quay / cay / key - You tie your boat up at a quay built next to the shore; you can take your boat out to explore a cay or key—a small island or reef. Cays and keys are natural; quays are always built by human beings.
question / ask - When you question someone, you may ask a series of questions trying to arrive at the truth: ”The police questioned Tom for five hours before he admitted to having stolen the pig.” “Question” can also mean “challenge”: “His mother questioned Timmy’s claim that the cat had eaten all the chocolate chip cookies.” But if you are simply asking a question to get a bit of information, it is not appropriate to say “I questioned whether he had brought the anchovies” when what you really mean is “I asked whether he had brought the anchovies.”
Q / G - Lower-case “q” strongly resembles lower-case “g” in many typefaces, and the two are often confused with each other and the resulting misspelling missed in proofreading, for instance “quilt” when “guilt” is intended.
kick-start - JUMP-START
You revive a dead battery by jolting it to life with a jumper cable: an extraordinary measure used in an emergency. So if you hope to stimulate a foundering economy, you want to jump-start it. Kick-starting is an old-fashioned and difficult way of starting a motorcycle, so it is logically an inappropriate label for a shortcut method of getting something going. But the popularity of Kickstarter.com has probably made this a hopeless cause.
key - “Deceptive marketing is key to their success as a company.” “Careful folding of the egg whites is key.” This very popular sort of use of “key” as an adjective by itself to mean “crucial” sets the teeth of some of us on edge. It derives from an older usage of “key” as a metaphorical noun: “The key to true happiness is an abundant supply of chocolate.” “Key” as an adjective modifying a noun is also traditional: “Key evidence in the case was mislaid by the police.”
But adjectival “key” without a noun to modify it is not so traditional. If this sort of thing bothers you (as it does me), you’ll have to grit your teeth and sigh. It’s not going away
killed after - KILLED BY, KILLED IN, DIED AFTER
Reporters often claim that accident victims have been killed after a collision with car or after some other catastrophe. What they really mean is that they were killed in the accident (if death was instantaneous), or by it, or that they died after it (if they lingered); and that’s what they should say.
early adapter - EARLY ADOPTER
An “early adopter” is a person who quickly adopts something new—usually a technological innovation. If you just have to rush out and buy the latest and coolest gadget, you’re an early adopter. If it meant anything, an “early adapter” would be someone who reworked something first for his or her own purposes, but most of the time this version of the phrase is just a mistake.
e.g. / i.e. - When you mean “for example,” use e.g. It is an abbreviation for the Latin phrase exempli gratia. When you mean “that is,” use “i.e.” It is an abbreviation for the Latin phrase id est. Either can be used to clarify a preceding statement, the first by example, the second by restating the idea more clearly or expanding upon it. Because these uses are so similar, the two abbreviations are easily confused. If you just stick with good old English “for example” and “that is” you won’t give anyone a chance to sneer at you. If you insist on using the abbreviation, perhaps “example given” will remind you to use “e.g.,” while “in effect” suggests “i.e.”
Since e.g. indicates a partial list, it is redundant to add “etc.” at the end of a list introduced by this abbreviation.
each - “Each” as a subject is always singular: think of it as equivalent to “every one.” The verb whose subject it is must also be singular. Some uses, like “to keep them from fighting, each dog has been given its own bowl,” cause no problem. No one is tempted to say “have been given.” But when a prepositional phrase with a plural object intervenes between subject and verb, we are likely to be misled into saying things like “Each of the children have to memorize their own locker combinations.” The subject is “each,” not “children.” The tendency to avoid specifying gender by using “their” adds to pressure toward plurality, but the correct version of this sentence is “Each of the children has to memorize his or her own locker combination.” One can avoid the entire problem by pluralizing throughout: “All the children have to memorize their own locker combinations” (but see the entry on singular “they” for more on this point). In many uses, however, “each” is not the subject, as in “We each have our own favorite flavor of ice cream” which is correct because “we” and not “each” is the subject of the verb “have.”
“Each other” cannot be a subject, so the question of verb number does not arise, but the number of the possessive creates a problem for some writers. “They gazed into each other’s eyes” is correct and “each others’” is incorrect because “each other” is singular. Reword to “each gazed into the other’s eyes” to see the logic behind this rule. “Each other” is always two distinct words separated by a space although it functions grammatically as a sort of compound word.
Keep In Step With The Times
Meaning-To be, strive to be, or appear to be contemporary, fashionable, and/or relevant in modern times.
Example-As information becomes more readily available in a digital format, publishers are going to have to change their methods if they want to keep in step with the times.
Pay Lip Service
Meaning-To give a false or insincere declaration that one supposedly values, supports, respects, or believes in something.
Example-I'm tired of politicians who do nothing but pay lip service to the major issues affecting our country.
Sail Near The Wind
Meaning- In a risky or dangerous manner.
Example-If you keep sailing so near the wind, the police are going to arrest you eventually.
The Knacker's Yard
Meaning- Astate of ruin or failure due to having become useless or obsolete
Example-Once a booming industry before the age of the Internet, home video rental has largely ended up in the knacker's yard these days.
Hustle And Bustle-
Meaning-Busy and frenetic activity or excitement.
Example-I avoid the hustle and bustle of malls and shopping centers whenever I can.
Meaning-A hilarious joke, especially one that evokes loud and prolonged laughter.
Example-My uncle told me a real knee-slapper the other day! Do you want to hear it?
Point The Finger At
Meaning-to indicate that one is guilty of doing something; to blame or accuse one of doing something.
Example-Now, I'm not pointing the finger at anyone in particular, but someone here has been stealing food from the communal refrigerator.
Kiss The Ground
Meaning-To make a display of obsequious reverence, devotion, or respect.
Example-You should see these sycophants kiss the ground when the boss walks in.
data - There are several words with Latin or Greek roots whose plural forms ending in A are constantly mistaken for singular ones. See, for instance, criteria and media. “Datum” is so rare now in English that people may assume “data” has no singular form. Many American usage communities, however, use “data” as a singular and some have even gone so far as to invent “datums” as a new plural. This is a case where you need to know the patterns of your context. An engineer or scientist used to writing “the data is” may well find that the editors of a journal or publishing house insist on changing this phrase to “the data are.” Usage is so evenly split in this case that there is no automatic way of determining which is right, but writers addressing an international audience of nonspecialists would probably be safer treating “data” as plural.
The expression logically should be “feats of daring-do” because that’s just what it means: deeds of extreme daring. But through a chain of misunderstandings explained in the Oxford English Dictionary, the standard form evolved with the unusual spelling “derring-do,” and “daring-do” is an error.
damped / dampened - When the vibration of a wheel is reduced it is damped, but when you drive through a puddle your tire is dampened. “Dampened” always has to do with wetting, if only metaphorically: “The announcement that Bob’s parents were staying home after all dampened the spirits of the party-goers.” The parents are being a wet blanket.
damp squid - DAMP SQUIB
Squid are indeed usually damp in their natural environment, but the popular British expression describing a less than spectacular explosion is a “damp squib” (soggy firecracker).
dairy / diary - A common typo that won’t be caught by your spelling checker is swapping “dairy” and “diary.” Butter and cream are dairy products; your journal is your diary.
Rough Around The Edges
Meaning-unpolished, imperfect, or unkempt; somewhat lacking in refinement, sophistication, manners.
Example-This old truck's a little rough around the edges, but it's still the most reliable vehicle I've owned.
- ► 2022 (90)
- Common error in English:quay / cay / key
- Common error in English:question / ask
- Common error in English:Q / G
- Common errors in English:kick-start - JUMP-START
- Common errors in English:key
- Common errors in English:killed after - KILLED BY,...
- Common errors in English:early adapter - EARLY ADO...
- Common errors in English: e.g. / i.e.
- Common errors in English:Each
- Meaning of Keep In Step With The Times
- Meaning of Pay Lip Service
- Meaning of Sail Near The Wind
- Meaning of The Knacker's Yard
- Meaning of Hustle And Bustle
- Meaning of A Knee-slapper
- Meaning of Point The Finger At
- Meaning of Kiss The Ground
- ▼ February (17)
- ► 2020 (1170)
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