usingtherightwords

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How to Spell Fish and Potato


Easter was Sunday, so I thought now would be a great time for a spelling lesson, courtesy of the Internet.

How do you spell fish? Ghoti.

Gh pronounced “f” as in enough, O pronounced as “i” in women, Ti pronounced “sh” in nation or motion.

Next, spell potato. Ghoughphtheightteeau.

Gh pronounced “p” as in hiccough, ough pronounced “o” as in dough, phth pronounced “t” as in phthisis, eigh pronounced “a” as in neighbor, tte pronounced “t” as in gazette and  eau pronounced “o” as in plateau.

Ain’t English grand?

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com

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April 3, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Here’s to Your Healthy?


Last week, Jews around the world celebrated Rosh Hashanah, the new year. A Jewish networking group I belong to, JNET, sent out greetings, wishing me “a Health and Happy New Year.”

Now, I know happiness and good health are important, but so is good spelling, and I know people like to wish others a healthy and happy new year.

It’s what I prefer. I also wouldn’t prefer somebody raising a glass and saying, “Here’s to your healthy.”

This weekend, Jews will observe Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. To show sincerity and a true desire to repent, many people fast on this day. I will, too, but I hope nobody says to me, “May you have an ease fast.”

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com

September 26, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How Do You (Mis)Spell…?


It’s Spelling Bee time! Following are a few words that you or someone you know might have misspelled but will no longer because you or that someone you know is reading this:

demagogue — In ancient times, it meant a leader who stood up for the common man. Now, it means a leader who uses false promises, false claims and popular prejudices to achieve power. It is NOT spelled demagog.

dependent — not dependant

exorcise — We who remember the 1971 book or the 1973 film “The Exorcist” know that the word is not spelled with a z. So, it’s not exorcize or exorcizt.

gray — It’s the color. Grey is a last name of a man (Joel) who is one of the few to win a Tony and Oscar for the same role (bonus points if you can name the role).

light-year — It’s always hyphenated. Lightyear is the last name of a toy that goes to infinity and beyond.

menswear — not men’s wear

milquetoast — This is not a word I see too often. It means “a timid, meek or unassertive person.” Capitalize the name and you have a comic strip character. But never call it milk toast. To me, milk toast is a doughnut (not donut).

questionnaire —  double-n, not questionaire

seesaw — not see-saw

ukulele — It’s spelled correctly, and it’s a pretty easy word to spell once you remember it’s uku and it’s lele.

How well did you do? Did you win the Bee?

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com

September 13, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Will You Get Drunk on “Whiskey” or “Whisky” This Holiday Season?


I have returned from a week in Washington DC ready to use more right words.

Although I visited DC, I actually stayed outside the city, in National Harbor, Md. Near my condo was a tasting room, announcing it had “whiskies and wines” available.

I stayed away for several reasons. One, I don’t drink. Two, I don’t have the money to spend on something I don’t do. Three, the word whiskies was misspelled, and I believe that one spelling mistake damages your credibility. If you misspell a word on a résumé, its destination is File 13. So why would I want to patronize an establishment that doesn’t know how to spell what it serves?

The correct word is whiskey. Its plural is whiskeys. Sometimes, you might see whisky. That is only to be used with “scotch.”

When you drink, drink responsibly. When you spell, spell correctly.

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com

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

I’ll take “Confusing Words that Start with A,” Alex


This is NOT Jeopardy! But this is a place to learn about using the right words (duh! It’s the name of the blog!)

Here are 10 a-letter words that throw people off their game, make them pause and check a dictionary to see if they’ve spelled them correctly.

able-bodied — it’s an adjective

aboveboard — it means “in a straightforward manner.” Above board means you are positioned higher than a piece of wood.

absent-minded –– it’s an adjective that often describes professors played by Fred MacMurray, Robin Williams  (film versions) and Harry Anderson (TV version)

accommodate — double-c and double-m

acknowledgment — I never forget this one because when I participated in a spelling bee in sixth grade, the word given me was “acknowledged.” I heard “acknowledge” and spelled that word correctly, only to be disqualified and finish seventh.

ad-lib — it’s hyphenated whether you use it as a noun, verb or adjective

admissible — not admissable

aka — “also known as” takes no punctuation

a la carte — it’s three words in all uses

amok — not amuck

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com

October 13, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I Am Not “Reluctant” to Add “Reticent” to Your Vocabulary


We have four types of vocabularies: our speaking, listening, writing and reading. The first vocabulary we develop is the listening one. We as babies hear words and learn to associate those words with objects and actions. The speaking vocabulary follows, and it’s the smallest of the four. With our education comes the writing and reading vocabularies, and we plateau as college graduates with about 17,000 words in our vocabularies.

I bring this up because I introduce a word most people don’t use, but now they can. It’s reticent, and it means “unwilling to speak.”

I bring up reticent because people usually use reluctant instead. Reluctant means “unwilling to act.” So you can’t be reluctant to speak, unless you consider speaking an act. Some probably do. I don’t.

So the next time you’re reluctant to learn a new word, don’t be reticent.

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com

September 20, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

More Words You Must Never Use


It’s time to list more words that people use but shouldn’t because they’re showing their ignorance/stupidity/lack of education/good sense by misusing them either while speaking or writing. You don’t want to sound like your IQ is 32, do you?

To quote the late, great George Carlin, using these words will “infect your soul, curve your spine, and keep the country from winning the war.” Of course, Carlin meant seven other words when he said that, but I like the sentiment.

ain’t — It’s not a contraction. Heck, it isn’t even a word. You sound so unintelligent when you use it. Better to use are not, aren’t, is not or isn’t.

donut — I don’t care if this word has become an acceptable spelling for the word doughnut, it’s doughnut.

emcee/MC — Unless you mean rapper MC Hammer or the character in “Cabaret,” spell it out: master/mistress of ceremonies or simply host.

enquire — My dictionary lists this as a variation of inquire or inquiry. I say that unless you refer to the national tabloid (and add an “r” to the end), don’t use it.

forcible rape –– This is redundant. Rape is always forcible.

fortnight — It refers to a two-week period, but unless you’re referring to the Wimbledon tennis tournament, use two weeks. You’ll sound less pretentious.

in spite of — Use despite because it means the same thing and is shorter. As I’ve said, why use three words when one works?

noncontroversial — There’s no such thing as a noncontroversial issue. The issue is either controversial or it’s not.

towards — No such word, so there’s no “moving towards the light.” It’s moving toward the light.

whitepaper — Whether you’re describing a color of paper or a special report, it’s two words.

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com

September 13, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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