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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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lish1936
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Re: Jan's New Writing Lessons -- COMMONLY MISUSED WORDS

Postby lish1936 » Mon Sep 09, 2013 9:11 pm

Yes, that makes sense. I also made note of the "st" ending which for me, anyway, lends a clue - but that could be coincidental.

Thanks,

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 amilli » Wed Sep 11, 2013 5:31 pm

glorybee wrote: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.)



Points well taken, thanks much. I must try that bit at the family table :lol:
Amelia

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

Postby rider » Thu Apr 03, 2014 6:44 am

Hi Jan,
I have not been able to spend much time on your writing lessons, and now that I have the time I have been poring over as many as I can. They are so useful. Thanks for making this available. I have even been able to use some of your suggestions in this reply.
This lesson on commonly misused words corrected a few mistakes of mine.
However, I would question you with regard to the word 'decimate', I Googled it and it seems that it can mean 'to substantially destroy' as well as 'to eliminate a tenth' or ' to tithe'. To restrict it to 'eliminating a tenth' may be an example of what some call the 'etymological fallacy' - that contemporary meanings are governed by the root of a word. One hears preachers employ this fallacy in sermons all the time, unfortunately.
Kon

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

Postby Shann » Thu Apr 03, 2014 1:17 pm

Both the words decimate and tithe were used incorrectly for so long that it changed the meanings in the dictionaries. At most churches I've been to, when they collect money it's called tithes and offerings because in the official books they are distinctly two different things.

Mine was nauseous. Technically it means to make someone feel sick and along with decimate and tithe is on the most often misused list. If you say you're nauseous, you're actually saying you make others sick. But if you have an upset stomach you should say you're nauseated.

I worry with words being accepted because so many people misuse them. Where do we draw the line? My pet peeve is using words me and I.

For example many people say : This present is from Emily and I. It makes me want to scream and I hear it at least once a week if not more. I think it stems from the 1970s (note no apostrophe, adding one is another common mistake) teachers corrected kids from saying Me and Emily are going to the store. Because of that, people started over compensating. So please help me not let this become accepted like the others. Take out the and Emily and you will see it doesn't sound right: This present is from I. Me is going to store.
Hopefully, they both make you cringe and you will think of it when writing and say Emily and I are going, and this present is from Emily and me. :mrgreen:

Rant is officially over. :D
Shann

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

Postby glorybee » Thu Apr 03, 2014 1:46 pm

Language is a fluid thing, and for this we should be very grateful. I've definitely yielded on "decimate," Kon, for the very reason that you stated. I'm not nearly so pedantic about language as many people think that I am, and I'm very willing to concede that popular usage very frequently changes the original definitions of words--and that's a good thing. (Incidentally, Shann, that's why nauseous/nauseated doesn't bother me at all. There are better words to use than "nauseous" when you want to describe something sickening, and everyone understands it perfectly well when it's used to mean "nauseated.") A quick check of a few online dictionaries bears this out: the accepted meaning of "nauseous" (like that of "decimate") has changed.

I love our beautiful language, and it's lovely way of accommodating new meanings and usages. I've been studying Spanish--another beautiful language--for the past few months, and it has definitely increased my appreciation of English!
Jan Ackerson

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

Postby Shann » Thu Apr 03, 2014 4:17 pm

As long as they don't change me/I rules I can live with it...I think :mrgreen:

The Spanish I remember from four years of high school is
Besame yo hablo Espanol. (I don't know how to make the symbols for certain Spanish letters on my tablet.) And
Hay mucho animales en el rancho. :mrgreen:
Shann

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

Postby trudynewell » Fri Apr 04, 2014 9:11 pm

Wow! I've been recovery from surgery and other things (not sure what) - so have been away from Faith Writers for over a month. When I checked it out today - what a goldmine of information.

I, too, was always puzzled about blond and blonde. These lessons have helped tremendously. My way of handling things if I wasn't sure about word usage, was to go for another word even if it didn't "fit." This has encouraged me to dig deeper into the craft of words.

Thanks for all your time on this! Trudy

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