Having trouble viewing this message? Click here to view it online.

Right-click here to download pictures. Jane Straus

Welcome to your GrammarBook.com e-newsletter.

The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation has been a great blessing to me. Thank you so much for your wonderful and timely book. I teach English and have learned so much from your lessons. Many of my students have made positive comments about my grammar class.
—Sugu M.

Thank you for all the hard work that is put into the Grammar Blog and the GrammarBook.com website. When I was in school, I was not interested in proper English and writing. I now realize how important these skills are as we progress through life.
—Glen O.

I love the weekly e-newsletters and the services on your website. I plan to buy The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation.
—Sara M.

That’s What That Means?

I know many avid readers, and I wish I read as much as they do. But to my surprise, very few of them read with a dictionary on hand. When I ask why, the answer is some variation on “It ruins the mood” or “I want to relax, not study” or the most self-deluded one: “I can figure out most words from the context.”

As for that last one, I can only say that I myself have guessed wrong on a word’s meaning too often to count, and many times if I had gone with what I guessed and not bothered to look it up, I’d have gravely misunderstood some of the author’s fundamental premises—yes, the stakes are that high.

I can illustrate this with a simple example: “Joe inferred that the judge was disinterested.” There are many smart people who would take that sentence to mean, “Joe insinuated that the judge didn’t care.” Boy, would they be wrong.

The sentence actually means, “Joe decided that the judge was unbiased.” Huge difference there. Would you rather have a judge who’s fair or one who wants to go home? “Disinterested” means “impartial.” It does not mean “apathetic”—that would be an uninterested judge.

And because so many people mistakenly think infer is a synonym for imply, a reader might see “inferred” and think Joe was hinting at something, when in fact he had reached a conclusion.

If just a simple seven-word sentence can cause such a misunderstanding, imagine tackling difficult authors like Lawrence Durrell or William Faulkner. Without a dictionary nearby, what you get out of these writers’ books might be a far cry from what they actually wrote.

So here are a few words that may not mean what you think they mean. Misinterpreting a key word can distort the meaning of a sentence and set off a chain reaction of misunderstanding that leaves the reader with a message the author never dreamed of sending.

Livid When someone is “livid,” do you think of red, white, or blue? The best answer is blue, not red. “Livid” does not mean “red-faced with anger.” The Latin lividus means “of a bluish color.” Second-best answer is white: “livid” can be a synonym for “pale.”

Benighted “He was a benighted soul in an enlightened time.” Many people associate it with “knighted,” and think “benighted” is a good thing to be. Far from it. Note the lack of a k—don’t think “knight,” think “night.” A benighted soul is clueless, ignorant, “in a state of moral or intellectual darkness.”

Scarify is a benighted synonym for “terrify”—scarify has more to do with scar than scare. It means to scratch or make superficial incisions. It also has agricultural applications having to do with seeds and soil.

Meretricious When you hear it, the first two syllables echo “merit,” and the word resembles meritorious. The similarity ends there. It means “flashy,” “cheap,” “tawdry”: “The candidate made a meretricious display of piety.”

Tom Stern

Because of the e-newsletter’s large readership, please submit your comments or questions regarding today's (or any past) article through GrammarBook.com’s Grammar Blog

Free BONUS Quiz for You!

[[firstname]], because you are a subscriber to the newsletter, you get access to one of the Subscribers-Only Quizzes. Click here to take a Hyphens with ly Words Quiz and get your scores and explanations instantly! (Take care—this quiz has a few tricky questions!)

More Good News for Quiz Subscribers

We are pleased to announce that we have added even more quizzes to help you challenge yourself, your students, and your staff. We added quizzes to existing categories and created some new categories such as “Vocabulary,” “Spelling,” “Confusing Verbs,” “Subjunctive Mood,” “Comprise,” and “Sit vs. Set vs. Sat.”

We reviewed and strengthened every quiz on our website to ensure consistency with the rules and guidelines contained in our eleventh edition of The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation.

If you think you have found an error in a quiz, please email us at help@grammarbook.com.

Hundreds of Additional Quizzes at Your Fingertips

Hundreds of Quizzes

“GrammarBook's subscription quizzes opened a new door for me, a way to see exactly who is doing the work and who isn’t, and it is very convenient for the students.”

“So convenient … hundreds of quizzes in one click.”

[[firstname]], Subscribe to receive hundreds of English usage quizzes not found anywhere else!

  • Take the quizzes online or download and copy them.
  • Get scored instantly.
  • Find explanations for every quiz answer.
  • Reproduce the quizzes to your heart’s content.
  • EASY to use.
  • No software to download.
  • No setup time.
  • A real person to help you if you have any questions!

Instructors and Employers: we make your life easier!

  • Assign quizzes to your students or employees.
  • Students log in from anywhere.
  • Scores are tallied and compiled for you.
  • You decide whether to let students see their own scores and quiz explanations.
  • Let GrammarBook.com take the hassle out of teaching English!

“Fun to test my skills!”

“The explanations really help … thanks!”

Your choice: Subscribe at the $29.95 or $99.95 level ($30 off - previously $129.95).

“I download the quizzes for my students who don’t have computer access.”

Subscribe today to receive hundreds of English usage quizzes not found anywhere else!

“Makes learning English FUN!”


Don’t need all the quizzes at once?
You can now purchase the same quizzes individually for ONLY 99¢ each. Purchase yours here.

The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation

Get Yours Today!

Get Amazon’s No. 1 Best-seller in Four Categories!
No. 1 in Grammar
No. 1 in Reading
No. 1 in Lesson Planning
No. 1 in Vocabulary

The Blue Book of Grammar
and Punctuation

by Jane Straus, Lester Kaufman, and Tom Stern

The Authority on English Grammar!
Eleventh Edition Now Available

Have You Ordered Your Copy Yet?

An indispensable tool for busy professionals, teachers, students, homeschool families, editors, writers, and proofreaders.

Available in print AND as an e-Book! Over 2,000 copies are purchased every month!

Order Your Copy Today!

  • Hundreds of Grammar, Punctuation, Capitalization, and Usage Rules 
  • Real-World Examples
  • Spelling / Vocabulary / Confusing Words
  • Quizzes with Answers

The publisher of The Blue Book, Jossey-Bass, A Wiley brand, is offering a 35 percent discount for those of you who order the book through Wiley.com. Shipping and tax are not included. Simply go to bit.ly/1996hkA and use discount code E9X4A.

*Offer expires December 31, 2017.


68 One-Minute English Usage Videos

English In A Snap: 68 One-Minute English Usage Videos FREE 

Learn all about who and whom, affect and effect, subjects and verbs, adjectives and adverbs, commas, semicolons, quotation marks, and much more by just sitting back and enjoying these easy-to-follow lessons. Tell your colleagues (and boss), children, teachers, and friends. Click here to watch.

Forward this e-newsletter to your friends and colleagues.


If you received this FREE weekly e-newsletter from a friend, click here to have it sent to you each week.

Look for more Hot Tips from GrammarBook.com next week.

Miss a recent newsletter? Click here to view past editions.

Subscriber Log In Subscriber Benefits