The pandemic created a special update to the Merriam-Webster.com dictionary. The new words include COVID-19 and social distancing. They also include these related words and definitions:
Self-isolate: to isolate or separate oneself or itself from others.
Physical distancing: the practice of maintaining a greater than usual physical space between oneself and other people or of avoiding direct contact with people or objects in public places during the outbreak of a contagious disease in order to minimize exposure and reduce the transmission of infection.
WFH: abbreviation for “working from home.”
PPE: abbreviation for “personal protective equipment.”
Intensivist: a physician who specializes in the care and treatment of patients in intensive care.
New technology words include deepfake: an image or recording that has been convincingly altered and manipulated to misrepresent someone as doing or saying something that was not actually done or said.
An informal pronunciation spelling has turned up in the dictionary as “finna” meaning “fixing to” do something.
And my favorite of the short list I saw is truthiness: a seemingly truthful quality not supported by facts or evidence.
It’s always good to look up words you haven’t seen before or aren’t sure of their meaning in a dictionary. Learn every day. It is so easy with the ability to get dictionary definitions from Merriam-Webster, Oxford, and other reputable dictionaries on a cell phone that it doesn’t make any sense not to understand what a word means so you can use it correctly.
In celebration of my wedding anniversary today, I found this gem on the internet. It was one of many examples of cake decorators who get the instructions wrong or just plain can’t spell or, worse yet, both!
Facebook Marketplace is a plethora of content for Grammar Giggles. Please understand that I am not making fun of people for making mistakes, I’m using those mistakes as a teaching mechanism for proofreading E V E R Y T H I N G! That said, I found this on Facebook Marketplace recently. I understand that the “e” and the “w” are right next to each other on the keyboard, but can we at least look at what we are posting before we actually hit “post”? Or at least edit it afterward if we notice it later?
My daughter found this one on Facebook, but as awful as it is, it is believable. I hope the machine becomes convinced to make milkshakes again soon once the maintains are over, but thanks for the apologists!
I saw this one while I was waiting for the next round of a game on my phone this weekend. I am usually annoyed by these things, but I wanted to capture a picture of this one because I have made that error before (and wrote about it here)
This was a local news story and although I feared the apostrophe in “his” was something on my phone, it was not. And then I found the second error. Tucson, Arizona, is spelled “T U C S O N,” although it is frequently misspelled. But for an Arizona news station to misspell it–in the same article that they added an apostrophe to “his”–is inexcusable. “His” doesn’t need an apostrophe because the word itself means that it belongs to him so there is no other possessive for HIS apartment.
It’s time for “PTB Confusing Words” 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:
pedal – (adj.) pertaining to the foot; (n.) a treadle (as in to step on the pedal)
She almost got in an accident until she slammed on her brake pedal.
peddle – to hawk; to sell
The woman on the corner looked like it was her job to peddle all the roses and giant teddy bears for Mother’s Day.
pedal – “PED” is foot and a pedal takes you A Long way to all the places
peddle – think of the double letter and the definition–“sell” has two “l’s” and “peddle” has two “d’s”
We recently had a sales pitch for a new docketing/calendaring program when I caught this one. At first, I thought maybe it was an intentional misspelling that had something to do with a trademark, but, alas, when I went to the website, “calendar” was spelled correctly, so it was just the pitch that was misspelled. I see a lot of errors in PowerPoint presentations and other presentation materials. That is one where it is really important to have other people proofread it since you know what it is supposed to say, so you “see” it that way, but someone else might not. In any event, it is important to proofread your presentation materials–both visual and your handouts.
Richard recently asked “You spoke of using the correlative conjunctions ‘not only, but also’ with several different helpful examples, but there’s one example you did not present – when there are two singular subjects in a positive structure. What would we say in the following example:
Not only John, but also his wife is/are going to graduate.
Not only he, but also she is/are going to graduate.
Do we use ‘is’ or ‘are’ here? We are talking about both subjects doing something.”
When you have two singular words joined by not only . . . but also, the subject is singular and so you use a singular verb. This would cover your examples. Both words are singular–“John” and “wife,” “he” and “she.” So the correct word in both cases would be “is.”
Not only John but also his wife is going to graduate.
Not only he but also she is going to graduate.
You should also notice that there are no commas in that sentence. Most sources I reviewed said there would be no commas unless it was confusing. I don’t think that fits here.