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A Theatrical Performance about Puns: A Play on Words

Good writing can be many things: intelligent, thought-provoking, insightful, controversial, humorous, political and clever, to name seven.

It also can be punny, as the following examples I received from a reader show. I wouldn’t be surprised if you find some of these groan-inducing.

Venison for dinner again? Oh deer!

England has no kidney bank, but it has a Liverpool.

I changed my iPod’s name to Titanic. It’s syncing now.

Jokes about German sausage are the wurst.

I know a guy who’s addicted to brake fluid, but he says he can stop at any time.

This girl said she recognized me from the vegetarian club, but I’d never seen herbivore.

I stayed up all night to see where the sun set, and then it dawned on me.

The Native Americans were here first because they had reservations.

I didn’t like my beard at first. Then it grew on me.

The cross-eyed teacher lost her job because she couldn’t control her pupils.

When you get bladder infections, urine trouble.

Broken pencils are pointless.

I got a job at the bakery because I kneaded dough.

A dinosaur with an extensive vocabulary is a thesaurus.

Velcro: What a rip-off!

Thanks to Linda S. for the puns.

Until next time! Use the right words!

May 25, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Announcer Shows His Soccer Ignorance

It might not seem like much to most people, but when I hear sports announcers/commentators use the wrong words, I wince, cringe and feel annoyance.

The latest case in point: Today’s FIFA Women’s World Cup soccer match between France and England (very boring, I might add, which was why I found myself listening to the announcers/commentators). Every time England would pass the ball from one sideline to the other sideline, the Fox Sports announcer Justin Kutcher would say, “And now, England switches fields.”

But they didn’t. The players stayed on that same artificial pitch in the stadium in Moncton, New Brunswick.

What they did was switch sides of the field. From left to right or right to left (or up and down on your TV set).

Field, in this case, means “an area constructed, equipped or marked for sports.” That’s where they played.

I shouldn’t have been surprised. Kutcher is not a soccer announcer. He mostly calls college football, college basketball and Major League Baseball games.

But his partner, Aly Wagner, was a national team player. She should have known better.

Until next time! Use the right words!

June 9, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

And Now, A Really Long Word

My wife handed me a piece of paper yesterday, from some sort of page-a-day® calendar dated Jan. 7, 2015. It’s a calendar from Workman Publishing that offers a word a day. On this particular day, the word was sesquipedalian, meaning “having many syllables: long” and “using long words.”

This calendar also has a explanation behind the word. To paraphrase, the word traces back to Roman times, when the Roman poet Horace warned his students against using sesquipedalian verba — that is, “words and foot and a half long.”

The explanation then jumped to 17th century England and literary critics using the word to scold people who used unnecessarily long words.

Finally, it explains that the Latin prefix sesqui- is used today to mean “one and a half time,” which is why a 150th anniversary is called a sesquicentennial.

There you have it. I hope my wife didn’t show me this word because or my tendency to use sesquipedalian words.

Until next time! Use the right words!

January 27, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

American English vs. British English

For those who travel between the United States and Britain, be aware of the following words that are correct in their respective countries:

American               British

apartment                      flat

can                                     tin

closet                                wardrobe (can you imagine “The Lion, The Witch and the Closet”?)

cookie                               biscuit

diaper                               nappy

overalls                            dungarees

elevator                            lift

eraser                                rubber (make sure you know this one)

faucet                                 tap (and now you know why it’s called “tap water”)

flashlight                           torch

fries                                     chips

chips                                    crisps

garbage                              rubbish

gasoline                             petrol

hood                                   bonnet (this applies to cars as well as headwear)

jello                                     jelly

license plate                    number plate

pajamas                             pyjamas

Scotch tape                      Sellotape

sneakers                            trainers

soccer                                 football (and most of the rest of the world calls it football, too)

stove                                   cooker

subway                              underground

tire                                       tyre

trunk                                   boot (referring to a car)

vacation                             holiday

vest                                      waistcoat

windshield wiper           windscreen wiper

yard                                      garden

zipper                                   zip

Until next time! Use the right words!

February 21, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Does Your City Need A State/Country?

When writing names of cities, one might wonder if he/she needs to include a state after it.

The rule is simple: The more familiar the city’s name, the less likely it needs a state or country.

U.S. cities such as New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Miami and Dallas don’t require a state because it’s understood that enough people know these cities are  in New York, California, Illinois, Georgia, California, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Florida and Texas, respectively.

Similarly, cities such as London, Paris, Berlin, Madrid, Moscow, Jerusalem, Cairo, Shanghai and Tokyo need no countries because enough people know these are in England, France, Germany, Spain, Russia, Israel, Egypt, China and Japan, respectively.

The problems arise when you have cities that few have heard, such as Lubbock or Palmdale or Davenport. Do enough people know these are in Texas, California and Iowa, respectively? Probably not.

What about Birmingham, Athens or St. Petersburg? Are they in Alabama, Georgia and Florida, or are they in England, Greece and Russia? You need a city or country with cities such as these.

There’s no shame in needing/not needing a qualifying city/state. It just means you’re smaller but no less special.

Until next time! Use the right words!

June 19, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

21 Reasons Why English Can Be So Difficult

Today, I simply repost something that I received: 21 correct sentences — despite the cliche in No. 7 and the repeated words in Nos. 2 and 9 — that clearly demonstrate English is a difficult language to master, and how lucky we are if it’s our native tongue.

What’s your favorite? Any of these a pet peeve? Let me know.Comments welcomed.

1) The bandage was wound around the wound.

2) The farm was used to produce produce.

3) The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.

4) We must polish the Polish furniture.

5) He could lead if he would get the lead out.

6) The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.

7) Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.

8) A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.

9) When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.

10) I did not object to the object.

11) The insurance was invalid for the invalid.

12) There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.

13) They were too close to the door to close it.

14) The buck does funny things when the does are present.

15) A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line.

16) To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.

17) The wind was too strong to wind the sail.

18) After a number of injections my jaw got number.

19) Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear.

20) I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.

21) How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend.

Thanks to Aish N. for the link.

Until next time! Use the right words!

June 7, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

“Whose” Line Is It Anyway? “Who’s” Asking?

Too often, we fail to see the exception for the rule (as opposed to the forest for the trees). Today’s example: who’s/whose.

As we know, very often in English a word with an apostrophe-s  after it denotes possessive: Obama’s cabinet, a worker’s pay, a cynic’s lack of belief, etc. A notable exception is it’s, which is a contraction of it is. The possessive form is its — no apostrophe.

It’s the same with who’s: it means who is. The possessive is whose.

Fortunately, a British improvisation show that Drew Carey later brought to American audiences helped everyone understand the difference and made a star out of Wayne Brady.

Having seen the show taped twice (including this one) and having seen Ryan Stiles perform improv live while the show was just in Britain, I’m partial to him.

Until next time! Use the right words!


April 30, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Did I Just Take a “Trip,” “Vacation” or “Holiday?”

I’m back from Las Vegas — poorer but more relaxed. So, how would I describe my jaunt to the light pollution capital of the world?

It obviously was a trip. One of that word’s many definitions is “to make a journey.”

But was it also a vacation? And what about the oh-so-British holiday?

As always, I checked the dictionary. The fourth definition of vacation read, “a period spent away from home or business in travel or recreation.” But my dictionary did not list vacation and trip as synonyms. It wasn’t until deep in the second page of — the 15th entry — that I found trip as a synonym for vacation. I never did find vacation listed as a synonym for trip after 50 entries. So, I’m not sure saying I took a vacation is correct.

My stepsister lives in England, so when she comes to visit, she’s on holiday. Out of curiosity, I checked my American dictionary and found as the third definition “chiefly Brit. a period of relaxation; vacation.”

So, if any non-Brit says to me, “I’m on holiday,” I’ll understand. I’ll be confused by the lack of appropriate accent, but I’ll know you mean you’re on vacation.

Until next time! Use the right words!

December 27, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Table Tennis By Any Other Name

I fondly remember the late 1970s-early 1980s as, among other things, a time when it seemed everybody, my family included, played table tennis in their garages. Oh, the balls slamming and the serves spinning — I can still hear the sounds of paddle on ball and ball on table.

Of course, most of us, again myself included, rarely called the game table tennis. We called it ping-pong or pingpong.

Which is correct? The answer comes courtesy of It cites the International Table Tennis Federation as saying the name “table tennis” first appeared as a board and dice game in 1887. John Jacques registered Ping-Pong as a trade name in England in 1901, and Parker Brothers bought the rights from him that same year. Also in 1901, The Table Tennis Association and The Ping-Pong Association formed. They merged in 1903 and died out in 1904.

The game saw a revival in the 1920s, and people used the term table tennis to get around Parker Brothers’ trademark. Today, the serious players still call the game table tennis; the more recreational players and Chinese professionals use ping-pong. But since that name remains trademarked (Hasbro now holds it), people write pingpong as a generic term.

Spell it “T-A-B-L-E  T-E-N-N-I-S” to avoid Hasbro’s wrath.

Until next time! Use the right words!




February 6, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How Often Do You Hold an Event?

This is an Olympic year, meaning the Olympic Games will be held, this time in London. Writers often refer to the Olympics as a “quadrennial” event. Sometimes you see “quadrannial” or “quadrannual” event.

Only one is correct:  Quadrennial means that an event occurs every four years.

The other two aren’t even words.

The rule is the same with biennial, which means an event happens every two years. to refresh: the prefix quad- means “four” and the prefix bi- means “two.”

However, while “quadannual” is not a word, biannual is, and it means “twice a year.” Semiannual is a synonym.

Always remember to watch your Bs and Qs (bi’s and quads).

Until next time! Use the right words!

January 9, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


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