usingtherightwords

Guaranteed to improve your English

Did Obama Really Say That?


As I listened to the news on the radio last week, the local CBS station promoted that weekend’s “60 Minutes” in which President Obama and outgoing Secretary of State Clinton sat down together for an interview. The station played a clip, and I thought I heard the president say,  “I think that Hillary will go down as one of the finest Secretary of States we’ve had.”

Wait a minute, I thought, did I really hear that correctly?

The day the segment aired, I heard the same promo. Again, the president said,  “I think that Hillary will go down as one of the finest Secretary of States we’ve had.”

The next day, I found the clip online, and once again the president said,  “I think that Hillary will go down as one of the finest Secretary of States we’ve had.”

Wikipedia also has made this mistake. I can understand that, but Obama? I couldn’t believe it, and still don’t. Here we have an incredibly bright, thoughtful and articulate man making a common mistake: Secretary of States.

The correct term is Secretaries of State.

It appeared that Obama forgot that you pluralize the subject. Just like with passers-by.

Clearly, the president thought of “Secretary of State” as one complete entity. But there are so many other secretaries in his cabinet (Defense, Interior, Treasury, Agriculture, Energy, Justice, Commerce, Labor, Transportation, Education, etc.). Also, of  is a preposition or adverb, and those parts of speech are not sentence subjects.

Obviously, there needs to be an additional cabinet position: Secretary of Using the Right Words.

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com

 

Advertisements

January 28, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Are Your “Discreet” or “Discrete”?


You can be both, but most of the time people want to use the word that means “judicious in one’s conduct or speech, especially with regard to respecting privacy or maintaining silence about something of a delicate nature.”

They want discreet.

Sometimes, however, people use the homonym discrete. This has nothing to do with proper conduct but has everything to do with “distinct or unconnected elements.”

A synonym of discreet is “cautious and sensible.”

A synonym of discrete is “distinct.”

Therefore, if you want to discretely tell someone something, it will be a bit tougher to do it privately — unless you want to be discreet about it.

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com

November 12, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

%d bloggers like this: