usingtherightwords

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NO, NO, NO!!!


Sometimes I get so angry. Why do people misspeak? Why do they use the wrong words? If they’d only hire me, I could fix their problems (and get paid regularly, which would make me happy).

Her financial advisor literally screwed her and took most of her money — NO, NO, NO!!! Her financial advisor figuratively screwed her and took most of her money. If it was literal, it would mean something different altogether.

Official unlicensed bootleg merchandise — NO, NO, NO!!! Merchandise can’t be official and unlicensed. Plus, unlicensed and bootleg could be synonymous.

One cockroach is a hundred too many — NO, NO, NO!!! One cockroach is one too many. A hundred cockroaches are a hundred too many. And so on.

Thank you for all the informative information — NO, NO, NO!!! That’s redundant.

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com

June 29, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

As Opposed to “Engaged to be Divorced?”


Last night at a networking meeting, someone stood up and proudly announced that his daughter was “engaged to be married.”

That got me thinking. Is that necessary? Is anyone ever “engaged to be divorced?”

My dictionary has six definitions for engaged. The second one: “pledged to be married.” So, what he really said was, “My daughter is pledged to be married to be married.” Redundant.

Other definitions include “involved in activity”  and “greatly interested,” so I suppose he could have said that his daughter was “engaged in planning a wedding,” but he didn’t — and no one would.

A person also could say that he or she is “engaged in finding a job,” “engaged in driving a car” or “engaged in watching TV.” While that would be correct, why use more words? “I’m job-hunting,” “I’m driving” and “I’m watching TV” suffices.

The same goes with “I’m engaged.” It’s understood that you’re talking about marriage.

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com

April 10, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Can You Be “A Little Bit Livid?”


I officiate several high school and youth sports, including volleyball. Today, a fellow official called to tell me about the playoff match he worked last night. He said I would have been “a little bit livid” because one team led two sets to none and had three match points before losing in five sets.

I would have been bothered that I wasn’t finishing so fast, but could I have been a little bit livid?

Livid means “very angry” and “enraged.” I don’t think anyone could be a little bit very angry or a little bit enraged. You either are or you aren’t.

But livid has other meanings as well: “discolored by bruising; black-and-blue,” “ashen; pallid” and “reddish.” I’m not sure you could be a little bit of any of these.

I know we tend to use “a little” to modify something we don’t think is whole. So, a little bit reddish would mean “lightly red.” But doesn’t reddish suffice? Aren’t you simply black-and-blue? You can have a little bruise but is it a little bit discolored?

Looking online, it appears my friend got it wrong. But in other instances, we can be a little bit livid in some instances, although a little bit is redundant to a little  or a bit.

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com

 

May 7, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Words You Must Never Use


Our wonderful language is so complete, it even has words that should never come out of your mouth or your writing utensil, unless you’re quoting someone, writing a book where a character uses one, or a style guide mandates its use.

Here are 10, with a better choice for each;

almost never — If you think about it, this is an impossibility. Nothing is almost never; it’s either never or it’s not. Better to use seldom or rarely. Hardly ever works, too, but why use two words when one will do?

both  — Generally speaking, both is redundant when you’re talking about two items: Both she and I are going. So you only need the two items.

irregardless — My dictionary says it’s probably a combination of irrespective and regardless. Either way, this is a double negative, and proper English doesn’t allow it. Use regardless.

future planning — It’s redundant. No one plans for the past or the present. You only need planning.

goodby — The Los Angeles Times uses this instead of goodbye, making it an example of a style guide taking precedence, but the word’s correct spelling has an e at the end. Otherwise, a person might think that you forgot to separate the words good and by, or forgot a letter when saying good buy.

deaf-mute — It’s better to say the person can’t hear or speak.

off of — It’s redundant.

past history — Also redundant.

prior to — Use before.

new record — Another redundancy that’s also a cliche. When the record it set or broken, it’s automatically a new record.

A reminder:  Derogatory words for a person’s nationality, skin color or religion are taboo. So I won’t repeat them here.

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com

August 1, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment