Grammar Giggles – Yum, Desert . . . I Mean Dessert . . . I Mean Something Sweet to End a Meal

This picture is from my last trip to one of my favorite restaurants. There IS a difference! I live in the DESERT and I love to eat DESSERT.

Lolos menu

Grammar Giggle – No Job Too Big, Too Small, or To Be Done Correctly

This one comes from Twitter. The confusion between to, too, and two is high, but signmakers need to do more than use the “that’s the way they gave it to me” excuse. Between a few people, one can hope that someone would get it right. Then again . . .

lawn service2

Quick Confusing Words – Kitty-corner or Catty-corner? Onto or on to?

Here are just a couple of quickies that don’t really warrant an entire blog post, but where readers have requested clarification.

1. Kitty corner or catty corner? According to Merriam-Webster Online, kitty-corner is used to describe two things that are located across from each other on opposite corners. Variants of kitty-corner are both catercorner and catty-corner. Which word you use could be determined by where you live. Those in the northeast part of the country use kitty-corner most often and those in the southeast part of the country use catty-corner. This website has a map based on a dialect survey that is interesting for this issue – http://www4.uwm.edu/FLL/linguistics/dialect/staticmaps/q_76.html. Basically, all three forms are correct, but catercorner and catty-corner are derivatives of the more popular katty-corner.

2. Onto or on to. Onto is a preposition describing the direction of something moving toward a surface. A trick that you can use is to check to see if on can replace onto.

She climbed onto her car.

In this sentence, onto is correct because “She climbed on her car” makes sense. On the other hand, if you left someone something in your will, you would not say “I passed my grandfather’s pocket watch on him,” so that sentence should be:

I passed my grandfather’s pocket watch on to him.

Let me know if you have something you struggle with. Chances are that it isn’t just you and others can benefit from a blog post about that very topic. Comment below or email proofthatblog@gmail.com.

 

The Effect Of The Confusion Of When To Use Affect And Effect Is Affecting My Brain

Affect v EffectI had a request to write about affect and effect. Since I’ve had trouble with those words in the past myself, I completely understand how confusing they are! Dictonary.com defines affect as a verb (used with an object) meaning:

  • to act on; produce an effect or change in:

Cold weather affected the crops.

  • to impress the mind or move the feelings of:

The music affected him deeply.

  • to give the appearance of; pretend or feign:

to affect knowledge of the situation.

  • to assume artificially, pretentiously, or for effect:

to affect a Southern accent.”

It is also defined as a noun meaning feeling or emotion.

Effect is defined as a noun:

  • something that is produced by an agency or cause; result; consequence:

Exposure to the sun had the effect of toughening his skin.

  • power to produce results; efficacy; force; validity; influence:

His protest had no effect.

And as a verb (used with object):

  • to produce as an effect; bring about; accomplish; make happen:

The new machines finally effected the transition to computerized accounting last spring.

So what does that mean really? Affect is usually used as a verb to mean to influence or change. Effect is either used as a verb meaning to bring about or as a noun meaning the result or impression. Which would you choose when you hear “The wine didn’t have quite the affect/effect she was hoping for”? Some of these are so close that either could be correct, so you need to dig just a little bit deeper. First, you need to decide if it is a verb (an action word) or a noun (the name of a person, place, object, idea, quality, or activity). “The wine didn’t have quite the [action] she was hoping for.” So the verb definitions are affect to influence or change and effect to bring about. Would you say “The wine didn’t have quite the influence or change she was hoping for” or “The wine didn’t have quite the bring about she was hoping for.” The correct word is affect.

“The new paralegal was affecting/effecting the morale in the office.” The paralegal was creating an action on the morale in the office so was the new paralegal influencing or changing (affecting) the morale or was he bringing about (effecting) the morale? It should be affecting.

“The uncertainty in the legal market affected/effected attendance at the conference.” The uncertainty influenced or changed the attendance or the uncertainty brought about the attendance? Here, it would be affected.

One more for good measure: “The ruling in this case will affect/effect future door-to-door sales.” Will the ruling influence or change sales or will the ruling bring about sales? This should be affect.

We’ve done some practice with affect/effect as verbs, let’s try one as a noun. “The affect/effect of the storm damage won’t be known for some time.” Is it the feeling or emotion of the storm damage that won’t be known or is it the result of the storm damage that won’t be known? It should be effect.

These two words are very confusing. If it will help, copy the chart below and keep it at your desk for a quick reference:
Affect Effect

Grammar Giggles – Porcelian . . . Porcel . . . Tile

While dragged along to Home Depot recently, I saw this sign. Then I saw several others for the same type of tile that were spelled the same. At least they were consistent (and consistency is important)!

 

Home Depot

Either Or . . . Neither Nor . . . Connecting Singular Words and Plural Words and the Right Verb

Either orThere is some confusion over whether to  use a singular or a plural verb when using the famous connectors oreither . . . orneither . . . nor, or not only . . . but also. Here is a quick rundown that should help.

If you are connecting singular words using oreither . . . orneither . . . nor, or not only . . . but also, the subject is singular, so you would use a singular verb.

  • Either Mary or Patsy is working overtime tonight.
  • Neither peanut butter nor jelly is in my cupboard.

Note that it is now also acceptable to connect more than two words using the connectors above.

  • Neither paper nor toner nor a manual was included with the new printer.

If you are connecting two or more plural words using oreither . . . orneither . . . nor, or not only . . . but also, the subject is plural, so you would use a plural verb.

  • Either books or magazines are available in the doctor’s office.
  • Neither beans nor noodles are in my cupboard.

When you are using a mix of singular and plural words connected with oreither . . . orneither . . . nor, or not only . . . but also, the verb should agree with the nearer part of the subject.

  • Either a diamond necklace or pearls go with that evening gown.
  • Either pearls or a diamond necklace goes with that evening gown.
  • Neither the boss nor the workers expect to work late.
  • Neither the workers nor the boss expects to work late.

I hope this helps. Do you have a topic that continues to confuse you? Either leave a comment below or email me at proofthatblog@gmail.com and watch for a future blog post trying to make that topic easier to understand.

Grammar Giggles – Tombstone

I was doing a little research on Tombstone, Arizona, as a potential day trip when this jumped out at me on the City’s webpage. I’m most afraid that someone thinks this is correct because it looks the way a lot of people say it–but it’s not.

tombstone

Confusing Words

A few weeks ago, a blog post went over several words that are frequently confused by writers (See More Confusing Words!). Here are a few more:

casual – informal
causal – causingcereal killer

cereal – breakfast food
serial – a series

choose – to select
chose – did choose (past tense of choose)

cite – to quote
site – a place
sight – to see

click – a slight, sharp sound
clique – an exclusive group
cliché – a trite phrase

collision – coming violently together
collusion – fraudulent scheme

complement – something that goes well with something
compliment – a flattering remark

council – a body of persons specially designated or selected for a purpose
counsel – an attorney; to give advice
consul – a foreign representative

cue – hint
queue – a line, especially people waiting their turn

dairy – cows and milking equipment
diary – a journal of daily activities

It’s always important to make sure you are using the same words, particularly when they are easily confused. Take the time to look up definitions if necessary to make sure you are using the correct word.

 

Is Good Grammar Old-Fashion or Old-Fashioned?

Due to technical difficulties when I was on vacation, my friend Kerie was not able to post this article about good old-fashioned grammar, but we will include it this week. Many thanks to Kerie!

Recently, while traveling with two friends in the back seat of a taxicab in Tulsa, Oklahoma following the 2014 NALS Professional Development and Education Conference, Kathy spotted a sign advertising “old fashion” root beer floats. The sign not only spoke to our ice cream cravings, but also sparked a grammar debate about the terms “old fashion” and “old-fashioned.” After some discussion, we decided we needed to do some research on the terms to clarify the appropriate usage.

As it turns out, our friends at the ice cream shop were wrong. “Old-fashioned” is a compound adjective meaning not in accord with or not following current fashion; or fashioned in a manner of old. When used as an adjective, it describes a noun, for example;

  • old-fashioned root beer float;
  • old-fashioned candy;
  • old-fashioned Christmas;
  • old-fashioned costumes.

“Old fashioned” can also be used as a noun, meaning a cocktail made of whiskey, bitters, sugar, and fruit. Notice that “old-fashioned” when used as a compound adjective has a hyphen because we link two adjectives by a hyphen when we use them to describe a noun. When used as a noun, “old fashioned” has no hyphen. My guess, though, is that the ice cream shop was advertising root beer floats and not liquor.

“Old fashion” is used colloquially (read incorrectly) and often in advertising, but it is simply incorrect.

We Appreciate Proofreading Tips Each and Everyday.

Use of the phrase each and every is really duplicative. Each really means the same thing as every. They both mean “a single thing.” You should use either one of those words but not both of them together:

  • Jeff brings his lunch every day.
  • They clocked in each day at 8:00 a.m.
  • Each worker worked 50 hours last week.
  • Every car in the lot was stuck in the snow.

Another issue people seem to have is every day and everyday. Everyday means commonplace or ordinary as in an everyday occurrence.

  • Cooking dinner is an everyday occurrence in my house.

Every day means something that happens every single day or each day. In fact, if you can add the word single between every and day or replace every day with each day, then every day should be two words. If not, then you use everyday.

  • She stopped at Starbucks every [single] day.
  • The chaos of getting ready for school with five siblings was an everyday occurrence. [you cannot replace everyday with each day so it is one word]
  • Her Starbucks stop was an everyday habit.
  • Someone was crying every [single] day while getting ready for school.

So here’s hoping writers will stop using “each and every” and practice adding single or replacing with each day to determine the proper usage of every day v. everyday. One can hope!

I am preparing every day for a two week vacation. In my absence, a fellow proofreading “nerd” (and I use that term lovingly) will guest blog. Kerie is amazing and brilliant and I’m sure will post great content. Please be gentle and supportive and I will pick up when I return. Ciao!