Confusing Words of the Week

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 proofthatblog@gmail.com and they may appear here soon!

This week’s words are:

principal: chief; leading; a capital sum of money that draws interest; chief official of a school

principle: a general truth; a rule; integrity

Helpers:

PrinciPAL is your PAL and has ALl the money

PrincipLE is a ruLE

Happy Blogiversary!

As hard as it is for me to believe, this labor of love has been going for five years today! What have I learned in those five years? 
1. That blogging isn’t easy.

2. That people actually read the blog.

3. That people around the world find Proof That blog by interesting Google searches.

4. That talking to people who read it and have ideas for topics is super rewarding.

5. That something I kind of started on a whim is now a passion.

For all those things, I thank you, my faithful readers. Thank you for reaching out with potential topics or with your own Grammar Giggles (and please keep them coming!). Thank you for stopping me when you see me at a conference or online to let me know you’re reading and getting something useful out if it. Most of all, thank you for continuing to read, for gently correcting me when I screw up, and for giving me faith that I just might be making a difference in this big ole world. 

So happy 5th blogiversary to everyone who has subscribed, stumbled upon, and shared this blog with others. You are why we keep doing what needs to get done. 

Confusing Words of the Week

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 proofthatblog@gmail.com and they may appear here soon!

This week’s words are:

council – an assembly

counsel – (n) an attorney; advice; (v) to give advice

consul – a foreign representative

Helpers:

Council – reminds me of a City council so the “cIl” at the end could stand for “cIty” to remind you an assembly is “council.”

Counsel – an easy (although perhaps inappropriate) way to remember this one is that an attorney “sel”ls his or her advice.

 

Song Lyric Grammar Errors . . . or Not?

Apparently the Princeton Review (which helps US students prepare for college admission tests) had an example of “Grammar in Real Life” using some song lyrics for students to find the errors. One of those examples was Taylor Swift’s song Fifteen. The Princeton Review said the lyric read “Somebody tells you they love you, you got to believe ’em.” A Swift fan was upset and posted a copy of the test page online. Taylor herself replied that they got the lyric wrong “Not the right lyrics at all pssshhhh. You had one job, test people. One job.” and that the correct lyric was “Somebody tells you they love you, you’re gonna believe them.” Princeton Review owned up to that error, but posted that the revised line still had a grammar error because “somebody” can’t later be referred to as “them.” “If we look at the whole sentence, it starts off with ‘somebody,’ and ‘somebody,’ as you know, is a singular pronoun and if it’s singular, the rest of the sentence has to be singular.” They apparently forgot, however, that “them” is a gender-neutral, singular pronoun that has been used that way since the 16th Century. So that sentence is actually grammatically correct. Go Taylor!

The same Princeton Review test referenced a Lady Gaga song saying the lyric “You and me could write a bad romance” is grammatically incorrect. OK, you’re correct there. In formal writing, it should be “you and I” EXCEPT song lyrics are not formal writing and “you and me” is what people say all the time, so it is acceptable in what we will call “musical speech.” Go Gaga!

It is admirable for Princeton Review to attempt to test grammar using real life examples, but they need to make sure their answer is correct first.

Confusing Words of the Week

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 Ask PTB or send an email to proofthatblog@gmail.com and they may appear here soon!

This week’s words:

Wangle – to get by devious means

  • Joe was trying to wangle an invitation to the party.

Wrangle – to bicker; to herd horses

  • It seems that politicians love nothing more than to wrangle with opponents.

Tip to help remember–Wrangle (with an “R”) means to “bickeR” or to “heRd hoRses.” The definition of “wangle” does not contain an “R.”

Ask PTB – Capitalization

Question: Is it his case number 30-100 or his Case Number 30-100?

Answer: First, thanks for asking the question. According to Gregg, a noun followed by a number or letter that indicates sequence is capitalized. I think since you are describing a specific case with the sequenced number, it is capitalized. If it just said “his case,” then it wouldn’t be capitalized, but it is like saying “his Mercedes Benz” rather than “his car.”

I hope that helps! And if any readers have questions, check out the Ask PTB page on the website proofthatblog.com.

Confusing Words of the Week

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 Ask PTB or send an email to proofthatblog@gmail.com and they may appear here soon!

This week’s words:

Loose: not bound; to release

  • The pants were loose after she lost 10 pounds.

Lose: to suffer the loss of; to part with unintentionally

 

  • She had 10 more pounds to lose.

Loss: something lost

  • She will end up with a 20 pound loss.

Grammar Giggle – What Do the Trumps Own?

My news station seems to have had trouble last week and used an apostrophe to make a proper noun plural rather than to show ownership (which would require an apostrophe). #azfamily #proofread #grammargiggle #proofthat

Grammar Giggle – Vacuum

My news station is keeping me in lots of material this week. Here is the headline for a story about the Roomba Vacuum. And that’s as in ONE “c,” not two. #azfamily #proofread #grammargiggle #proofthat

Proofreading Your Own Work

Proofreading your own workProofreading your own work is one of the hardest jobs you have. You know what it is supposed to say, so that’s what your brain reads. If you are trying to proofread your own work, here are some tips:

  • Take a break or just walk away for a few minutes. Refocusing your brain could make a difference in reading what the document actually says.
  • Print it out and read it in hard copy. Sometimes looking at something in a different way can help you actually see any errors. If you’ve been reading it on the computer, print it out and read the hard copy. If you’ve been reading it on paper, read it on the computer.
  • If it is something really important and you’re worried that you’ll miss something, ask someone else to read it for you.
  • Read it out loud. Sometimes hearing the words are easier than reading them.
  • Go to a quiet area if possible. Close your door, go into an empty office, or if possible, go downstairs in the fresh air. It is important to get away from emails, visitors, phone calls, and other interruptions.
  • Read it in parts and scramble them up. Read the first paragraph, then the third, then the fifth, etc. until the end of the document, then go up and read the second, then the fourth, etc. This will definitely not help you proof for consistency in the document, but it will help you find words that are wrong or misspelled.
  • Read for consistency. If terms have been defined and capitalized, make sure they are capitalized throughout using the appropriate defined term.

Most of all, keep learning. One good way is to read everything—newspapers, books, magazines. While there are lots of errors in those publications, there are also lots of good grammar usage. Another way is find websites and blogs that teach grammar and proofreading. Here are some of my recommendations—Proofreading Resources.

You should definitely proofread your work before you pass it on to the next person. Their job may well be to edit your work, but that doesn’t mean that their job is to clean it all up. You will impress them as a writer if they don’t have to correct obvious mistakes in your work. Take the time to prove that you are a good writer and know what you’re doing.

If you have tips for proofreading your own work, please share them in the comments below.