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 | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 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?

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

The holidays make a great gift certificate?

3. 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.

4. 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


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