Category: Definitions

Everyday vs. Every Day

Posted on Friday, January 22, 2021, at 9:00 am

You have probably seen the word everyday and the phrase every day used interchangeably. You might have wondered which is correct in a sentence, as well as how you can use it more accurately. We’ll help you answer those questions. Everyday vs. Every Day: The Basics The single word everyday is an adjective describing an …

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Me Either vs. Me Neither: Which Is Better?

Posted on Monday, January 18, 2021, at 9:00 am

You have probably come across the phrases me either and me neither in both writing and conversation. Have you ever wondered which is correct? Let’s look at the grammar behind these expressions. Note that unlike pairs such as either vs. neither, these two phrases don’t have precise meanings. Although widely used, they are idiomatic as …

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Either vs. Neither

Posted on Friday, January 15, 2021, at 9:00 am

Have you ever wondered whether either or neither is the right word to use when you’re writing or speaking? Either and neither are similar words, but they have separate meanings. Let’s review either vs. neither and consider a few examples. When to Use Either The word either separates two choices, outcomes, or possibilities: We could …

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Are Euphemisms Useful?

Posted on Tuesday, December 1, 2020, at 11:00 pm

Governments, businesses, and private people alike often look to soften an idea they think may hurt, offend, or dishearten another. For that reason, they develop and use alternate phrasing intended to sugarcoat certain connotations. For example, a company reducing staff is not "firing people"; it is "downsizing." People aren't "poor"; they are "economically disadvantaged." We …

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Restoring the Meanings of Misused Words

Posted on Tuesday, November 10, 2020, at 11:00 pm

Words give us an array of ways to express what we're thinking or feeling with boldness or nuance. The more we use them in the proper context according to their definitions, the more settled they become in our eloquence. Within American English, some words continue to operate as people wearing another's attire. One can ponder …

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Clipping Syllables to Sizes We Like

Posted on Tuesday, October 27, 2020, at 11:00 pm

The two following excerpts express the same thing. Which might you rather read or listen to? Today I went to the doctor's office for an exam because I thought I might be getting the flu. I skipped going to the gym after that. I stopped for gas and went home. Beth wanted me to help …

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Expressing Possession of Gerunds

Posted on Tuesday, October 13, 2020, at 11:00 pm

A gerund is the present participle (-ing) form of a verb functioning as a noun in a sentence. Example: He responded by laughing. (The gerund "laughing" is the noun object of the preposition "by.") A gerund phrase is a gerund plus another element such as an adverb, an adjective, or a noun. Example: Saving money …

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Abbreviation, Acronym, or Initialism: Fixing (not Mixing) Identity

Posted on Tuesday, September 1, 2020, at 11:00 pm

American English often applies ways to shorten words and phrases for convenience and economy. This is particularly true in business, government, the military, and perhaps even more so now in texting and social media. For those with an interest in grammar, the question can become whether we are using an abbreviation, an acronym, or an …

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Idiom: The DNA of Cliché

Posted on Tuesday, August 4, 2020, at 11:00 pm

We recently revisited the subject of the cliché, which dictionary.com defines as "a trite, stereotyped expression; a sentence or phrase, usually expressing a popular or common thought or idea, that has lost originality, ingenuity, and impact by long overuse." All clichés begin as idioms, which are "expressions whose meanings are not predictable from the usual …

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Some Confusing Words

Posted on Tuesday, July 28, 2020, at 11:00 pm

We have many words in the English language that have subtle differences between them. If you know these differences, you will be confident that you are conveying the meaning you intend. The five sets of confusing words we will cover today are: Adverse vs. Averse Uninterested vs. Disinterested Suppose vs. Supposed Oriented vs. Orientated Democratic Party vs. Democrat Party Adverse vs. Averse Adverse = unfavorable or antagonistic in …

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A Midsummer’s Musing on Miscellany

Posted on Tuesday, July 21, 2020, at 11:00 pm

Our regular readers might note that our study of American English periodically includes smaller but still noteworthy items we collect from research and reader correspondence. It's been several months since our last musings on miscellany, so we thought we'd return for more as we approach midsummer 2020. (To review miscellany from the past two years, …

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To Restrict or Not to Restrict: That Is the Question

Posted on Tuesday, July 7, 2020, at 11:00 pm

Who, that, or which; restrictive or non-restrictive: Most of us have at some point had to grapple with interpretation, pronoun choice, and punctuation for a statement containing essential or non-essential information. For example, what would be succinct within the following statements? Jayla always orders the surf and turf that the master chef prepares for her. …

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The Dictionary Definition of Racism

Posted on Tuesday, June 16, 2020, at 11:00 pm

Just as public support for the Black Lives Matter movement and nationwide protests over police violence are moving Americans toward positive social changes, so too do they reveal an inadequacy in how we have defined racism. We've written frequently about how the meanings of words change over time. The prescriptivists among us tend to hold …

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Exchanging English Over the Pond: U.S. and U.K. Part II

Posted on Tuesday, May 26, 2020, at 11:00 pm

Part I of our discussion of U.S. and Commonwealth English focused on word spellings between the dialects. In Part II, we’ll review variances in vocabulary. Understanding how the U.S. and the U.K. approach the naming of words is a great opportunity to embrace the richness of our shared language. Stateside, we enjoy and appreciate how …

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Similes and Metaphors

Posted on Tuesday, May 19, 2020, at 11:00 pm

Simile A form of expression using like or as, in which one thing is compared to another which it only resembles in one or a small number of ways. Examples: Her hair was like silk. She sings like an angel. He runs like a gazelle. This meat is as dry as a bone. Metaphor A …

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