Saturday, July 7, 2012

Stop the Insanity - Using the Right Words in the Right Places

I’m not big on posting boring lists, but today, I’ll make an exception.

It's RBI not RBI's
We all run across words, phrases and issues from time to time, that don’t make a lot of sense. Okay, I’ll come right out and say it, they are flat out WRONG. I don’t consider myself an expert on grammar or proper use of words so I’ve kept an ongoing list of the top pet peeves/mistakes I’ve made in the past. Here we go and, hopefully I hope, you’ll find a couple that will help.

Let’s start off with my biggest offender in the early days. My first manuscript, THE CARD, was full of this one.

1. Hopefully. Hopefully means in a hopeful manner. “I hope to finish this manuscript,” is usually what is meant which is very different from, “Hopefully, I’ll finish this manuscript.” (which is saying you’ll finish the manuscript, with a hopeful attitude.)
Nine times out of ten, we really mean, “I hope.”

2. Literally. Literally means “actually” so if you say, “I literally laughed my head off,” then your head should be lying on the ground, which it would be hard to imagine that you would be laughing. What you probably meant to say was, “I laughed my head off.” An acceptable illustration as to how hard you laughed.

3. Comprised of. Comprises means includes. When you are trying to use the word, substitute “includes of” and see if it works (of course it won’t.) “A list of my favorite things to do in the summer includes of swimming, barbequing and drinking! Comprises is the correct word, but all good things to do in the summer!

4. Merge together. AAAHHHHHH. Sorry for the scream. There are many examples of redundant phrases like this that drive me crazy. You really mean “merge”, once—one time, not merge merge. Want more? Free gift—it wouldn’t be a gift if it weren’t free. Absolute necessity—puhlease. The best, “a pair of twins” *sigh* unless of course you are my friends David and Kat Whiteley who actually have two sets of twins, we refer to them as a four-pack.

5. That/Who. This is a good one, have you ever said/wrote, “A person that works hard, plays hard.” Nope, wrong. Humans are always—who. “A person who works hard, plays hard.” Here’s the catch, everything else is a “that” including animals, except in the case of our resident hero, Mr. Pish, that dog is definitely human.

6. Lay/Lie. I know, you’ve heard this one before. It’s never, “I want to lay down.” It’s, “I want to lie down.” The words are not interchangeable,  LAY requires an object, “I want to lay my head down.”

7. RBI’s. For you baseball fans out there—this one’s for you. One of my biggest pet peeves. RBI stands for Runs Batted In, a statistic used in baseball referring to how many people have scored based on a players at bat. Notice the first word, RUNS, with an S. It can’t be listed as Runs Batted In’s. That’s just plain wrong. It should be like this, “Jesus Montero recorded four RBI for the Seattle Mariners in the 21 to 8 walloping of the Texas Rangers last night.”

That’s all for now, if I get wiggity about this in the future maybe I’ll dish out a few others. Do you have any that bug you? Leave us a few choice ones in the comments below.

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 This post was originally published on Indies Unlimited by Jim Devitt on June 2nd, 2012


  1. Well allow me to add a couple or three:

    IRREGARDLESS is not a word. It is simple regardless of the outcome...

    I SEEN ..... Argghhhhhhh

    Me and him..... No.... He and I ....

    Good list Jimmy, problem is, sometimes we say it incorrectly for so like, the correct way SOUNDS wrong.

  2. That should have said for so LONG, Hate typing on an iPad

  3. Oh yeah, irregardless is a great one. Drives me nuts.