t’s time for “Confusing Words of the Week” where I take a set of two or three words that get confused and give you definitions and try to give you a memory trick to help you remember when to use which word. If you have words that confuse you, use the Ask PTB tab on the website or send an email to email@example.com and they may appear here soon!
This week’s words are:
“Compliment” – an expression of praise, commendation, or admiration
- “She paid me an enormous compliment on my dress.”
“Complement” is something that completes or makes perfect
- “A good wine is a complement to a good meal.”
A complIment is something I like to hear.
A COMPLEment COMPLEtes something.
This was in an email I received. Because I live near Phoenix and work there, I noticed this right away. I also noticed that it is right in four other places and wrong in the very first line.
My brother sent me this one. I loved this drive in theater and spent many a date night there . . . but enough about that. There were so many errors in these two sentences. Here are my edits to it:
- “Opened” should not be capitalized. There is a comma right ahead of it, so I’m assuming it is a continuation of the same sentence and part of a series.
- Naming a decade is done as “the 1940s,” “the forties,” or the “the ’40s.”
- “It’s” means “it is.”
- “Til” I’m assuming is some kind of abbreviation for “until,” although it isn’t correct unless it begins with an apostrophe indicating that “un” is missing–’til.
Today I’m spending time with my family, but I wanted to take a minute to let you all know that again this year, I am extremely grateful for you–the Proof That reader. Thank you for continuing to read the blog and especially thank you to those of you who send me Grammar Giggles, tell me that you learned something, or take the time to seek me out if you see me in person to let me know that you read the blog. Happy Thanksgiving!
It’s time for “Confusing Words of the Week” where I take a set of two or three words that get confused and give you definitions and try to give you a memory trick to help you remember when to use which word. If you have words that confuse you, use the Ask PTB tab on the website or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and they may appear here soon!
Rifle – to ransack and steal
- They rifled through the dresser drawers looking for valuables.
Riffle – to flip through
- I don’t like to riffle a magazine, I read it page by page.
I would probably think of “riffle” with multiple “f” as the sound a magazine or book makes when your flip the pages–the same sound over and over (we’ll use the “f” sound).
Rifle I would associate with criminals using guns, so criminals are the ones who would be ransacking and stealing.
My daughter sent this one to me. My neighbors may think they live in “close profanity” to me, but I’m pretty sure they meant to say “close proximity.”
A friend sent this one to me. It sounds like the word that should be there, but really it isn’t even close.
It’s time for a review of recent blog posts just in case you’ve missed them. We call this Replay Thursday. Here are posts from Proof That proofreading blog during the past week.
Grammar Giggle – Discriminiation
Grammar Giggle – Sex Clams
Confusing Words of the Week
Here are a few things that I’ve come across lately and thought you might find interesting:
- Publically or Publicly? I changed the spelling of “publically” in a document recently and was told that it was a correct alternative spelling and to leave it that way. So I’ve researched it a little bit. It appears “publically” is gaining in popularity, but the majority still favors “publicly” as the correct spelling.
- Preventive or Preventative? According to Dictionary.com, the definitions are:
A. Medicine/Medical. Of or noting a drug, vaccine, etc., for preventing disease; prophylactic.
B. serving to prevent or hinder: preventive measures.
Preventative (actually refers you back to Preventive):
A. Medicine/Medical. of or noting a drug, vaccine, etc., for preventing disease; prophylactic.
B. serving to prevent or hinder: preventive measures.
Yep, they are the same. “Preventive” has been used in writings much longer, but “preventative” is gaining ground. “Preventative” is used more frequently outside the United States, while “preventive” is used more here in the U.S., so either is correct.
- Various different. I saw this recently in something I was proofreading. Unfortunately, both words mean the same thing. Again, according to Dictionary.com, “various” means: “of different kinds, as two or more things; differing one from another” while one of the definitions of “different” is: “various; several.” So in this case, pick one. Use either “various” or “different,” but not both of them together.
- Coming down the pipe or pike? This question was raised to me recently. It looks like “coming down the pike” is the original idiom from back when the “pike” was shortened from “turnpike.” However, “coming down the pipe” is gaining in popularity, because lots of things come down a pipe. Since “turnpikes” have fallen out of common language in favor of “freeway,” more people understand “pipe.” So the more common version in today’s lingo is “coming down the pipe.”
- Postliminary. I had this word come up in something I was proofreading recently. Since I hadn’t heard that word before, I looked it up. Merriam-Webster defines it as: done or carried on after something else or as a conclusion; subsequent —opposed to preliminary. While I’m not sure it is a great replacement for “after,” I kind of like it. So you will have preliminary, main, and postliminary.
- Thank-you. I’ve seen this word hyphenated before and just thought, without a doubt, that it was wrong. Someone told me recently it is correct. Apparently, it IS correct. Merriam-Webster online defines “thank-you” as “a polite expression of one’s gratitude.” Grammar Girl even says “thank-you” can be used as a noun or an adjective. However, when I search for “thank-you” on Google, the vast majority of the returns are not hyphenated. I believe I’ll stick with the unhyphenated version.
- Myriad of. “Myriad” is defined by Dictionary.com as “a very great or indefinitely great number of persons or things.” People say that since “myriad” originally meant 10,000 and you wouldn’t say “a 10,000 of trees,” that saying “a myriad of” is incorrect. However, common practice is to use “myriad” as both a noun and as a adjective, so it is becoming more commonplace to say “a myriad of.” Personally, I prefer “myriad” all by its little lonely self, and have corrected it myriad times (see what I did there?). But if the author insists, “a myriad of” is not incorrect.
Well that’s my list of petty annoyances that I’ve been keeping lately. Do you have any petty annoyances you’d like to share? Email those to me at email@example.com.