Confusing Words

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 protected] 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.

Memory tips:

  • 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”

Grammar Giggle – Calender?

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.

Ask PTB – Not Only, But Also

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.

Thanks for the question, Richard, and I hope you got the answer you were looking for. If anyone still has questions, check out the blog post “Not Only More Subject/Verb Agreement But Also Intervening Clauses” for more information about this and more or Ask PTB at the tab above.

Ask PTB – Emphasis Added

A reader recently asked, “I am writing a lengthy article that contains many quotes. From time to time, I will bold a portion of the quote for the sake of emphasis. I normally include an ’emphasis added’ in the citation to the source of the quote. Instead of adding ’emphasis added’ so many times throughout the article, would it be permissible to state upfront in a footnote or after the use of the first ’emphasis added’ that throughout the entire article, whenever the reader sees a portion of a quote bolded, it is my ’emphasis added’? That way I will not have to clutter the reading with so many ’emphasis added.’

Everything I find says that the phrase “emphasis added” should appear after the citation according to The Bluebook and immediately after the italicized words or in parentheses immediately after the quotation according to the Gregg Reference Manual and similar language in the APA and CMOS materials.

HOWEVER, I can see that adding that every single time would make an article very difficult to read, so unless it is a legal document or article subject to The Bluebook, I personally would appreciate the addition of an explanation of the bolding structure in quotations in one place (and probably at the first instance it is used) instead of every single time. While I can’t back that up with reference manual proof, for the readers’ sakes, I think it makes sense.

Thank you very much for the question! If you have a question that is bothering you, please Ask PTB by using the tab at the top of the page.

Grammar Giggle – Wither Is Not The Same As Either

This was in my “breaking news” stories recently. It took me a while, but I think they wanted to say “either” of the kids and slipped one finger to the left. Again, “wither” is a real word, so spell check wouldn’t catch it, so you need to actually read the text (or have someone else do it) to make sure things are correct.

Grammar Giggle – Tresury

For this Grammar Giggle, I have to admit that I am truly a grammar nerd. My nephew posted this on Facebook. I immediately had to post that his bank has misspelled “Treasury” and how disappointed I was. A cousin responded that I hadn’t even flinched at the “pornhub” entry. Well, to be honest, that’s because I didn’t get past the misspelled “Treasury.” In the days since, I have seen the same picture multiple times, so I was getting upset over a meme . . . again. But I can see this happening in real life, so I’m including it. And it did make me laugh when I realized what I had done.