usingtherightwords

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All About “While”


I’m back from vacation. I whiled away my time in Las Vegas. Came home ahead $200 without gambling.

Now that I’m back, it’s back to work, and immediately I see the word while misused. This is especially true when it’s used this way: “Eddie will entertain youngsters with comedy and magic gags Sept. 13, while balloons and a unicycle are part of Alex’s juggling act on Sept. 20.” (This is from a magazine I edit; I caught the mistake, as you can see.)

While means “at the same time as.” So, in the above example, it’s impossible to use while correctly because things are happening on different days.

While I appreciate the schedule, I don’t like the word being misused.

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.

leebarnathan.com

August 16, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | 2 Comments

More Gym Stupidity, Years Later


Many years ago, I wrote about how a certain YMCA would rather mangle the language than hire someone (me) to fix those mistakes. Read it here.

Well, here we go again.  My current gym, Powerhouse Fitness, was sold to Crunch Fitness, and we got a note proudly proclaiming, “There will be no changes to your membership or fee’s.”

Yes, fee’s. Not fees.

The note also said, “We will be investing over a million dollars innovations and new equipment.” It’s more correct to say more than a million dollars.

I asked a girl at the front desk what the sale meant. She told me the mimimm-wage employees (including her) are still being paid minimum wage, but the trainers are gone because Crunch offered them too little money to continue. (My membership doesn’t expire until next August, so I’m taking a wait-and-see approach).

But, hey, she got a nice T-shirt to wear!

Ugh.

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.

leebarnathan.com

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

Pardon the Interruption, but I Wish I Had Thought of That


On Tuesday, I wrote about how Pablo S. Torre, Harvard graduate, used the non-standard word irregardless on ESPN’s “Pardon the Interruption” and how I think someone with a degree from one of the top schools in the country should know better.

On that same episode, host Tony Kornheiser made a point I wish I had made.

Kornheiser was discussing how Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes made a no-look pass in practice. Kornheiser said, “We come to the term no-look pass from basketball. It’s not really a no-look pass. It’s a look-away pass. You know where the guys are.”

I recently gave a speech in which I pointed out that some words aren’t describing what they claim to. Two examples: Life insurance. It’s only paid upon death, so it should be called death insurance. And when a baseball hits the foul pole, it’s a home run, so it should be called a fair pole.

To hear Kornheiser, who like me attended a state school (in his case, SUNY Binghamton) make this point makes me wish I had thought of it.

He continued, “In football, if it’s truly a no-look pass, the first time it is returned for six points, it will come out of the playbook.”

Amen.

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.

leebarnathan.com

July 21, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Would You Trust This Writing?


I get a great deal of spam email every day. Some of it is simply one line that reads, “Here is the information you requested” or words to that effect, followed by some name and an attachment. Since I don’t know these people and never requested anything, I simply delete. (If you get this email. DO NOT open the attachment. It’s probably a virus).

Then there’s spam like what’s below. What I want to know is, if you’re really trying to scam somebody, shouldn’t you at least get everything spelled and punctuated correctly? It would look much more professional, and it might just fool some people.

I’m diplomatic agent Mr.William Jack i have been trying to reach you on your email about couple of days now, just to inform you about my successful arrival in South San Francisco international airport California, with your consignment box worth $12.3millions. Which i have been instructed by d.h.l courier Delivery Company to be delivered to your home address. The airport authority demanded for all the legal back up papers to prove to them that the atm visa card ready delivery, i have presented the papers I handed to them and they are very much pleased with the papers I presented but the only thing that is still keeping me here is the airport custom yellow tag and international clearance permit certificate. Which is not placed on the package, one of the airport authority has advice that we get the custom yellow tag and international delivery permit certificate which cost $105. Contact me back on sms: +17752384004 / view email (diplomaticagent1994@gmail.com) regard diplomatic. Mr. William Jack

I counted 25 mistakes before I gave up.

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.

leebarnathan.com

July 14, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Correctly Guess the Child She’s Carrying Every Time!


A pregnant woman brings out some strange qualities in people. They want to touch the belly or give unsolicited advice or offer to help with something the woman is perfectly capable of doing.

Another thing people like to do: guess what she’s carrying.

You’ve heard the myths: If you’re carrying low, it’s a boy; if you’re carrying high, it’s a girl. If the baby’s heart beats faster than 140 beats per minute, it’s a girl. If you hang your wedding ring through a strand of the father’s hair and hold it over your belly, it’s a girl if the ring spins; it’s a boy if it sways. If you mix Drano with some urine, a green color means a boy.

And so on.

Forget all of those. I have the 100-percent, guaranteed-to-be-right, never-fail prediction.

When you see a pregnant woman, you point at her and say, “Let me guess? Human, right?”

You’ll be right every time. She might even laugh because it’s not the usual answer she gets.

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.

leebarnathan.com

July 12, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Looking at “Native American” Differently


I was struck by something Donald Trump said on Monday. Because Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) appeared with Hillary Clinton, Trump attacked Warren and her listing herself as a Native American minority in Association of American Law Schools (AALS) directories from 1986-95.

“She used the fact that she was Native American to advance her career,” Trump said. “Elizabeth Warren is a total fraud.”

Now, I could write an entire blog based on everything Trump says and fact-check and correct his usage. In this case, Warren said she had self-identified as a minority in the directories to meet others with similar tribal roots. Her brothers defended her, stating that they “grew up listening to our mother and grandmother and other relatives talk about our family’s Cherokee and Delaware heritage.”

Whether you believe Warren or not, or whether you side with Trump or not, it makes no difference to me. The point I want to make is, if you break down the words, you’ll see that Warren, millions of others and I are, in fact, native Americans.

Native means “belonging to a particular place by birth.” Warren was born in Oklahoma City (notice Trump doesn’t question her birth as he did with President Obama in 2011). The Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution begins, “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.” This makes Warren an American.

And a native American.

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.

leebarnathan.com

June 30, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

No Day of Rest in Finding Errors


Almost wherever I go, I find writing examples that make me laugh. This past weekend, I found them in synagogue.

Each week, the temple prints up a list of upcoming activities. Four times in the coming two weeks is this news: “Summer Drop in Hebrew.”

I can nonetheless see the truth behind this: Summer vacations will take Hebrew-speaking people away from here. I guess the temple knows who’s going and when, so it can report on these four drops in Hebrew.

Oh, you mean Summer Drop-in Hebrew? When people can come by and practice their Hebrew with Hebrew-speaking people? Then why didn’t you write that?

The next day, Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath, I attended a Bar Mitzvah. After the service, we gathered in the social hall, where one of the first things we saw (and this is common) was a photo of the boy with plenty of white space to write messages.

The sign said, “Please Sign With Warm Wishes.”

I didn’t know how to do that. I would have preferred signing with a pen.

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.

leebarnathan.com

June 28, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Good, the Bad, and the Funny of Networking


More networking meetings means more crazy word choices. But here also are some that I think are really good.

Good: A massage therapist’s tag line: If your back is aching, a massage appointment went you should be making.

Bad: A networking group was having a lip-sync contest. One man got up and said, “Guess what I’ll be singing?” (Uh, nothing, it’s a lip-sync contest.)

Good: A plumber’s tag line: We drain your sinks, not your pockets.

Funny: A man showed me a picture of a sign on a door of a medical doctor of “Adult and Robotic Urology.” He told me, “I didn’t know robots needed a urologist!”

Good: A realtor’s tag line: Everything I touch turns to sold.

Good: Another realtor’s tag line: If you have a realtor, great. If you want a great realtor, call me.

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.

leebarnathan.com

June 21, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Would You Give This Guy a Gun?


I received the following letter from a man who applied for a license to carry a concealed weapon in public. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department denied his request because he did not meet the criteria set forth in Peruta v. County of San Diego (2014): “good cause” that “distinguish[es] the applicant from the mainstream and places the applicant in harm’s way” (Cal. Pen. Code §§ 26150, 26155). It’s a case in which the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled “there is no Second Amendment right for members of the general public to carry concealed firearms in public.”

But if you read his letters, one of which is printed verbatim below, you might consider otherwise. Then again, maybe you wouldn’t.

If you want something to rant about try this.

Frist let me start buy saying I was a shooter and diver in the navy. And when I got out I was a range officer and instructor for a few years.

I have never had any arrest or problems with the police. In the passed thirty years not even a parking ticket.

I have ben a gun collector for many years. And now that the crime rate is going up and coming closer to our town I want to be able to protect myself and my Family.

I put in for my full carry permit on 3/28/14. since then the Sheriff and I have been sending litter back and forth (I will inclose the litters) the reason he is giving me are laws that he is just making up and not on the book anywhere. When I ask him th explain he just sends me the same thing. I have asked him where this law is and he will not tell me.I have asked the N.R.A. lawyers and others and they have never heard of such a law.

In his letter to me to tell me why I cant have a permit he say I am not in enough danger. I asked how much danger do I need to be in. It is not on the law books anywhere he just make it up.

If you want more I have it from him on his letter head hope your reads will like this rant and can help.

I personly belive the 2nd amendment is my carry permit.

I count 30 errors, including misspellings, capitalization, punctuation and spacing errors. See how many you find.

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.

leebarnathan.com

June 16, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What’s That Nation’s Name?


If you’re a sports apparel company, and if you wish to outfit a team of players representing  a country, you’d better spell the country name correctly.

For the Copa America, Adidas didn’t, spelling one South American nation Columbia instead of Colombia.

Besides it probably annoying about 48 million people (the country’s population) as well as famous expats such as Sofia Vergara, it’s funny in that Columbia is a feminization of the name “United States of America.” (Too bad Adidas isn’t American, for that would be really funny; it’s German.)

What’s next? Spelling a long, skinny South American nation Chilly? How about Hatey, in the Care-i-bean? Peroo?

Puh-leeze.

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.

leebarnathan.com

June 14, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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