Watch Your (Native) Tongue--Continued!

Commonly misused, abused, confused words appear with explanations for their proper use. In addition a couple of hints for mis-pronounced words are explained.

I receive the most comments when I provide information on misused or confused
words. So, I’m responding to specific questions that appeared in comments from
an earlier blog.  I invite you to submit more requests, because preserving our native tongue is a worthy cause. By the way, the abbreviation e.g. comes from the Latin exempli gratia and means “for example.”

1) Alot/ alright are not words in the English language, but a lot and all right are.

2) which/that—If the information provided is essential to the meaning of the sentence, use THAT in the phrase or clause. If it’s additional, parenthetical information, use WHICH in the phrase or clause along with a comma e.g. The car that Lou bought is the newest model.  If we remove that clause, we don’t know which car the speaker means.

Lou’s car, which has a red leather interior, is the newest model. That clause provides additional information but doesn’t affect the essential meaning of the sentence.

3) It’s/its—It’s ALWAYS means it is. Its ALWAYS shows ownership. Its’ is NEVER a word. e.g. It’s good to know that the house has retained its value.

4) There/their/they’re- These homophones have distinctly different uses. There
usually indicates location. Their is a possessive pronoun.  They’re is the contraction for they are. The easiest way to remember the distinction between the first two is there (NB underlined portion location—there-here) it; their(NB underlined portion
is the word for someone who inherits possessions).

5) Fewer/less—When speaking about quantity, use the first word; otherwise, use the second word.  e.g. If you have fewer than ten items, you can use the express lane. (Yes, I know most stores have this wrong!) I would like less cheese on my pizza, please.

6) Pronunciation clue—nuclear= new/clear    realtor= real-tor

I’m reserving the more extensive discussion of the differences between adjectives and adverbs for another entry.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Oxford December 03, 2012 at 03:40 AM
Thanks for these great language tips. Below is a link to yet another opinion. http://oxforddictionaries.com/words/that-or-which
Laura I. Maniglia December 03, 2012 at 04:54 PM
Thanks! I chose to forego the distinction between restrictive & non restrictive clauses to make the explanation more accessible.
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