It’s been a while since I had a rant about the various misuses of English that annoy me. I’ll see how many complaints I can fit in a 450-word column.
Onto isn’t a word. Irregardless isn’t a word. Their and there are very different words. So are two, too and to. Alright is not all right. Affect and effect are not interchangeable. Nothing can be “almost unique”. You don’t need “number” in PIN number. Or the “for” in for free.
Contemporary doesn’t mean modern, it means of the same period. Naught is nothing, nought is the figure 0. Nerve-racking, not wracking. Shorter versions of words are always better: disoriented, not disorientated; flammable, not inflammable.
Avoid tautologies such as true facts, close proximity, forward planning, and déjà vu all over again. “Brand new” is just new. Minuscule is the correct spelling, not miniscule. Never use “an” hotel or “an” historic. Cannot and can not have distinct meanings. So do anyway and any way. Under way is two words.
When you feel sick you aren’t nauseous, you are nauseated. Doughnuts not donuts. Duct tape, not duck tape. You don’t wait on a bus, you wait for a bus. Continuous and continual are not the same. Principal and principle are not the same. Discrete is individually separate, discreet is prudent. Torturous involves pain, tortuous has twists and turns.
The idiom is a change of tack not a change of tact. You don’t tow the line, you toe the line. You have specific problems, not pacific problems. A moot point is worth discussing, a mute point would be unable to speak. You’ve got another think coming, not “thing”. Derring-do is not daring-do. You get just deserts, not desserts.
I don’t care what any dictionary says, decimate is to reduce by one in 10 – modern usage as a synonym for “devastate” is wrong. Epicentre is not a start point or the middle of the middle. You cannot “literally laugh your head off”. It is impossible to give 110% effort. Never say “try and” it is “try to”.
Sewage is the stuff, sewerage is the apparatus that deals with it. A tic is a spasm, a tick is an arachnid not an insect. If you tell me you’ll “visit at 11 am, know what I mean?”, then yes, I do understand the concept of time – I just wish you hadn’t added that useless phrase.
Don’t mix metaphors, people will think you’re not the sharpest cookie in the jar. A hangar is for aircraft, hangers are for clothes. Murderers were hanged, pictures are hung. They say “hear-hear” in parliament, not “here-here”. A vacuum cleaner is not necessarily a Hoover.
Lastly, apostrophes do not belong in plurals. Pizza’s, cake’s, and roads unsuitable for HGV’s are all nonsense. Whoever inserted those apostrophes deserves a month in jail to ponder their errant ways.
Word of the week
The skin between the eyebrows. EG: “If you pinch your glabella and it doesn’t quickly regain its smoothness, you are probably dehydrated”.
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