Tag Archives: Nicholas Sparks

You Keep Using That Word. I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means: Part III, Or, Commonly Confused Words.

5 Sep

Taking things out of their context can be a dangerous thing.

Take, for example, the whole tradition of bridesmaids.  In the context of weddings, it’s perfectly appropriate–and even expected–to ask your closest friends to spend hundreds of dollars on clothes and shoes and gifts and jewelry and travel all so that they can dress up in the same clothes and stand in a line holding a bouquet of flowers while you kiss somebody.

We just accept this, like it’s no big deal, like it’s a totally normal thing to do.  But the other day, I wanted to kiss this dude I’m married to now*, and so I called up all of my friends and said, “Quick! Wrap up a toaster or a set of wine glasses, put your hair in a curly sideways ponytail, and get down here to stand in a line next to me! Oh, the theme is ‘Reclaimed Rustic Garden Antique Vintage Throwback Owl Owl Owl Owl Owl.’  And instead of giving the guests favors, we’re going to donate to the charity of–hello?  Hello?” and all of the sudden everyone’s acting like this is a super weird thing to do.

[*On a non-grammatical note, I should say that I am married now, and while it’s excellent and fantastic, I do not like to use the phrase “my husband.”  Yes, sure, that’s what he is, but there’s something painfully stuffy and braggadocious about typing it.  You know, unlike the word braggadocious.

It was hard enough to say “my fiancé.”  Eventually I did just because it was easier, but for a long time I referred to him, “my boyfriend who proposed to me and I said yes.”  I suppose that, following the same idea, the long-form for “husband” would be, “That guy who watches those silly football matches with beer drinks and never leaves the toilet seat down and forgets to do home maintenance hammer projects and has an actual medical problem with obesity even though I’m thin and model-esque! Laugh track! Sitcoms! All men are fools!”]

The point I’m making is this: it is important to keep things in their proper context.  With that in mind, the following is a list of commonly confused words that you should stop using in the wrong context.

1. A lot vs. alot

A lot means “many” or “a whole bunch.”

Alot is not a word.

2. All ready vs. already

All ready: Completed prepared.  As in, “The shepherd’s pie was all ready to be eaten.  The hunter’s pie was not.”

Already: By this time; so soon, so early.  As in, “Shouldn’t the hunter’s pie already be done?”

3. Eminent vs. imminent

Eminent: Well-known; influential.  As in, “Eminem was an eminent presence in his college elective course, ‘One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, I’M FROM DETROIT AND I’M GONNA CUT YOU: Seuss Gets Pissed, Or, An Introduction to Caucasian Rhyme.'”

Imminent: Impending; soon to occur.  As in, “If my knees feel achy, I know a storm is imminent.  Especially if my knees are achy from kicking Thor in the gut for not agreeing with me that ‘Set Fire to the Rain’ is totally his song.”

4. Precede vs. proceed.

Precede: To come before.  As in, “A new study shows that 80-90% of occurrences wherein an infectious disease is passed from one person to another are preceded by the phrase, ‘Hey, isn’t Ke$ha great?'”

Proceed: To move forward; to carry on.  As in, “The best way to proceed on an airport’s moving walk-way is this: move to the right if you’re in a hurry, and stay on the left if you’re like me, spread-eagle on the moving ground, gasping, ‘GAIA, BLESSED MOTHER, YOU’RE HAVING A SEIZURE.'”

5. Accept vs. except

Accept: To take or receive; to consent to.  As in, “My friends accept me for who I am: their boss, who has written friendship into their contracts.”

Except: With the exclusion of.  As in, “My friends accept me for who I am because of the contract, except for my best friends, who also accept me as ‘the defendant’ in their civil suit against me.  Best friends are so funny! And litigious!”

So remember: context, context, context.  It’s like the other day, when I got into a big fight with a police officer.  At first he was really mad and all arrest-y because I said, “I’m gonna punch you in the stomach until you can’t breathe!”  But the thing is, if he had waited for me to give him the context–“I’m gonna punch you in the stomach until you can’t breathe BECAUSE I’M TRYING TO GET TO A ROBBERY”–I have a feeling he would have been a little more understanding.  Instead, he gave me the Nicholas Sparks treatment, which is basically where I get tasered and then someone I love gets cancer, and also, I’m an awful writer.




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