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Misused homonyms, etc
things that get past a spell checker

 8:11 pm on Sep 28, 2001 (gmt 0)

I'm compiling a list of pitfall words in the English language -- and for some reason, copy on the web is rife with examples (not RIPE with examples). In most cases, a spell check won't catch a misuse. Even Word's grammar check can miss them, depending on the sentence.

Some of my pet peeves in business writing:

A moot point is one that is merely academic and not practical, or (less commonly today) one that is still open to discussion.
Something is mute if it makes no sound.

Take a different tack [take a different approach]
Use more tact [be diplomatic]

For all intents and purposes
NOT "For all intensive purposes." This phrase is a horrid cliche, IMO, but if we "must" use it, it should be used correctly.

The principal taught us many principles when he re-invested our retirement fund's principle.

Only "principal" is also used as an adjective: This is our principal goal.

The drug affected the patient.
The drug had several side effects.
We would like to effect a change.

We will accept most contributtions, except for illegally acquired funds.

Let's elicit confessions of illicit behavior.


My own writing suffers from these problems as well. So, I'm wondering about:

1. Other common examples
2. Any software or other work-flow methods devoted to catching these little corruptions. When they slip through they can really make a site sound illiterate.



 9:07 pm on Nov 8, 2001 (gmt 0)

Waiting with BATED breath is somewhat akin to waiting while holding your breath... waiting with BAITED breath is somewhat akin to waiting while eating sushi.


 10:20 pm on Nov 8, 2001 (gmt 0)

>>waiting with BAITED breath

When you're ice fishing, you've got do put your worms somewhere to keep 'em warm. Just ask some of our northern friends - Macguru or Mivox ferinstance. :)



 10:35 pm on Nov 8, 2001 (gmt 0)

Sorry to disappoint lawman, but I'm one of those modern-type Alaskans who's an unabashed slave to the supermarket and sushi bar when it comes to my fish acquisition needs. Don't even own a fishing pole.

For future reference: I also do not own a furry coat, a dog sled, an igloo or a pet walrus. ;)


 3:19 pm on Nov 10, 2001 (gmt 0)

At the risk of appearing pedantic (but presumably that is the point) "she is much more thorough and easier on the eyes than I" should be "she is much more thorough and easier on the eyes than me"


 4:33 pm on Nov 10, 2001 (gmt 0)

I stand by my version of the Queen's English, Farthing. Complete the sentence with the proper verb and you will see what I'm talking about. she is much more thorough and easier on the eyes than I am.

Of course I am willing to admit that I don't know proper subject/verb usage in Ireland, but saying she is much more thorough and easier on the eyes than me am still doesn't sound right.

How about it Mivox, who's correct?



 5:25 pm on Nov 10, 2001 (gmt 0)

Lawman, you may well be correct in the pedantic sense, and since I introduced that then I have to concede. However consider the shortened sentence "She is better at that than me" is ordained by usage and is less awkward than "She is better at that than I". But of course if usage were the arbiter then it would be "Your correct"!


 7:28 pm on Nov 10, 2001 (gmt 0)

If I've said it once, I've said it a hundred times (in the W M W forum no less), I is a college graduate.

P.S. Let's turn the sentence around and really tweak it: Me is better at it than her is. :)


 10:30 pm on Nov 10, 2001 (gmt 0)

I agree, "I am better at it than she" is technically correct.


 12:46 am on Nov 11, 2001 (gmt 0)

My #1 pet peeve: lose versus loose. You lose a race. You tie the rope loose. So many smart people get this wrong that I expect to see loose show up as an alternative spelling for lose in the dictionary soon.

Another pet peeve: you cannot modify unique. There is no very unique, totally unique, absolutely unique: it's either unique or it isn't.

A female friend's peeve: the use of woman, as in woman driver. It's female driver.


 10:35 am on Nov 12, 2001 (gmt 0)

I've found that "then" is often subtituted for "than". Could it be the way it's pronounced in some places?


 1:53 pm on Nov 12, 2001 (gmt 0)

One of the problems with the English language is that there is no gender non-specific singular personal pronoun. This results in 'they' being used as a substitute. E.g. "While my back was turned,
a person went out through the door. Then I heard footsteps as they went down the path."

Another thing that bothers me is the use of a plural verb with a singular noun. There is a tendency to say "The Government are going to do this" rather than "The Government is going to do this".

And, finally, just to prove that I really am being obsessive, split infinitives set my teeth on edge, however sentences ending in prepositions don't really bother me, though I do prefer to use the possessive case of the personal pronoun with the present participle.


 6:06 pm on Nov 12, 2001 (gmt 0)

Ending a sentence in a preposition joke:

A: What are you staring at?

B: You know, you really shouldn't end a sentence with a preposition.

C: Oh yeah; what are you staring at a**h**e.


 6:17 pm on Nov 12, 2001 (gmt 0)

Or as a famous warmonger once put it 'Ending a sentence with a preposition is something up with which we will not put'.


 7:10 pm on Nov 12, 2001 (gmt 0)

>> "woman driver"

The battle is already lost. Merriam Webster's online dictionary lists woman as an adjective as well as a noun.

>> e-trade, e-business, e-commerce

e-trade: an online financial transaction (stocks, futures, banking)
e-business: an online business interaction that is internal to an enterprise or between a company and its business partners
e-commerce the public sale of goods and services online


 9:07 pm on Nov 27, 2001 (gmt 0)

Received a great spam mail this week. The subject asked if I wanted to "meat" my ideal partner.


 4:13 pm on Jan 18, 2002 (gmt 0)

I just had to share this one. From BeerAdvocate.com [beeradvocate.com]:

André Dion and Serge Racine saw the potential in the craft brewing industry and made a move by purchasing outstanding shares of an almost defunked brewery in 1990.

I wonder if they ever removed all the funk, or if some of it remains to give their beer extra character.


 4:55 pm on Jan 18, 2002 (gmt 0)

I can't believe I missed this thread the first time...AND that these weren't mentioned

" I will compliment (praise) you on your beauty if only because it complements (makes complete) my own."

assure/insure/ensure (granted, these can be used interchangeably, but it really bugs me when they are):
"I assure (remove any doubt) you that I can ensure (make sure, certain) your future wealth if you insure (arrange insurance for) your spouse."

Michael Weir

 7:02 pm on Jan 18, 2002 (gmt 0)

Oh no it's high school (not hi school) English all over again! Contribution is commonly mispelled as contributtion - did anybody catch this above? :) I've a friend who, when sending me emails, will say "of coarse" - as in "The animals fur was of a coarse nature" when the context she uses the word is, "Of course I said no!"

Also, seems and seams...


 7:33 pm on Jan 18, 2002 (gmt 0)

This topic has sent me to an online dictionary several times. One of the niceties of an online dictionary is that it can also include sound files for pronunciation -- the Merriam Webster [m-w.com] website has been a big help to me in this way.

>> .. no gender non-specific singular personal pronoun.

"They" actually IS the gender non-specific personal pronoun in English. It's the way people actually speak. According to MW:

The use of they, their, them, and themselves as pronouns of indefinite gender and indefinite number is well established in speech and writing, even in literary and formal contexts.

"And every one to rest themselves betake" -- William Shakespeare
"I would have everybody marry if they can do it properly." -- Jane Austen
"It is too hideous for anyone in their senses to buy." -- W. H. Auden
"No man goes to battle to be killed -- but they do get killed" -- G. B. Shaw

I know I prefer to read "they", rather than some odd expression which draws my attention to words themselves and away from meaning. For instance, "s/he" is an abomination, and using "she" alone is just plain silly in many situations.

The strange thing here is that generations of English speech and writing had the solution, but today it's being undermined.


 7:41 pm on Jan 18, 2002 (gmt 0)

>> .. no gender non-specific singular personal pronoun.
"They" actually IS the gender non-specific personal pronoun in English.

One also works. "What should one do in a strange situation like this?" It fits in some strange places where they really doesn't sound right.


 8:34 pm on Jan 18, 2002 (gmt 0)

memento - a reminder

momento - usually follows uno



 8:48 pm on Jan 18, 2002 (gmt 0)

I came home from a State Bar Meeting bragging to my wife about being called a "model trial attorney" by some of my peers. She asked me if I'd ever looked "model" up; I admitted I hadn't. When she wasn't around, I got out Webster's to look up "model", and there it was, big as life:

model: a small copy or imitation of the real thing.


P.S. To all of my English friends and readers, that was a joke (self-deprecating humor). However, I understand that NFFC might want proof that it's not true ;)


 9:42 pm on Jan 18, 2002 (gmt 0)

>non-specific personal pronoun in English

This can be one of the hardest things for non English speakers to grasp. My experience is of course teaching to Chinese where "Ta" = he, she, it and they. Ta is written differently but pronounced the same which is why they (third person plural) often use incorrect gender when speaking. Can create some very interesting and funny situations.



 2:11 am on Jan 19, 2002 (gmt 0)

Shouldn't this thread read :

"Things that get passed a spell chequer" ?


 4:07 am on Jan 19, 2002 (gmt 0)

Which reminds me
passed past

I passed first grade but my misspellings don't get past a spell chequer. :)


 4:11 am on Jan 19, 2002 (gmt 0)

>did't get past a spell chequer

does that make you an exchequer?
Sorry, coudn't resist...


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