Friday, October 30, 2009

Friday Fix: Literal vs. Figurative

Overheard: "I was so sick! I literally puked out my guts!"

Ew. Hope not.'s definition of literal:
"adjective 1. in accordance with, involving, or being the primary or strict meaning of the word or words; not figurative or metaphorical: the literal meaning of a word."

Now, contrast that with the definition figurative:
"adjective 1. of the nature of or involving a figure of speech, esp. a metaphor; metaphorical; not literal: a figurative expression."

Let's have a literal round of applause for! Er, wait. That means we'd be clapping our hands in a circular pattern. You know what I mean!

What the word violator--whose guts are no doubt still firmly intact-- meant was, "I was so sick that I figuratively puked out my guts!" Or "I was so sick that I felt like I was puking out my entire guts!" Or even, "I was like a fly, dizzy from spinning through the air, only to land on a potential morsel on which to expel my innards." Or not.

Okay. So now we see why most people (incorrectly) go with the first option, eh? Even though we speak figuratively all the time, we don't throw that word around like we do the word literally. It just doesn't hit the ear the same way. (Did you catch all that figurative language? Literally, did you?)

So it's okay to say that you were so sick you felt like you puked out your guts, but if you describe the action as literal, don't clean it up yet. I'll be right over to see for myself.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Friday Fix: An Everyday Problem?

This Friday Fix is brief but necessary.

Every day should be two words when you mean that something occurs on a daily basis: Please take your vitamins every day.

The one-word version, everyday, is an adjective: I'm going to change from my church clothes into my everyday clothes. Aaahhh, that's better.

('s a bonus tip you won't find in text books. Just a lil summ summ from me to you. If the word "stinkin'" makes sense between the every part and the day part, take the two-word form. As in, I make my bed every stinkin' day. --Shyeah! Like, who does that?)

Quiz time:
Which are correct?
1. We'll have to meet everyday this week to get ready for the event.
2. I'll be glad to get back to my everyday routine.
3. I've told you every day for the past year that your everyday shoes are the brown ones!
4. Leave the good china in the hutch! We'll use the every day dishes.

If you said 2 and 3 you are correct! Muchos kudos!

Don't you wish Friday Fix was an everyday post? Or would it just be another thing to read every stinkin' day? :-) Peace out, Wordlovers.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Exiting Moment!


I was just over at Office Max getting office supplies and on a whim thought I'd go into Books A Million to see if they carry the devotionals. Guess what? Not only were they carrying them, but the books were actually facing cover out, side by side, four deep.

I got a little nervous twitter in my tummy. It was a thing of true beauty.

That was so cool. :-)

(They're retailing for $12.99 not including tax--or shipping if you order online. I can get them for you for an even $12 per book if you're interested. Just let me know by Oct. 28)

Friday, October 16, 2009

Friday Fix: I or Me?

We had it drilled into our heads so much as students that we revert to it when in doubt: Always place another person before yourself in sentences! For example, “Daisy and I are sick of English lessons.” (At least Daisy and the speaker are grammatically correct in their utterance, so maybe they’re just bored.)

The use of “I” above is correct because it’s part of the subject of the sentence. Just as it’s correct to say “I love hugging trees,” it’s correct to compound the subject and say “Bill and I love hugging trees.” (I'll bet they also love hugging each other out in the trees, but I digress.) That’s why teachers harped and harped on it—to get hillbillies like me to stop saying, “Me and Bill love huggin’ trees.”

Where things get problematic is when the compound is not the subject, but the object. After being hit on the hand with a ruler—or even just kept inside from recess enough times—we decided it was just easier and less painful to automatically spout out “Barthalomew and I” regardless of where it occurs in a sentence. In fact, people do it so often (I remember hearing both presidential candidates do it while campaigning last year!) that it almost doesn’t sound wrong anymore. Almost.

Quiz time. Which is correct?

Be sure to buy Illini sweatshirts for Shane and I.

Be sure to buy Illini sweatshirts for Shane and me.

(Think subliminally—Christmas isn’t far off!)

If you chose the second one, you are CORRECT, my friend! The test you can always use until you become comfortable saying it, is to remove the other part of the compound and see how it sounds. I wouldn’t say, “Be sure to buy Illini sweatshirts for I.” But I would DEFINITELY say, “Be sure to buy Illini sweatshirts for me.”

And that’s a great thought to close this thing out…

Monday, October 5, 2009

My Dear Blog,

I know I've neglected you. Yes, I DO realize that I post something weekly on the Olive Branch and that you're lucky to get one post a month. What can I say? I committed to posting every Friday there--whether I write the devotion or not--since God entrusted me with managing it.

No, you're NOT chopped liver! I guess I just have a harder time being as committed to you because I can write about anything here. The purpose isn't so focused, ya know? And you know my struggle with keeping focused. Maybe I need to define it a little better, you know... work on me.

And yes, I know I've brought someone else into the mix with the whole Examiner thing, but honestly, I've treated it about as badly as I've treated you. No need for jealousy there unless I get my patootie in gear.

Wha...what? Facebook? see, it's like this. Um, you may have a valid point there. It's just so much easier to post a one-liner than to commit to lengthier fodder on you, okay?! Sheesh! And I get to see what my friends are up to. Yes, they are TOO real friends!

Maybe you should just back off and quit being so demanding!

I'm sorry. I didn't mean that.

You're always here whenever I feel like posting and I do appreciate that. You know what I'm gonna do? I'm going to commit to a once a week post here too. Maybe that will even motivate me to to post more frequently than once a week; who knows? But here's what I'll commit to that I should be able to continue, given that words are kind of a hobby of mine: Friday's Fix.

Each Friday I will blog about a way to "fix" a common mistake in writing or communication in general. It might be a word that is often misused, mispronounced, or misspelled. It might center on punctuation (I KNOW--that's TOO exciting!). It might deal with more effective ways to communicate. Regardless, it will be a short little lesson geared towards improvement.

Sound okay, Blog 'o mine? So I'll see you Friday, if not before. ;-)