usingtherightwords

Guaranteed to improve your English

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.

leebarnathan.com

Advertisements

October 6, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Spamity-Spam! Wonderful Spam!


Like so many people, I get more than my fair share of email spam. Because of the way my email is set up, I have to go into each piece to unsubscribe. This does’t seem to lessen the amount of spam I get, so I keep unsubscribing.

But every once in awhile, I find something that truly deserves the name spam.

In two separate emails, one touting a way to cut your energy bills to $1.50 a day like it’s done in the Philippines and Korea (if you believe it) and one explaining why President Obama won’t finish his second term (anybody getting these, too?), I found this sentence:

This is spreading like wild fire all over the internet. Make sure you watch the
presentation until it’s over, because the end will blow your mind!

I don’t know about you, but I think fire is always wild. Even when you think fire is under control (and there are such things as “controlled burns” to try and stop fire from spreading), it can get out of control very fast.

Besides, the word is misspelled. I think the only thing spreading like wildfire are these emails.

Also, how does someone blow your mind? Does he or she blow into your ear (I think there’s a blonde joke in here somewhere)? Does he or she make you put dynamite, exploding cigar or bomb in your mouth that then detonates (I think there’s a Bugs Bunny cartoon in here somewhere)?

Besides, the phrase is a cliché, and clichés make your writing less academic, less intelligent and less interesting if you need to fall back on trite words or phrases.

Kind of like the people who send these emails — the same people who don’t know Internet is capitalized.

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com

June 23, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Truth About “Obamacare”


At the risk of getting political, I’m writing about  health-care law.

At a recent networking meeting, a member in the insurance business said something that amazed me: Ask people about “Obamacare” and they say negative things about it. But ask people about the Affordable Care Act and they’re much more positive.

There’s just one problem: They are the same.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (commonly known as the Affordable Care Act) is the federal statute that President Obama championed and signed into law in 2010. Originally, those who opposed it derisively called it “Obamacare.”

Who that first person was is not clear: Some believe it was Mitt Romney back in 2007, but I’ve also seen Hillary Clinton’s election campaign given credit as well as lobbyist Jeanne Schulte Scott writing in the trade journal Healthcare Financial Management’s March 2007 issue:

The many would-be candidates for president in 2008 are falling over themselves offering their own proposals. We will soon see a “Giuliani-care” and “Obama-care” to go along with “McCain-care,” “Edwards-care,” and a totally revamped and remodeled “Hillary-care” from the 1990s.

Unfortunately, the derogatory moniker stuck. I say unfortunate because it’s correct to call it by its name, not its nickname — and because it’s a nickname is why I put “Obamacare” into quotation marks each time.

So, whether you like the law or not, call it by its name.

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com

 

November 6, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

 

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

For the Gun Lovers Out There


I don’t own a gun. I find guns dangerous yet I also believe that guns don’t kill people; people kill people. With guns, some of which are used only for killing (come on, you really think an AK-47, Sturmgewehr 44 or Uzi is for hunting?).

But I digress.

Today I was editing a book and came across this sentence: “Henceforth, you will remain in the cross hairs of an enraged Administration.”

Taken out of context, it can mean Obama’s coming to get you. And your guns. Word snobs like me will spot the cliché immediately. But I was struck by the words cross hairs. I always have been under the impression that the fine wires or threads in gun’s eyepiece or some other optical instrument was one word.

I looked it up. Two words.

How do you like that? My stereotypical image of Bubba “huntin’ me some ‘coon” or of Dick Cheney shooting at his friend has been destroyed. Gun owners know how to spell cross hairs, yet the guy who came in seventh in his sixth-grade Spelling Bee (and only because I heard the word wrong — I spelled acknowledge correctly) does not.

So raise your guns and salute. The Second Amendment lives!

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com

 

October 18, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Are you a Cynic or a Skeptic?


We’re taking a slightly political tone today. President Obama is here in Los Angeles talking jobs while unemployment hovers around 12 percent, second highest in the country. Meanwhile,  the Republican presidential hopefuls debate.

I hear people uttering sentences such as “My vote doesn’t count” and “It doesn’t matter because it’s all about the special interests.”

Are these people cynics or skeptics?

We freely use “cynical”  to describe someone who is or has been soured on something. But is that correct?

Look at the definitions. A cynic disbelieves.  A skeptic doubts.

So, are you a cynic or a skeptic? Or are you an optimist?

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com

September 27, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

%d bloggers like this: