Hey, party people!
So… it’s glaringly clear that I am not gonna be able to do a weekly editing advice column, so I’ll tell you what. I’ll do a bi-monthly one instead. How about that? I apologize, but hey, this thing called “life” – oh and a “day job” are kinda cramping my style! I shoulda married a millionaire, but I settled for a very hot, blue collar prison lieutenant with a heart of gold instead. Eh, the sacrifices we make 😉
So today I’m gonna go with mixed-up words part 3. You wouldn’t think that I could do three posts on this, but hot damn, people, I am never short of jaw-dropping errors in some of my editing. Words I would think are no-brainers to me, still seemed to be getting used wrong. So let’s explore some of these, shall we? Here’s this week’s list:
So, we are going to start with the words pour and pore. Y’all know the difference here, right? Pour is a verb, meaning to dump something into a receptacle. “I will pour you some water.” The other word, pore, has to do with the small holes we have in our skin that allow it to breathe. So here’s a test:
“I poured/pored out my heart to him.”
Yes, it’s “poured” – pore needs to be reserved for the body part! Got it? GOOD!
Next, we have alright, and all right. Quite frankly, without meaning to offend anyone, this one works my very. Last. Nerve. I don’t know why “alright” is even a word allowed by Microsoft Word’s dictionary – and hey, maybe it’s even in Webster’s, but I hate the damn word. I do, however, allow it if you aren’t using it to indicate someone is doing “okay” or “well.”
For instance: “Alright, people, what’s the plan?” – I’ll let this slide. This, however, I will not: “Oh, my God, Patty, are you alright?” NO NO NO! You are asking Patty if she is doing okay, so you need to make sure she is ALL RIGHT. Please, for the love of God, stop mixing these up! Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Next: Past/Passed. Oh, the horrors with this one. And ya know what? I can see why this one gets screwed up so badly. Past is a noun meaning someone’s history. But guess what? It’s also an adjective describing the act of walking by someone. The word “passed” also means to have walked or passing by someone or something, however, the only way to clarify this is to use them in a sentence:
“As I passed the mall, I was tempted to stop, but I didn’t.”
“He walked past me, but did not stop.”
Confused yet? Yeah, I thought so. If you can just remember that if you are describing someone “walking past” someone or something, then just make sure you write it that way. I think we’re all intelligent enough to know that if we are “passing” something in past tense (ha!) then we will say “I passed it by.”
Fiance/Fiancee – This one is very easy. Fiance with one “E” is a male – a husband to be. Fiancee with two E’s is a female – a wife to be. Just remember that adding an “E” is high-maintenance, and then you will be able to associate that with a girl. Right? 🙂
Conscience/Conscious. Okay, people. Let’s memorize this one, shall we? Conscience – this is a verb describing that little voice in your head that tells you you’re doing the right thing or not. Those little angels and devils sitting on your shoulder trying to persuade you to a side of good or a side of evil. Conscious is an adjective that describes someone’s state of, well, consciousness. Are they awake, or are they asleep? Another test:
“My conscience/conscious wouldn’t let me cheat on my wife.” Right! Conscience. This word has the word “science” in it – and I associate that with the brain. Maybe you can remember it this way? When all else fails – use the thesaurus tool in Word!
Site/Sight – these are so easy, yet they get mixed up so easily. Site is a noun, meaning a location of something. Job site, the site of the movie set, etc. Sight is also a noun, meaning the way someone sees something. Another test:
“He was in my line of site/sight.” – Right – it’s “sight” – he or she is seeing something. You wouldn’t say they were on a location where someone was looking. I can see why this is confusing, but it’s LINE OF SIGHT, people! 🙂
Let me confuse you further by throwing in the word “cite” – it’s kind of short for “recite” – so this word means to repeat or quote something. Please, please, please don’t ever say that you are going to “Site a reference” to something. It’s always “cite.” Yes, ALWAYS!
Last one – right/rite. This one is pretty basic. I think most people know “right” is both a noun and adjective meaning correct, healthy, appropriate, real, etc., and an adjective meaning, truth, honesty, entitlement – and guess what? It’s also a verb, meaning to set something straight. So where does the word “rite” come into play? Let’s keep this very simple: If you are saying “Last rites” or “rite of passage” this is where you would use this spelling. It’s only a noun, yet I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen “Right of Passage” or “Last Rights” – not correct. Not at all!
All right (heh) that’s all for tonight. Next time,I’m gonna tackle punctuation because it’s a very serious issue, especially in writing books – and especially when it comes to dialogue. I’m gonna end with a shameless plug for my new adult military romance, Patriotic Duty, which is FREE now… because that is how I roll.