseated (note I didn't say nauseous) The English language is being decimated (about 10 % of it is now correct even though it should be incorrect) Maybe, I'll find someone who may be an expert and fix the spell check. (Note the difference between maybe and may be!) This is making me quite anxious to see what the world is coming to. I'm eager to see if this post will make a difference.

How'd I do; other than the obvious too many exclamation points? Since it was on FB, I tend to write more like I would talk and when I talk I use a lot of exclamations! :mrgreen:

Again I want to thank you for coming back to the thread. You really do make a difference here. I'm honored to learn so many things from you. :bow Can I talk you into working for the spellcheck people? (So is spellcheck one word, two, or hyphenated?)

I looked it up and the dictionary says hyphenated, but the spell check says one word. Good grief. Now I've used all three variants and broken my be consistent rule.
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Re: Jan's New Writing Lessons -- COMMONLY MISUSED WORDS

Postby glorybee » Sat Aug 17, 2013 7:44 am

That was really cute, Shann!
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Re: Jan's New Writing Lessons -- COMMONLY MISUSED WORDS

Postby Shann » Sun Aug 18, 2013 4:43 pm

lish1936 wrote:Image
Jan, I hope this doesn't qualify as a dumb question. :-)

Lillian

You do know that there aren't ever any dumb questions, right Lillian? Even if every person in the world understands it but you, that doesn't make it dumb. Only when you allow people to intimidate you to not ask is, well, not dumb, but not the right thing to do. Besides, (oohh there's one beside and besides Beside is a preposition meaning next to while besides is a preposition meaning in addition to. Also, I believe it's one of those words that has overlap and can be a difference in UK and US spelling, much like toward and towards) I am almost certain that several people are heaving sighs of relief that you asked that question. :mrgreen:
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Re: Jan's New Writing Lessons -- COMMONLY MISUSED WORDS

Postby lish1936 » Sun Aug 18, 2013 7:54 pm

:hugs2 Bless you Shann for covering my shame.

I hope you're right that out there somewhere, someone was saying, "Yeah, I thought the same thing." :D

Lillian
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I love to write. Nothing escapes the crush I have on the written word. I'm hooked on words!!

"Let words bewitch you. Scrutinze them, mull them, savor them, and in combination, until you see their subtle differences and the ways they tint each other." Francis Flaherty

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Re: Jan's New Writing Lessons -- COMMONLY MISUSED WORDS

Postby Shann » Thu Aug 29, 2013 12:15 pm

I have to tell you what I've learned this past week or so. When I read your definitions of anxious and eager, I nodded in agreement and felt confident that I knew the definitions and used them properly. But I can't tell you how many times I've started to write anxious and stopped and rethought it and changed it to the proper term eager. Even though I know the difference between the two, I never was aware that I had somehow merged them together. I really appreciate the time and energy it takes you to do this. It has made me a better writer and editor in such a short time. We never stop learning (if we are wise, that is) and I appreciate the fact that now when I use the words eager or anxious I stop and think about you and your lesson. I also stop and say a prayer for you too. I figure God nudges me to think of you, so at that time you just might need a prayer and it's God's way of having me stop and pray. :thankssign
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Re: Jan's New Writing Lessons -- COMMONLY MISUSED WORDS

Postby amilli » Sun Sep 08, 2013 3:11 pm

Wow, the most amazing discovery for me was the difference in word usage base on gender: Blonde & Fiancee. I know the meaning of Myriad but always believe it look so wrong when used the way you used it. Hence, I always seem to be adding 'a' before or 'of' after! Now am confident.

But what happens when one word has two different meanings like enormity (also means greatness of size, scope, influence or immensity) or decimate (to destroy a great number or proportion of) and you wish to use the least common meaning? By the way, these definition are from the dictionary.

Also could you please do a class on the use of single versus double quotations (Eg: "boys"/ 'boys'), which brings me to another misused set of words. Verses/versus!
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Re: Jan's New Writing Lessons -- COMMONLY MISUSED WORDS

Postby glorybee » Sun Sep 08, 2013 4:00 pm

Amilli, tomorrow's lesson will be on the punctuation of dialogue, but I didn't include double and single quotation marks. Maybe you'll add your insight about those in the comments of that lesson.

As far as using words for which the meanings have changed or are changing (like decimate and enormity)--I always advise people not to be snobbish or pedantic about it. If you are writing a scholarly paper or an essay for which the audience is likely to be people with a high degree of education, use the words with their most appropriate meaning. In everyday speech or casual writing, feel free to relax the rules a bit. You can always astound people around the lunch table or at the next family get-together when you tell them, "By the way, did you know that 'enormity' means 'great evil'?"

(And notice how I used the single and double quotes there. Double quotes for the words actually spoken, single quotes for the quote within the quote. I think it's done exactly the opposite way in the UK.)
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Re: Jan's New Writing Lessons -- COMMONLY MISUSED WORDS

Postby lish1936 » Sun Sep 08, 2013 7:32 pm

I was writing an e-mail yesterday, and had to make a decision between using worse and worst. The sentence included the phrase: ..."bring out the best in us, not the worst."

I think I used the right word. If Jan is still accessing this thread, please give me a star, Jan, for "correct," and let me know why - or should I have used "worse."

I'll also take a Yes or No and why from anyone in the know. :D

Lillian
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I write even when I think I can't, because I must. :-)

I love to write. Nothing escapes the crush I have on the written word. I'm hooked on words!!

"Let words bewitch you. Scrutinze them, mull them, savor them, and in combination, until you see their subtle differences and the ways they tint each other." Francis Flaherty

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Re: Jan's New Writing Lessons -- COMMONLY MISUSED WORDS

Postby glorybee » Sun Sep 08, 2013 7:38 pm

Lillian, you were correct.
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Re: Jan's New Writing Lessons -- COMMONLY MISUSED WORDS

Postby lish1936 » Mon Sep 09, 2013 8:20 pm

Lillian, you were correct.


Thanks, Jan. Are there any rules that would make it easier to remember?

Lillian
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I write even when I think I can't, because I must. :-)

I love to write. Nothing escapes the crush I have on the written word. I'm hooked on words!!

"Let words bewitch you. Scrutinze them, mull them, savor them, and in combination, until you see their subtle differences and the ways they tint each other." Francis Flaherty

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Re: Jan's New Writing Lessons -- COMMONLY MISUSED WORDS

Postby glorybee » Mon Sep 09, 2013 8:42 pm

Hmmm. I'm not sure about that. "Worse" and "worst" are adjectives that compare--you might consider putting them in their places on a chart like this:


ADJECTIVE COMPARATIVE SUPERLATIVE

fine finer finest
sweet sweeter sweetest
bad worse worst

Bad/worse/worst isn't as regular as some adjectives, as you can see from the chart, but this might help you put it in perspective. In your phrase "...bring out the best in us..." you were using the superlative form of 'good,' so you needed the same form of 'bad' in your sentence.

Gosh, I hope that made sense. It's been a hectic two weeks, and I'm still not caught up on my rest.

EDIT--That little chart lost all its spacing when I hit submit. I'm too addled to figure out how to space it, so if someone wants to tell me how to get three nice columns, that would be dandy.
Jan Ackerson

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