Showing posts with label words. Show all posts
Showing posts with label words. Show all posts

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Commonly Misused Words



“The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.” ― Mark Twain.

Words can have more than one basic meaning and some words sound similar but have a completely different denotation. For example:
(Wrong) Older people often suffer infirmaries.
(Right) Older people often suffer infirmities.

Some words are homonyms (sound-alikes) but mean very different things. For example, principal/principle or rain/reign/rein.

Then there are words with similar but distinct meanings.
            (Wrong) Television commercials continuously (unceasingly) interrupt programming.
(Right) Television commercials continually (regularly) interrupt programming.

Which vs That. Which is used to introduce non-restrictive clauses (extra but not essential information) such as in The leftover lettuce, which is in the refrigerator, would make a good salad. Which needs a comma preceding.
That always introduces restrictive clauses: We should use the lettuce that Susan bought. (This limits the lettuce to a specific lettuce.) That  does not need a comma.

And some words have related meaning (denotation) but different connotations:
·         Pride—sense of self-worth
·         Vanity: excessive regard for oneself

·         Firm: steady, unchanging, unyielding
·         Stubborn: unreasonable, bullheaded

·         Enthusiasm: excitement
·         Mania: excessive interest or desire

“For one word a man is often deemed to be wise, and for one word he is often deemed to be foolish. We should indeed be careful what we say.” — Confucius.

What words have you run across that are interchanged in the wrong way?


----------------------------
A native Montanan, Heidi M. Thomas now lives in North-central Arizona.
Her first novel, Cowgirl Dreams, is based on her grandmother, the sequel, Follow the Dream,  won the national WILLA Award, and Dare to Dream rounds out the trilogy. In addition a non-fiction book, Cowgirl Up! A History of Rodeo Women has just been released. Heidi has a degree in journalism, a certificate in fiction writing, and is a member of the Independent Editors Guild. She teaches writing, edits, and blogs. 


Monday, December 8, 2014

Those Pesky Extras

(This post originally ran Feb, 8, 2012)

I recently learned a new term: Pleonasm. Is it a murder suspect? A graffiti artist? A practical joker?

Turns out, it’s nothing quite so mysterious. A pleonasm is a word or phrase, which can be removed from a sentence without changing its meaning. For example, John walked to the chair and sat down. “Down” is a pleonasm and can be removed without changing the meaning of the sentence.

Although I was not familiar with the term, I did know them when I saw them. In fact, part of my editing advice revolves around deleting extraneous words. Words such as “that,” “very,” “both,” and “there was.” Others might include “began,” “started,” or “continued.”

Here’s another phrase that nearly everyone is guilty of: “The sky held a myriad of stars.” Myriad means “countless.” So the correct use is “The sky held myriad stars.” (Simply substitute the word countless for myriad.) That eliminates two extraneous words.

And then there is the word “unique.” We are inundated with varying degrees of “uniqueness” every day: “That was a rather unique movie.” “Your story is very unique.” What’s next—uniquely unique? Unique means “the only one of its kind.” Unique is unique. It doesn’t need any modifiers

I also caution to watch use of “ly” words. These words are often used to prop up weak verbs. For example: “She walked quickly” can be stronger if written “She strode” (or bounded or rushed). Likewise with the “to be” verbs (was, were, had been, etc.) especially when used with an “ing” verb. “She was walking” is better as “She walked.”

Some authors like to use taglines (he said, she said) plus an action: “…she said, taking a sip of coffee.” The simple action is sufficient: “She took a sip of coffee.”
You also don’t need to describe two actions at once: She nodded and smiled. He puffed himself up and took a swig...

A writer friend of mine is looking at every sentence in her manuscript and challenging herself to remove at least one word from each. She has cut 14,000 words from a 400-page manuscript.

I challenge you to go one step farther: see if you can delete an entire phrase from a sentence, an entire sentence from a paragraph, a paragraph from a scene.
Hunt down and exterminate those “Pesky Pleonasms.”
----------------------------
A native Montanan, Heidi M. Thomas now lives in North-central Arizona.
Her first novel, Cowgirl Dreams, is based on her grandmother, the sequel, Follow the Dream,  won the national WILLA Award, and Dare to Dream rounds out the trilogy. In addition a non-fiction book, Cowgirl Up! A History of Rodeo Women has just been released. Heidi has a degree in journalism, a certificate in fiction writing, and is a member of the Independent Editors Guild. She teaches writing, edits, and blogs. 




Sunday, July 6, 2014

How to Improve Your Strength, Determination, and Endurance

Image Copyright © 2014 Joan Y. Edwards
"How to Improve Your Strength, Determination, and Endurance?" by Joan Y. Edwards

When I taught at Hemby Bridge Elementary School in 1988, a teacher shared with me Bjorn Secher's handout about your attention and how it was the key to your success. This was one of the many helpful statements on that handout. 

Bjorn Secher said, "The secret to your strength, determination, and endurance is your attention."
Copyright © 1988 BSAS  Bjorn Secher Achievement Systems.

To improve your strength, determination, and endurance, control your attention. Ask yourself or your characters these questions.
  • What gives you strength?
  • What makes you more determined than ever to keep on going?
  • What gives you so much encouragement that 50 obstacles do not stop you. Each obstacle seems to make you even more determined not to give up?
  • What keeps you alive and helps you endure when others in your same shoes bit the dust years ago?
Not everyone's answers are the same.

My mother, Ethel Darnell Bruffey Meyer, said many witty things. Here is one thing she used to say: "If all the women in the world liked my Johnny, there would be a lot of hairless women running around."

What sparks a woman to say something like that? Love, jealousy, confidence, and determination plus physical, mental, and emotional strength.

  • Physical strength comes from using your body in exercise or in work using your muscles.
  • Mental strength comes from using your brain to think. 
  • Emotional strength for endurance comes from self-confidence, love, and support of others and successful experiences and accomplishments.

I believe that God is the source of all energy. Energy comes from the sun, from an electrical power plant, and from every cell in your body.

You become what you give your attention to - attention is thoughts, words, and actions.
 
Where do you focus your thoughts? On your bad experiences or on your good experiences? Choose to focus on what you want as if it is already true now beecause what you focus on will become your reality.

Where do you focus your words? What kind of words come from your mouth? Pay close attention to the words you speak. They are powerful. They speak your present and your future. They let you know your emotional interpretation of people and events.

Where to you focus your actions

Joel Osteen said, "Do what you can and God will do what you can't." 

If the key to reaching your goals is down the street three miles, you might not get it unless you walk, ride, or fly there. Take the action that bubbles up from your heart, your "gut" feeling. Your belief in yourself and your goal will give you physical, mental, and emotional strength to "git her done" as Larry the Cable Guy would say.

Just keep on going, even though your humanity takes you on a few detours along the way, revamp your focus, run a video in your mind of you crossing that three-mile marker to find the key to your goal.

Please leave a comment. It makes me smile to hear from you. Good luck in reaching your goals.

Celebrate you.
Never Give Up
Joan Y. Edwards
Copyright © 2014 Joan Y. Edwards


Flip Flap Floodle, delightful picture book that teaches children to believe in themselves and Never Give Up - even mean ole Mr. Fox can't stop this little duck.


Joan’s Elder Care Guide, Release December 2014 by 4RV Publishing

Joan's Never Give Up Blog

**********************************************

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Snuck Sneaked In

How did the word “snuck” sneak into the dictionary and into our “approved” form of language?

This word is one of my pet peeves, and if you are an editing client of mine, I will strongly suggest that you use the “proper” form “sneaked” unless it’s in dialogue.

I think my reaction stems from growing up in an isolated rural area where most people were not highly educated (no denigration intended—they were wonderful friends and neighbors and would do anything to help each other in times of need.

But a word like “snuck” that was used as slang by people who also said, “The kids had their pitcher took at school today,” is an indication of that same lack of education or care about proper English.

It’s like “ain’t.” That’s in the dictionary too, but it’s still not “proper” to use, except in slang dialogue.

According to wiktionary.org, “snuck” is an irregular verb form that originated in the late 19th century dialect, but is now listed as the “simple past tense and past participle of sneak.” Merriam-Webster’s Etymology: akin to Old English snIcan to sneak along, Old Norse snIkja.

Here’s a link to an interesting article on “Sentence First: An Irishman’s Blog About the English Language"

And this is a snippet from The Word Detective’s Q&A, who seems to agree with me:
“Yes, ‘snuck’ is a real word, although it has always been classified as ‘substandard English.’ ‘Snuck’ first appeared in the 19th century as a regional variant of ‘sneaked,’ and is still considered colloquial English, but is apparently gaining in respectability among literate folk. Still, ‘snuck’ is not the sort of word to use on your resume, although ‘sneaked’ is usually not a big hit on resumes either, come to think of it. In general, however, my advice is to stick with ‘sneaked.’ Unless you're talking to Elvis, of course. I happen to know he says ‘snuck’."

What are some of your “pet peeve” words that have sneaked into the English Language?

--------------------




A native Montanan, Heidi M. Thomas now lives in North-central Arizona. Her first novel, Cowgirl Dreams, is based on her grandmother, and the sequel, Follow the Dream, won the national WILLA Award. Heidi has a degree in journalism, a certificate in fiction writing, and is a member of Northwest Independent Editors Guild. She teaches writing and edits, blogs, and is working on the next books in her “Dare to Dream” series.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Fun Words to Think About

Here is a list of some important and interesting words for writers to think about, know and use. Have fun! 

ACTION: Action and plot grow out of compelling, interesting characters. Suspense, action, and conflict are what keep the reader interested. Action is presenting the real life evidence through characters, by showing, not telling the story.

BEATS: Beats can be the little bits of action interspersed through a scene, especially in dialogue. For example: “I don’t even want to go there,” I said. He laid a hand on my arm. “You want me to drive?”

CONSONANCE: Is the close repetition of the same consonants of stressed syllables, especially at the end of words, with differing vowel sounds. Example: Boat and Night.

DISSONANCE: Is a mingling or union of harsh, inharmonious sounds that are grating to the ear. Often used to create a disturbing or tumultuous atmosphere or confusion or bewilderment in poetry.

 EUPHONY: Is the harmony or beauty of a sound that provides a pleasing effect to the ear. It is achieved not only by the selection of individual word sounds, but also by their relationship in the repetition, proximity, and flow of sound patterns.

FLASHBACK: A window to your character’s past. A flashback gives you a way to “show” your character’s past through a scene without “telling” the story through narration. Be very careful in using these so it doesn’t “bump” the reader out of the action & story flow while you are explaining what happened sometime in the past. It can be passive. Keep it very brief and try to use a sense to trigger the memory, e.g. a smell or a sound, etc.

HOMOPHONE: Is a word that has the same in sound as another word, but different spelling and meaning. (For example: Pair as in set of two, and pear as in edible fruit.)

 METAPHOR: An analogy between two objects or ideas when you say one item IS another. For example: “Then it was there alongside, the locomotive a sudden tornado, black, huge, screaming…” A SIMILE is saying something is LIKE another: “The bird’s wings were blue as the sky.”

ONOMATOPOEIA: Words that imitate sounds, or any word whose sound is suggestive of its meaning. Using words like a musical instrument to create a specific sound. For example: the words “Splash” or “Plop.”

PARADOX: Is a statement that contains seemingly contradictory elements or appears contradictory to common sense, yet can be true when viewed from another angle. A good character trait to experiment with.

STORY LINE: The plot of a book, film, or dramatic work.

THEME: An idea, point of view, or perception expressed as a phrase, proposition, or question. The root or core of what is expressed. VISION: A mental image produced by imagination. How someone sees or conceives of something. Discernment or perception; intelligent foresight. The mystical experience of seeing as if with the eyes of characters within your writing.

Do you have any favorites to add to this list?

-------------------------
A native Montanan, Heidi M. Thomas now lives in Northwest Washington. Her first novel, Cowgirl Dreams, is based on her grandmother, and the sequel, Follow the Dream, has recently won the national WILLA Award. Heidi has a degree in journalism, a certificate in fiction writing, and is a member of Northwest Independent Editors Guild. She teaches writing and edits, blogs, and is working on the next books in her “Dare to Dream” series.     

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Compliment Vs. Complement

There is no one as bad as I am about getting words mixed up. Lie vs. lay is one of my biggest errors. I don't know why but it is. The point is I really have no room to criticize others, but there is still two words that really bug me when I see them misused, and I have been seeing it more and more. Those words are compliment and complement.

They have been misused in books, journals, sales flyers that stores put in the newspapers, and I've seen it on billboards. Being one of those crazy people who actually owns a dictionary, I looked up both words to find the following definitions:

Compliment--An action showing praise and respect.

Complement--That which serves to complete; the full number required.

Our readers expect writers to know what they are doing, and that applies to not only our writing but our spelling and grammar. So we must be aware of our spelling and meaning of words along with all the other aspects of writing.

Faye M. Tollison
Author of: To Tell the Truth
Upcoming books:  The Bible Murders
                             Sarah's Secret
Member of: Sisters In Crime
                   Writers on the Move
www.fayemtollison.com
www.fayetollison.com
www.fmtoll.wordpress.com
www.booksinsync.com

The Benefits of Working with a Writing Coach

Suzanne Lieurance It’s no secret that top athletes in any professional sport work with a personal coach at one time or another during their ...