usingtherightwords

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You Can’t Cancel Christmas


The other day, I heard my favorite morning radio talk show hosts, Heidi and Frank, take a call from someone who, as a child, misbehaved enough that the parents took down all the Christmas decorations and returned the presents. The caller said her parents “canceled Christmas.”

Cancel means, in this sense, “to call off, usually without expectation of conducting or performing at a later time.”

But you can’t cancel Christmas. It comes every Dec. 25, no matter what.

What you can do, however, is cancel the celebration associated with the day, and that’s what the caller meant.

Too bad that’s not what she said.

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com

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December 6, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Happy Labor Day! Are You Working?


We celebrate Labor Day in the United States today. It’s a national holiday to celebrate the labor movement and achievements of the American worker.

Yet most of us don’t work on Labor Day. This reminds me of the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, in which the four ministries are named for the exact opposite of what they stand for. The Ministry of Peace supports war. The Ministry of Plenty concerns itself with rationing and often dwindling supplies. The Ministry of Love is all about arrests and torture, and the Ministry of Truth spews propaganda.

Labor Day should be a day in which we work. After all, one of the many definitions of labor is “human activity that provides the goods or services in an economy.” I don’t think sitting on our butts watching television or relaxing by the pool or camping is really helping the economy or is even laboring.

At least I worked today, if only for the length of time it took to research and write this.

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com

 

September 2, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What Do You Call April 1?


I actually know people who call April 1 “my birthday,” but those aren’t the people I’m trying to reach.

My intended audience is those who play tricks on someone or who are tricked on April 1.

First, the name of the day is April Fools’ Day. Notice the apostrophe.

Therefore, the name isn’t April Fool’s Day and it isn’t April Fools Day.

If you play a trick that succeeds, you had better shout, “April Fool!” and not “April Fools!”

But in some societies, if your trick is after midday, be prepared to hear, “April Fools’ is past and gone. You’re the fool and I am none.”

I wish I knew that saying when I was a child. It would have saved me much aggravation.

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com

 

April 1, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

“Clean up” the “Cleanup” on Aisle 4!


With the end of the holiday season comes the need to put one’s house literally back in order. Remove the ornaments, throw away the tree, take down the lights, vacuum the pine needles, compose the thank-you notes, pay the higher power bills, etc.

In short, it’s time for the post-holiday cleaning. It’s also time to be reminded of which word or words to use.

Clean up is the verb. Cleanup is the noun. No hyphen needed.

Only 90 days or so until “Spring Cleaning.”

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com

January 3, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Not-So-Happy New Years


Happy New Year! Or should I cringe if I hear somebody shout “Happy New Years?”

Thankfully, no one uttered that malapropism last night at my party. But I have heard it before, usually from small children or drunks.

It’s really simple. If you brought in 2012 with gleeful shouts of “Happy New Years,” you should have been ready to name which years: the current, past or future years?

Similarly, if you meant “Happy New Year’s,” you should have informed your gathering which New Year’s possession you wished happiness. Was it New Year’s Day? New Year’s baby? the just-concluded New Year’s Eve?

Stick with the singular and enjoy the present year.

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com

January 1, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Black-Friday Secret Retailers Don’t Want You to Know


When I was a child, the day after Thanksgiving was called … the day after Thanksgiving. It wasn’t called “Black Friday” or anything else. To me, “Black (day of the week)” refers to some disaster, such as the 1929 Stock Market Crash (“Black Tuesday”) not a day in which retailers end up “in the black.”

But I digress. This entry is about the secret retailers don’t want you to know.

Here it is: When retailers trumpet that you can save 70 percent or whatever amount, it’s a lie.

You’re not saving anything. You’re spending less.

The word save has many definitions, but the one that matters in this case is “to put aside money.” That inherently means not to spend any money. As soon as you plunk down your cash or credit card for that purchase, you’re no longer saving. Because of the discounts you’re getting today, you’re simply spending less. A great deal less, sometimes, but less just the same.

In other words, SAVE UP TO 75%!!!! is a marketing ploy to get you to part with your money. You’re spending 75% less, but you’re not saving.

To those who argue that the 25% you’re not spending is what you’re saving, I ask you: Aren’t you going to spend that money later on something else?

Don’t misunderstand, I’m not suggesting you not hit the stores today. There are bargains galore. Just don’t think you’re saving anything.

I’ll bet you’re not saving time waiting in long lines.

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com

November 25, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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