Guaranteed to improve your English

“Protect the Plate?” Why?

The World Series starts today, and while I would like to write about all the times I got annoyed at people mentioning it has been 108 years since the Cubs won and nobody mentioned that it had been 71 years since the Cubs had even been in it, I’m sticking with word usage.

Today’s baseball-themed topic comes from the softball diamond, but I remember hearing the same words as a Little League Baseball player in my youth: “Protect the plate.”

Typically, when a batter has two strikes on him/her, a coach reminds the batter to “protect the plate,” that is, if the ball is a strike — or if it looks like it will be a strike — swing.

I thought about this today. Home plate is a five-sided slab or rubber set at ground level. What protection does it possibly need, except perhaps 1) to sweep away the excess dirt, 2) stop pitched balls from hitting it, and 3) stop batters from aggressively pounding their bats on it, which leaves discoloration marks?

This is another example of a baseball term that doesn’t mean what it should (see: foul pole). What we really should be saying is, “protect the strike zone.”

It is the strike zone, the space a pitched ball must pass through to be called a strike (if the batter does not swing) that matters. So, don’t protect the plate, protect yourself and swing at a pitch in or near the strike zone.

Now, go Cubs.

Until next time! Use the right words!

October 25, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Does Bill Gates Know?

I’ve won more lotteries and inheritances online without entering any of them than I can believe. Now, Bill Gates wants to give me $5 million. I have never met or spoken to Bill Gates. And from the looks of this email, neither have the potential scammers, who like other similar email writers don’t appear to speak English as a first language.

As always, count the mistakes. It starts with the email address, continues with the dollar amount, USD designation, random capitalizations and incorrect capitalizations, spacings, punctuation problems, misspellings, deleted words. I stopped after 35 errors.

Greetings to You

You have been gifted $5 MILLION USD From Mr Bill Gates. Contact me at this email for your claim:

I hope this information meet you well as I know you will be curious to know why/how
I selected you to receive a sum of $5,000,000,00 USD, our information below is 100%
legitimate, please see the link below:

I BILL GATES and my wife decided to donate the sum of $5,000,000,00 USD to you as
part of our charity project to improve the 10 lucky individuals all over the world
from our $78 Billion Usd I and My Wife Mapped out to help people. We prayed and
searched over the internet for assistance and i saw your profile on Microsoft email
owners list and picked you. Melinda my wife and i have decided to make sure this is
put on the internet for the world to see. as you could see from the webpage above,am
not getting any younger and you can imagine having no much time to live. although am a Billionaire investor and we have helped some charity organizations from our Fund.

After taken care of the needs of our immediate family members, Before death we
decided to donate the remaining of our Billions to other individuals around the
world in need, the local fire department, the red cross, Haiti, hospitals in truro
where Melinda underwent her cancer treatment, and some other organizations in Asia
and Europe that fight cancer, alzheimer’s and diabetes and the bulk of the funds
deposited with our payout bank of this charity donation. We have kept just 30% of
the entire sum to our selves since i am sick and am writing to you from hospital,
and my wife will be travelling to Germany for Treatment too.

To facilitate the payment process of ($5,000,000.00 USD) you are to send us

your full names……………..
your contact address…………….
your personal telephone number……………

so that i can forward your payment information to you immediately. I am hoping that
you will be able to use the money wisely and judiciously over there in your City.
please you have to do your part to also alleviate the level of poverty in your
region, help as many you can help once you have this money in your personal account
because that is the only objective of donating this money to you in the first place.

Thank you for accepting our offer, we are indeed grateful You Can Google my name for
more information: Mr Bill Gates or Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Remain Blessed

Mr Bill Gates.

I went to the Gates Foundation website and found a page devoted to scams and alerted the Foundation to this particular scam.

Until next time! Use the right words! Don’t Get Scammed!

October 20, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Simple Folk Speaking Simply … Wrong

Ah, networking people. They’re so simple. They don’t know how to use the language correctly. More examples follow.

“We’re under new management the past three years” — Actually, that’s a sign of bad management. Either that or someone doesn’t know the meaning of the word new.

The correct statement: “We’re under the same management for the past three years.”

“I was walking down the street and I could see the wind” — No, you couldn’t. You could only see the signs of the wind: the trees waving, your hair flowing, the leaves blowing, etc.

“I’m down the street” — No, you’re standing in this restaurant where the networking meeting is taking place.

“Whoever becomes president next month…” — Putting aside the incorrect whoever for the moment, I went through this last week: No one becomes president next month. Barack Obama will still be president for all of November. The new president, whether Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, takes over Jan. 20. Between Nov. 8 and Jan. 20, someone will be president-elect.

The correct statement: “Whomever is elected president next month …”

Until next time! Use the right words!

It’s here! My début book, “If You Experience Death, Please Call: And Other Fatal Mistakes We Make With Language” is available on Amazon for only $14.95.  Order here.

October 18, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Prof. Carlin Now Will Continue the Lesson

By popular demand — which means I unilaterally decided to do this — here are more English corrections with Professor George Carlin. Taken from an audio book.

cop out — It means an admission of guilt (to cop a plea). It is not an excuse.

getting the monkey off one’s back — It refers to ending a dependency, not breaking a losing streak.

an eye for an eye — It’s a call for fairness, not revenge. As a referee, I hear something similar all the time: “Call it both ways!”

kudos — It’s pronounced “CUE-doze” and is a singular noun meaning “praise.” Its plural form is spelled and pronounced the same.

race, color and creed — In this usage, race and color describe the same property. Creed means “religion,” not Rocky Balboa’s boxing opponent.

everything comes in threes — Actually, everything comes in ones. When three ones come together, it seems like threes.

you can’t take it with you when you die — Actually, you can take a dark blue suit with you, and you probably can put some stuff in the pockets.

you learn something new every day — You actually learn something old every day. It’s just new to you.

it takes two to tango — Actually, it takes one, but it takes two to tango together.

meteoric rise — Meteors fall, not rise.

talk until you’re blue in the face — Impossible. If you talk, you’ve got the oxygen you need. If you’re blue in the face, you’re not talking because you don’t have the oxygen.

Until next time! Use the right words!

It’s here! My début book, “If You Experience Death, Please Call: And Other Fatal Mistakes We Make With Language” is available on Amazon for only $14.95.  Order here.

October 13, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How to Speak English, by George Carlin

My love and admiration for George Carlin knows no limits. I recently discovered what I think is an audio book of Carlin talking about how too many people (media types in particular) make mistakes with the language.

Here are excerpts.

forte is pronounced fort and means “specialty.” The Italian word forte is pronounced “FOR-tay” and tells the musician to play loud.

irony vs. coincidence — Irony deals with the opposite of what was to be expected. So, two baseball players from the same town making the major leagues and wearing the same uniform number is coincidence. If a diabetic is killed by a truck carrying insulin, that’s irony. If a football player suffers a career-ending injury, and if that player’s son later suffers the same injury, it’s coincidence. If the son causes the same injury to someone else, it’s ironic. But of the son causes the same injury to the son of the father who injured his father, that is the ultimate in irony.

prodigal — It does not mean “wandering” or “leaving and then returning.” It means “recklessly wasteful or extravagant.” Read the Book of Luke’s story about the Prodigal Son and you’ll see.

sour grapes — It does not refer to jealousy or envy or being a sore loser. It is a rationalization. In Aesop’s Fables, the fox rationalizes that, had he been able to jump high enough to reach the grapes, they probably would have been sour.

celibacy vs. chastity — One refers to not being married; the other refers to not having sex.

momentarily — It means “for a moment” not “in a moment.”

presently — It means “in a moment.”

no other option/alternative — It’s redundant.

light year — It’s a measure of distance, not time. It measures the distance light will travel in a year, which is about 5.88 trillion miles.

implosion — It isn’t the act of collapsing a building with explosives. That’s an explosion or series of explosions that causes the building to collapse inwardly. An implosion is a scientific phenomenon in which something bursts inward instead of outward.

Until next time! Use the right words!

It’s here! My début book, “If You Experience Death, Please Call: And Other Fatal Mistakes We Make With Language” is available on Amazon for only $14.95.  Order here.

October 11, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Overheard (It Never Gets Old)

I love networking meetings. You hear some great stuff.

1. A skin-care professional planning an event said, “See me for your cell phone number.”

Don’t you already have your number?

Someone else said, “The holidays are coming. It makes a great gift certificate.”

The holidays make a great gift certificate?

The guest speaker, talking about himself, said, “I came here when I was young. I don’t remember when. I was a baby.”

None of us remember such things. We rely on our parents or relatives to tell us.

Somebody talking about the upcoming election said, “Whoever is president on Nov. 9, we have to get ready.”

I can easily predict who will be president on Nov. 9: Obama. Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump will be president-elect and won’t become president until taking the oath of office on Jan. 20.

Until next time! Use the right words!

It’s here! My début book, “If You Experience Death, Please Call: And Other Fatal Mistakes We Make With Language” is available on Amazon for only $14.95.  Order here.

October 6, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

First Lotteries, Now an Inheritance

I’ve won more lotteries than I can recall (if you believe everything online). Now, I stand to inherit a fortune. There’s just one, er, TOO MANY problems.  Read below, and again, count the mistakes. Can you get to 50?


15, Military Street, Onikan, Ikoyi, Lagos.

Office e-mail (

Notification of your WILL to you by our late deceased .

Get back to me immediately for necessary steps concerning your inheritance, Sequel
to your non reply of my earlier emails to you since 2 weeks ego on behalf of the
Trustees and Executors to the WILL of your deceased as your the next of kin to
him.The Bank has mandate me to provide the next to this fund or the fund will be
confiscated or declared on-serviceable fund.

I wish to notify you that your Email address and your name appeared in the codicil
and last statement of the deceased Engr J.Ellwood and you are entitled to his U$6.9
Million Dollars. I will advise you about the steps on how to redeem your inheritance
funds from the bank. Reply immediately because the bank is waiting for you to show
up and claim the funds as they have mandate me to provide the next of kin to the

My Private Office Email (

The deceased has worked Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) Limited for 23 year’s
as chief engineer he died by cancer of lungs on 5th Feb 2012 by 9:20 AM.

Yours Faithfully,

Barrister Anthony Ikwueme,

Ikwueme LAW FIRM.

Until next time! Use the right words!

It’s here! My début book, “If You Experience Death, Please Call: And Other Fatal Mistakes We Make With Language” is available on Amazon for only $14.95.  Order here.

October 4, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I Won the Lottery … Again?

I think that so much identity theft online is due to people responding to emails such as the one below. How can anyone really believe something with this many errors (I lost count after 50) is legitimate? It’s one of many online scams obviously been written by someone whose first language isn’t English.

Dear Beneficiary

This is Oregon Lottery Department, We are writing to officially inform you about
the ongoing free award given prize from Oregon US Lottery Online Promotions. Email
Belong to the said beneficiary have been selected as one of our lucky online participant to partake in this free giving online promotion Award.

Below is the prize description and more information about this Prize given to you.
Please read carefully from beginning to end and treat genuinely.

Description prize;

$800,000 USD

Please Note: There are online Lottery Scam that can be found on the Internet such
as BMW Lottery Scam, which you can easily search on google. Our Company(Oregon
Lottery) have never been recognized as one the partakers of Online Lottery Scam.
Please search the Internet for confirmation if you have any doubts.

As a proof of our legitimacy we have a confirmation of a participant who won the
sum of $6,400,000 from Iraq and due to security reason, he pleaded for his name not
to be revealed on the Internet.

We provided the link so you can make confirmation by yourself and for you to know
we are well verified.

This lottery selection process was carried out through random selection in our
computerized email selection system (ESS) from a database of over 10,000 email
addresses drawn out from USA and Canada, your email appear to be among the lucky winners, this is the reason we contacted you.

Our Lottery Organization was also confirmed by Prof. I. Nelson Rose the eminent
professor of law at the Whittier Law School in California that Oregon Lottery
method of providing Online tickets and free award to beneficiaries around the globe
to lottery participants is (100%) Legitimate.

The Oregon Lottery is approved by the British Gaming Board and also Licensed by the
International Association of Gaming Regulators (IAGR).

To begin the processing of your prize you are to contact your fiduciary agent
assigned for you with her information below and she would be providing you her ID
for verification of her Identity before proceeding on delivering your prize.

Name: Eileen Benko
Work uslotydepartment@gmail
State: Florida
Country: USA
State of Residence: Oregon
Occupation: Fiduciary Agent

Due to Online Frauds and to prevent a third party from getting your winnings and
prize, We have provided a little security check that will enable us confirm we are
in contact with the real owner of this email. Please Provide your Fiduciary agent your winner ID and also the following information needed below for security check.

Oregon : 466125AGDY02/13.


Full Name:
Direct Mobile Number:

This would enable her give you the next required step in completing this
transaction and delivering your prize to you successfully.

Congratulations once again,

FINAL NOTE: Replying this email with your winner ID and information?s required
would take you straight to your Fiduciary Agent automatically. Always know you are
replying to her directly.

Mr. Barry Pack

For the record, I have won lotteries in Oregon, Nigeria, the United Kingdom and the United Nations, which as far as I know, doesn’t have a lottery.

Until next time! Use the right words!

It’s here! My début book, “If You Experience Death, Please Call: And Other Fatal Mistakes We Make With Language” is available on Amazon for only $14.95.  Order here.

September 29, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

As Opposed to “As Late as Possible?”

Once again, a networking meeting provides me with fodder.

This time, it’s a report of a fellow networker suffering from cancer. The group president announced that a member has cancer and he’s fighting it, and “We’re sure he will be back as soon as possible.”

To which I thought, No, he’s going to be back as late as possible. I don’t mean “late” as in “dead,” either. It’s just that it seems obvious to me that someone will be back as soon as possible if he wants to be there in the first place, which he does.

So, duh.

It’s here! My début book, “If You Experience Death, Please Call: And Other Fatal Mistakes We Make With Language” is available on Amazon for only $14.95.  Order here.

September 27, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

The Answer Isn’t Always “Money”

While watching “Pardon the Interruption” the other day, host Tony Kornheiser quoted former NBC executive Don Ohlmeyer as having told him, “The answer to all your questions is money.”

So, being the smart-ass I am, I decided to come up with several questions in which I knew the answer was not “money.” For example, why is the sky blue? (A: air molecules scatter blue light from the sun more than they scatter red light) and why is the grass green? (A: chlorophyll).

But in researching Ohlmeyer’s quote, I found out he more than likely said, “If the question is about sports,  the answer is money.”

So, here are 10 sports questions in which the answer isn’t “money.”

  1. What are the dimensions of an Olympic-sized swimming pool? (A: 50 meters long by 25 meters wide)
  2. How tall is a hurdle? (A: five heights, ranging from 27 inches to 42 inches)
  3. Who holds the record for most career home runs? (A: Barry Bonds, 762, although some would say Sadaharu Oh with 868)
  4. How high is a volleyball net? (A: 7 feet, 4⅛  inches for women/girls, 7-11⅝  for men/boys)
  5. How many yards is a football team penalized for being offside? (A: five yards)
  6. What is a split in bowling? (A: two or more non-adjacent pins are left standing after the first roll of a frame)
  7. What is an eagle in golf? (A: two strokes under par on a hole)
  8. How much must a boxer weigh to be considered a heavyweight? (A: at least 201 pounds)
  9. What does a red card mean in soccer? (A: a player is sent off and the team must play with one fewer players)
  10. Why is the marathon distance 26 miles, 385 yards? (A: According to The International Amateur Athletic Federation website, the distance was set at 26 miles at the 1908 Olympic Games in London, and increased another 385 yards when the starting line was pulled back so it could be seen by the children in the Royal Nursery at Windsor Castle and still finish in front of Queen Alexandra at the White City Stadium in west London.)

So there.

It’s here! My début book, “If You Experience Death, Please Call: And Other Fatal Mistakes We Make With Language” is available on Amazon for only $14.95.  Order here.

September 15, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment