Thursday, September 6, 2007

Today: Words

I'm always amazed, when I read other writers' works, how many words are misused. I can;t beoieve they slip past the editors, copy editors, and proofreaders. Like, in one quite excellent book, the author kept talking about "The yolk of slavery," which gave me an great image of slaves with eggs all over their heads but I think was not what the author had in mind. It's "Yoke" in that sense, my dear.

So today, for your edification (and to take out some of my frustrations), here are some commonly misused words and their definitions.

Nauseated Vs. Nauseous.
Nauseated is how you feel after you eat something bad, or when you have the flu. Nauseous is something disgusting. So you might be nauseated after eating a nauseous mess of porridge. You don;t feel nauseous; that would mean you;re likely to make someone sick. Well, I've known a few people like that.

Aggravated Vs. Irritated
You're irritated with a person. A condition is aggravated by something. You might be irritated because the cream your doctor prescribed aggravated the boils on your bum. You are not aggravated. Your skin, however, might be irritated as a result of the aggravation. (Thanks to Robbie Merliss, O.D. for this one)

Venemous Vs. Poisonous
Something is venemous if it bites you and you get sick. Something is poisonous if you bite IT and you get sick. So snakes are venemous, not poisonous (unlesss you happen to eat bad snake meat and become nauseated).

Whence, Hence, Thence etc.
I'm always amazed at how often I see these misused. Whence means "from where." So saying "From Whence..." is redundant. Likewise hence means "from here" and thence means "from there." You don;t need the "from to be stated again when using any of these words, even if you think it sounds better. It's just wrong. Their relations, whither, hither and thither are similar. Whither means "To where." Hither means "to here." Thither means "to there." So you don;t need to say "to whither are you going?" It's redundant. please try to remember this one as it drives me bananas.

Wherefore means "why." Juliet says "Wherefore art thou Romeo?" because she's wondering why he has to be who he is, NOT because she's wondering where he's got to.

Its vs. It's
Another of my pet peeves. Its (no apostrophe) is the possesive of the pronoun "It." It's means "it is" or sometimes "it has." Remember: It's a shame that the cat lost its collar. If you can't replace one word with two, there's no call for the apostrophe.

Lie vs. Lay
lie is an intrasitive verb. this means it does not take an object. Lay is a transitive verb. this means it DOES take an object, always. You LIE down. A hen LAYS an egg.

And that's enough instruction for today. I hope you have found the above useful and informative!

1 comment:

Pd1-shandy-ca said...

I found this blog to be quite useful.
Thank you for the correct definitions and examples!