Glossary of Faulty Expressions
E-mail: jay(at)salsburg(dot)com

There are a million words in the English Language with millions of expressions made from these words. It is an absurd quirk of human existence that the most common usage of English repeated by almost everyone are the few expressions that are faulty and, even fewer, expressions that are profane.


This one should never be used (especially by Meteorologists)
"Once Again"

Things may happen once or things may happen again but not both because one contradicts the other.
This faulty expression is a contraction from an Old English superfluous expression "Once and Again" which may be correct but is no longer used. It is an Americanization of the Old English to ignorantly replace the correct usage.

The correct usage would be:
The rain has returned once more - not - It's raining once again. Better yet to eliminate the superfluous phrase, The rain has returned.

A News Reader was heard saying, “(about a Model Rocket) there was a near miss.” This is a common faulty expression bordering on Oxy Moronic to something that actually nearly hit. A near miss means the objects actually collided. A near hit means they did not hit. This Colloquialism started long ago when poorly educated journalists commented about Ships appearing to nearly miss in harbors, which then were the largest and fastest objects in Human experience. This common faulty expression is similar to other Journalistic faults like “The money turned up missing,” and “It is raining once again.

Many News Anchors mispronounce words seemingly as a tradition, but actually as error - Since it is not possible for you to hear the words mispronounced as text in this document, I will use phonetic spelling, You will probably recognize the errors...

"We heard from many Vetrans today..." No, the word "Veterans" has three syllables.

"He crashed his ve - hi - cle..." No, the h in vehicle is soft or silent and is pronounced phonetically ve-a-cul.

"The Mercree hit 100 degrees". No! The Element Mercury is pronounced with three syllables. Only empty-headed car salesmen pronounce their Ford products with two syllables.

Meteorologist frequently use faulty expressions...(and other people on and not on television) often use multiple prepositions in a row and often moronic combinations of them, for instance in the following example things can be off or on not both:

The Front will move on off to the East. Not only is this wrong it is twice faulty (three prepositions in a row). It should correctly read: The Front moved to the East (of our city) or The Front moved Eastward.

Another Fault heard used by Meteorologist, If we back back up to see a larger view... No! Use of the word 'back' twice in a row is superfluous and there are four prepositions in a row. It should be said like this, If we zoom out we shall have a larger view...

Meteorologist often say 'Let's take a look at the visible satellite image.' Is this in contradistinction to the invisible satellite image? The word 'visible' is superfluous. Let's take a look at the satellite image. Better yet, Let us examine the satellite image. Or Let's take a look at the visible-light satellite image. (99.99999999% of all light wavelengths are invisible) It may be that the Meteorologist is errantly assuming you understand that there is another image that may be from a Multi-Spectral sensor of light that is not visible to the human eye. In this case the Meteorologist should say, Let us see what the satellite is showing.

Sometimes, the Meteorologist may be rushing to get his or her message accross to the viewer and say, 'The rain has started stopping in (location)'. No, the rain is stopping in (location).

News readers and Meteorologist abuse this expression too often, it is an Americanization of old Scotts gab to say 'The rain came down pretty hard.' No, There was heavy rain.

You may notice frost on your car if you left it out in the open. Things can be out and things can be in but not both. You may notice frost on your car if you left it in the open. Perhaps, but this is still faulty. You may notice frost on your car if left uncovered. Only inbred red necks from Kentucky say things are left out in the open, the rest of us do not.

Another faulty sentence... The storm is out in Texas... Or He was out in the street... No! The storm is in Texas. He is in the street.

That Storm moved on over to the East. Do I have to say more? Why do Meteorologist not learn fault-free expressions? The Storm moved East of us.

It may rain on through Sunday. No! There are two prepositions in a row. It may rain through Sunday.

The Front moved further South. No! Further is a matter of degree, farther is a matter of distance. The Front moved farther South. Things may only be far away, not fur away. Only dirt farmers from Eastern Arkansas say things are fur (further) away.

Never use or say, and especially, do not print these common oxy moronisms used by journalists: The money turned up missing. Or... The body turned up missing. Or... The money was discovered missing. Things either turn up, or more properly, they appear or become. Things may be missing, but they may not turn up missing, they may only be missing. Things may appear, not turn up, and things may be missing, but not at the same time, especially in the same phrase. So if the first part of the phrase were to be corrected it would read: The money appeared to be missing. This is still a problem so the correct usage would be: The money may be missing. Or, even simpler The money is missing. Or... It was discovered the money was missing. Only mule skinners with a third grade education from Western New Mexico say things turn up missing, the rest of us do not.

When a recent 12,000 page document was published, the Pentagon, National News, Media, and Press was quoted as saying the document was "...filled with gaps and omissions." Since it is not possible to fill anything with gaps and omissions which are things that are left out or consciously not included, the official statement should have read something like - The document did not include admissions which constitute gaps and omissions.

Recently, a local Politician was heard to say 'Your Rights are suspended.' This is a defect in logic often exhibited by Politicians (and Citizens) who seemingly operate in an Intellectual Vacum. If it is a "Right" it can not be suspended any more than Gravity can be suspended. This is abuse of the concept "Rights" as in "Inalienable Rights." The proper concept is Privilege. Only Privileges can be suspended. The proper useage would be: Your privileges are suspended. Our ancestoral Leaders misused the word "Civil Rights" when they actually meant "Privileges" as in 'The "Right" to bear Arms' and the "Right" to Freedom of Speech. You can test this by wearing a firearm into a Government Building. Your Rights (Privileges) will be suspended with extreme prejudice.

Filled with holes or gaps or omissions (excluded admissions -constitute gaps and omissions.)
Found Nothing, (nothing found)
Positively no Talking or Smoking or Standing (Absolutely No...) Official Signs posted in Louisiana Governement Buildings use this faulty expression, go figure.
Non-stop flight (Express Flight)
Static Crash (Static Test Crash)


Many people's speech is riddled with faulty superfluous expressions. It is a constant source of humor and frustration for me to hear people in public over populate their speech with many superfluous expressions and in the same sentence leave out what should be added to their errant expressions to make their speech intelligible.

Meteorologists are many times heard, but should rarely be imitated. What is the American Meteorologists Association doing letting these cretins loose on the Public? "Let's go further out, you can see the rain down south." Further is a matter of degree, farther out is proper. When standing in front of a computer-generated RADAR map, the Meteorologist programs the computer to "Zoom Out" to afford a larger area of view. Too bad the Meteorologist does not use the language of the Software, "Zoom Out." When zooming out to afford a wider view, one might say "Let us zoom farther out, to afford a better view of the rain in our South." This is still a problem. "Let us zoom out to see the rain southward." Notice "Southward" has no "s" on the end. Words ending in "ward" do not have a dangling "s" on the end.

Words that end in 'ward' do not end in 's' - backward, forward, upward, downward, inward, outward, the extra 's' is a leftover expression from Old English which died 1200 years ago. Only haggle toothed trailer trash says "backwards."

Do not say 'I am curious anyways . . .' There is no 's' on the end of anyway. This is a common Southernization.

Only cooked chickens are done (stick in a fork) not people. He is finished - not - he is done. It is finished, not - it is done. This is how it is accomplished (not done).

Only steel is hard, efforts are difficult. He had a difficult (not hard) time learning.

Do not be a 'Got Lot' person. Do you say 'We got lots a great stuff ferya.'? First the word 'got' does not belong in a sentence used as it is here, Say 'We have' not 'We got'. It is a common error not to use have and say got. Lazy mouth red necks even drop the contraction We've and say 'We got.' Second the word 'lot' means a piece or a section. Say 'We have much for you.' or 'We have many things for you.' Do not say 'You got the report?', say 'Do you have the report?' Do not be a Got Lot person.

That famous 'Radio Shack' motto - You got Questions, We got Answers - was obviously created by a hide tanner with a second grade education, raised in south Fort Worth. To stress the point of correctness, the Motto should read - 'If you have questions, we have the answers.'

In a recent TV commercial of a spray-on Oven Cleaner, the participants are clearly heard saying the word “burnt.” Where this word is in Webster's dictionary, it is obsolete like the word “whilst.” It is not incorrect usage to use the word “burnt” it is, however, a faulty expression for the word “burned.” Only dead British transcendentalist and ignorant redneck dirt farmers still use the word “burnt,” that includes ‘burnt on,” “burnt in,” and “burnt through” etc. Correct use of the expression for the word “burnt” is the word “burned.”

Do not forget to exclude yourself when speaking about being the best. 'No one does it for less.' This mean that you do it for less than yourself? Say 'No one else does it for less.'

We will begin the boarding process.
The words 'the process' are extra words and therefore superfluous. We will begin boarding.

Passengers may begin to pre-board.
NO! You either board the plane or not. Passengers may begin to board.

Passengers may de-train.
If you are getting out of your car do you de-car? No! Passengers may disembark.

Passengers may get on the Plane.
NO! Passengers can only get in the Plane, it is too windy riding on the Plane.

This will be a non-stop flight.
NO! The flight must eventually stop, hopefully safely on a runway at an airport. This will be an express flight.

Remain seated until the Plane comes to a complete Stop. Is this apposed to an incomplete Stop? NO! You either are stopped or not. You may leave your seat only after the Plane stops moving.

Positively No Smoking. OR Positively No Talking OR Positively No Standing. This is a common mistake made in the Southern US. I have actually seen this faulty expression used on signs in Louisiana State Government Buildings. It is an error in usage of the word Positively. It should say 'Absolutely No Smoking' or better yet 'No Smoking.'

I am trying to quit.
NO! You either quit or not. You may Stop and Start, but Quit is final just like death, Quitting is as final as Death.

The man is attempting to jump off the bridge. NO! The phrase 'attempting to' is errant and superfluous. You either jump or you don't, attempting is not real. The man is daring to jump. I have actually heard a Police dispatcher say this to Officers responding to someone attempting suicide.

In order to accomplish this...
NO! 'In order' is superfluous, you just accomplish. To accomplish this...

So as to accomplish this...
NO! 'So as' is superfluous, you merely accomplish. To accomplish this...

This program was Pre-Recorded. This Program was previously Recorded.
NO! The program was recorded. This is why you record something. Does pre-recorded mean you recorded it before you recorded it? NO! This program was recorded. The program you are now viewing (hearing) is recorded.

Once and for all.
NO! This is an incomplete phrase. Once and for all time.

It is like you've never seen.
NO! This is an incomplete phrase. If you never see something that means never in the past, never in the present and never in the future. Never is never. It is like you've never seen before.

These should never be spoken and especially never written...

53. Positively no ...
53. Filled with holes
52. Found nothing
51. Recorded live
50. Near miss
49. Started Stopping
48. Procrastinate Now
47. Once again
46. Discovered missing
45. Found missing
44. Act naturally
43. Resident alien
42. Advanced BASIC
41. Genuine imitation
40. Airline Food
39. Good grief
38. Same difference
37. Almost exactly
36. Government organization
35. Sanitary landfill
34. Alone together
33. Legally drunk
32. Silent scream
31. Living dead
30. Small crowd
29. Business ethics
28. Soft rock
27. Butt Head
26. Military Intelligence
25. Software documentation
24. New classic
23. Sweet sorrow
22. Childproof (Marine Proof)
21. "Now, then ..."
20. Synthetic natural gas
19. Passive aggression
18. Taped live
17. Clearly misunderstood
16. Peace force
15. Extinct Life
14. Temporary tax increase
13. Computer jock
12. Plastic glasses
11. Terribly pleased
10. Computer security
9. Political science
8. Tight slacks
7. Definite maybe
6. Pretty ugly
5. Twelve-ounce pound cake
4. Diet ice cream
3. Working vacation
2. Exact estimate
1. Microsoft Works

Reasons the English Language Is difficult to Learn:

1) The bandage was wound around the wound.
2) The farm was used to produce produce.
3) The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.
4) We must polish the Polish furniture.
5) He could lead if he would get the lead out.
6) The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.
7) Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.
8) A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.
9) When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.
10) I did not object to the object.
11) The insurance was invalid for the invalid.
12) There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.
13) They were too close to the door to close it.
14) The buck does funny things when the does are present.
15) A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line.
16) To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.
17) The wind was too strong to wind the sail.
18) After a number of injections my jaw got number.
19) Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear.
20) I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.
21) How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?

Never do the following.

  1. Verbs HAS to agree with their subjects.
  2. Prepositions are not words to end sentences with.
  3. And don't start a sentence with a conjunction.
  4. It is wrong to ever split an infinitive.
  5. Avoid cliches like the plague. (They're old hat)
  6. Also, always avoid annoying alliteration.
  7. Be more or less specific.
  8. Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are (usually) unnecessary.
  9. Also too, never, ever use repetitive redundancies. 
 10. No sentence fragments. 
 11. Contractions aren't necessary and shouldn't be used.
 12. Foreign words and phrases are not apropos.
 13. Do not be redundant; do not use more words than necessary; it's highly superfluous.
 14. One should NEVER generalize.
 15. Comparisons are as bad as cliches.
 16. Don't use no double negatives.
 17. Eschew ampersands & abbreviations, etc.
 18. One-word sentences? Eliminate.
 19. Analogies in writing are like feathers on a snake.
 20. The passive voice is to be ignored.
 21. Eliminate commas, that are, not necessary. Parenthetical words however should be enclosed in commas.
 22. Never use a big word when a diminutive one would suffice.
 23. Kill all exclamation points!!!
 24. Use words correctly, irregardless of how others use them.
 25. Understatement is always the absolute best way to put forth earth shaking ideas.
 26. Use the apostrophe in it's proper place and omit it when its not needed.
 27. Eliminate quotations. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "I hate quotations.  Tell me what you know."
 28. If you've heard it once, you've heard it a thousand times: Resist hyperbole; not one writer in a million can use it correctly.
 29. Puns are for children, not groan readers.
 30. Go around the barn at high noon to avoid colloquialisms.
 31. Even IF a mixed metaphor sings, it should be derailed.
 32. Who needs rhetorical questions?
 33. Exaggeration is a billion times worse than understatement.
 And finally...
 34. Proofread carefully to see if you out any words


A rhetorical question is a figure of speech in the form of a question posed for rhetorical effect rather than to receive an answer. Rhetorical questions encourage the listener to reflect on what the implied answer to the question must be. When a speaker declaims, "How much longer must our people endure this injustice?" or "Do you really think I want to have a Star Trek themed wedding?", or "How many times do I have to tell you to stop walking into the house with mud on your shoes?"; no formal answer is expected. Rather, it is a device used by the speaker to assert or deny something. Some language experts consider rhetorical questions to be in fact, grammatical errors when used formally.

As many other expressions these questions may vary in significance from one language to another or even from one version of a language to another due to the peculiar idioms of the language or dialect. For example commonly used rhetorical questions of American slang may be sometimes confusing to people who may be fluent in English but unfamiliar with the localized meaning and who may attempt to answer the rhetorical question in an argument. Likewise, an American English speaker may be confused if asked "Are you coming the raw prawn?" which in Australian English has the same meaning as the rhetorical question: "Are you pulling my leg?", which might confuse someone unfamiliar with phrase. Both of these are rhetorical questions that are actually a form of epiplexis (a specific kind of rhetorical question) used to mean "Are you kidding me?" Another recently common English based Rhetorical question is the Instant Messaging abbreviation "lol?". Note the question mark which lets the IM recipient intemperate the "lol" as rhetorical This phrase often appears in Instant Messaging conversations in order to display blatant confusion with hints of sarcastic humor.

A Glossary of Rhetorical Terms with Examples

Alliteration: repetition of the same sound beginning several words in sequence.
*Let us go forth to lead the land we love. J. F. Kennedy, Inaugural
*Viri validis cum viribus luctant. Ennius
*Veni, vidi, vici. Julius Caesar
Anacoluthon: lack of grammatical sequence; a change in the grammatical construction within the same sentence.
*Agreements entered into when one state of facts exists -- are they to be maintained regardless of changing conditions? J. Diefenbaker
Anadiplosis: ("doubling back") the rhetorical repetition of one or several words; specifically, repetition of a word that ends one clause at the beginning of the next.
*Men in great place are thrice servants: servants of the sovereign or state; servants of fame; and servants of business. Francis Bacon
*Senatus haec intellegit, consul videt; hic tamen vivit. Vivit? Immo vero etiam in senatum venit. Cicero, In Catilinam
*Aeschines 3.133
Anaphora: the repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of successive phrases, clauses or lines.
*We shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills. We shall never surrender. Churchill.
*Nihil agis, nihil moliris, nihil cogitas, quod non ego non modo audiam, sed etiam videam planeque sentiam. Cicero, In Catilinam
*Lysias, Against Eratosthenes 21
*Demosthenes, On the Crown 48
Anastrophe: transposition of normal word order; most often found in Latin in the case of prepositions and the words they control. Anastrophe is a form of hyperbaton.
*The helmsman steered; the ship moved on; yet never a breeze up blew. Coleridge, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner
*Isdem in oppidis, Cicero
*Demosthenes, On the Crown 13
Antistrophe: repetition of the same word or phrase at the end of successive clauses.
*In 1931, ten years ago, Japan invaded Manchukuo -- without warning. In 1935, Italy invaded Ethiopia -- without warning. In 1938, Hitler occupied Austria -- without warning. In 1939, Hitler invaded Czechoslovakia -- without warning. Later in 1939, Hitler invaded Poland -- without warning. And now Japan has attacked Malaya and Thailand -- and the United States --without warning. Franklin D. Roosevelt
*Aeschines, Against Ctesiphon 198
Antithesis: opposition, or contrast of ideas or words in a balanced or parallel construction.
*Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice, moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue. Barry Goldwater
*Brutus: Not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved Rome more. Shakespeare, Julius Caesar
*The vases of the classical period are but the reflection of classical beauty; the vases of the archaic period are beauty itself." Sir John Beazley
*Demosthenes, Olynthiac 2.26
Aporia: expression of doubt (often feigned) by which a speaker appears uncertain as to what he should think, say, or do.
*Then the steward said within himself, 'What shall I do?' Luke 16
*Demosthenes, On the Crown 129
Aposiopesis: a form of ellipse by which a speaker comes to an abrupt halt, seemingly overcome by passion (fear, excitement, etc.) or modesty.
*Demosthenes, On the Crown 3
Apostrophe: a sudden turn from the general audience to address a specific group or person or personified abstraction absent or present.
*For Brutus, as you know, was Caesar's angel.
Judge, O you gods, how dearly Caesar loved him. Shakespeare, Julius Caesar
Archaism: use of an older or obsolete form.
*Pipit sate upright in her chair
Some distance from where I was sitting; T. S. Eliot, "A Cooking Egg"
Assonance: repetition of the same sound in words close to each other.
*Thy kingdom come, thy will be done.
*O fortunatam natam me consule Romam! Cicero, de consulatu
Asyndeton: lack of conjunctions between coordinate phrases, clauses, or words.
*We shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardships, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty. J. F. Kennedy, Inaugural
*But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. Lincoln, Gettysburg Address
*Demosthenes, On the Crown 200
Brachylogy: a general term for abbreviated or condensed expression, of which asyndeton and zeugma are types. Ellipse is often used synonymously. The suppressed word or phrase can usually be supplied easily from the surrounding context.
*Aeolus haec contra: Vergil, Aeneid
*Non Cinnae, non Sullae longa dominatio. Tacitus, Annales I.1
Cacophony: harsh joining of sounds.
*We want no parlay with you and your grisly gang who work your wicked will. W. Churchill
*O Tite tute Tati tibi tanta tyranne tulisti! Ennius
Catachresis: a harsh metaphor involving the use of a word beyond its strict sphere.
*I listen vainly, but with thirsty ear. MacArthur, Farewell Address
*Cynthia prima suis miserum me cepit ocellis. Propertius I.1.1
Chiasmus: two corresponding pairs arranged not in parallels (a-b-a-b) but in inverted order (a-b-b-a); from shape of the Greek letter chi (X).
*Those gallant men will remain often in my thoughts and in my prayers always. MacArthur
*Renown'd for conquest, and in council skill'd. Addison et pacis ornamenta et subsidia belli. Cicero, Pro lege Manilia
*Plato, Republic 494e
Climax: arrangement of words, phrases, or clauses in an order of ascending power. Often the last emphatic word in one phrase or clause is repeated as the first emphatic word of the next.
*One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield. Tennyson, Ulysses
*Nonne hunc in vincula duci, non ad mortem rapi, non summo supplicio mactari imperabis? Cicero, In Catilinam
*Facinus est vincere civem Romanum; scelus verberare; prope parricidium necare: quid dicam in crucem tollere? verbo satis digno tam nefaria res appellari nullo modo potest. Cicero, In Verrem
*Demosthenes, On the Crown 179
Euphemism: substitution of an agreeable or at least non-offensive expression for one whose plainer meaning might be harsh or unpleasant.
*When the final news came, there would be a ring at the front door -- a wife in this situation finds herself staring at the front door as if she no longer owns it or controls it--and outside the door would be a man... come to inform her that unfortunately something has happened out there, and her husband's body now lies incinerated in the swamps or the pines or the palmetto grass, "burned beyond recognition," which anyone who had been around an air base very long (fortunately Jane had not) realized was quite an artful euphemism to describe a human body that now looked like an enormous fowl that has burned up in a stove, burned a blackish brown all over, greasy and blistered, fried, in a word, with not only the entire face and all the hair and the ears burned off, not to mention all the clothing, but also the hands and feet, with what remains of the arms and legs bent at the knees and elbows and burned into absolutely rigid angles, burned a greasy blackish brown like the bursting body itself, so that this husband, father, officer, gentleman, this ornamentum of some mother's eye, His Majesty the Baby of just twenty-odd years back, has been reduced to a charred hulk with wings and shanks sticking out of it. Tom Wolfe, The Right Stuff
Hendiadys: use of two words connected by a conjunction, instead of subordinating one to the other, to express a single complex idea.
*It sure is nice and cool today! (for "pleasantly cool")
*I love the Lord, because he hath heard my voice and my supplications. Psalms 116
*Perfecti oratoris moderatione et sapientia. Cicero, De oratore
Hypallage: ("exchanging") transferred epithet; grammatical agreement of a word with another word which it does not logically qualify. More common in poetry.
*Exegi monumentum aere perennius
regalique situ pyramidum altius, Horace, Odes III.30
Hyperbaton: separation of words which belong together, often to emphasize the first of the separated words or to create a certain image.
*Speluncam Dido dux et Troianus eandem Vergil, Aeneid 4.124, 165
Hyperbole: exaggeration for emphasis or for rhetorical effect.
*My vegetable love should grow
Vaster than empires, and more slow;
An hundred years should got to praise
Thine eyes and on thine forehead gaze;
Two hundred to adore each breast,
But thirty thousand to the rest. Andrew Marvell, "To His Coy Mistress"
*Da mi basia mille, deinde centum,
Dein mille altera, dein secunda centum,
Deinde usque altera mille, deinde centum. Catullus, to his.
Hysteron Proteron ("later-earlier"): inversion of the natural sequence of events, often meant to stress the event which, though later in time, is considered the more important.
*"I like the island Manhattan. Smoke on your pipe and put that in." -- from the song "America," West Side Story lyric by Stephen Sondheim (submitted per litteram by guest rhetorician Anthony Scelba)
*Put on your shoes and socks!
*Hannibal in Africam redire atque Italia decedere coactus est. Cicero, In Catilinam
Irony: expression of something which is contrary to the intended meaning; the words say one thing but mean another.
*Yet Brutus says he was ambitious;
And Brutus is an honourable man. Shakespeare, Julius Caesar
Litotes: understatement, for intensification, by denying the contrary of the thing being affirmed. (Sometimes used synonymously with meiosis.)
*A few unannounced quizzes are not inconceivable.
*War is not healthy for children and other living things.
*One nuclear bomb can ruin your whole day. (meiosis)
Metaphor: implied comparison achieved through a figurative use of words; the word is used not in its literal sense, but in one analogous to it.
*Life's but a walking shadow; a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage. Shakespeare, Macbeth
*. . . while he learned the language (that meager and fragile thread . . . by which the little surface corners and edges of men's secret and solitary lives may be joined for an instant now and then before sinking back into the darkness. . . ) Faulkner, Absalom, Absalom!
*From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the continent. W. Churchill
Metonymy: substitution of one word for another which it suggests.
*He is a man of the cloth.
*The pen is mightier than the sword.
*By the sweat of thy brow thou shalt eat thy bread.
Onomatopoeia: use of words to imitate natural sounds; accommodation of sound to sense.
*At tuba terribili sonitu taratantara dixit. Ennius
Oxymoron: apparent paradox achieved by the juxtaposition of words which seem to contradict one another.
*Festina lente.
*I must be cruel only to be kind. Shakespeare, Hamlet
Paradox: an assertion seemingly opposed to common sense, but that may yet have some truth in it.
*What a pity that youth must be wasted on the young. George Bernard Shaw
Paraprosdokian: surprise or unexpected ending of a phrase or series.
*He was at his best when the going was good. Alistair Cooke on the Duke of Windsor
*There but for the grace of God -- goes God. Churchill
*Laudandus, ornandus, tollendus. Cicero on Octavian
Paronomasia: use of similar sounding words; often etymological word-play.
*...culled cash, or cold cash, and then it turned into a gold cache. E.L. Doctorow, Billy Bathgate
*Thou art Peter (Greek petros), and upon this rock (Greek petra) I shall build my church. Matthew 16
*The dying Mercutio: Ask for me tomorrow and you shall find me a grave man. Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet
*Hic est sepulcrum haud pulchrum feminae pulchrae.
Personification: attribution of personality to an impersonal thing.
*England expects every man to do his duty. Lord Nelson
*Nunc te patria, quae communis est parens omnium nostrum, odit ac metuit et iam diu nihil te iudicat nisi de parricidio suo cogitare. Cicero, In Catilinam
Pleonasm: use of superfluous or redundant words, often enriching the thought.
*No one, rich or poor, will be excepted.
*Ears pierced while you wait!
*I have seen no stranger sight since I was born.
Polysyndeton: the repetition of conjunctions in a series of coordinate words, phrases, or clauses.
*I said, "Who killed him?" and he said, "I don't know who killed him but he's dead all right," and it was dark and there was water standing in the street and no lights and windows broke and boats all up in the town and trees blown down and everything all blown and I got a skiff and went out and found my boat where I had her inside Mango Bay and she was all right only she was full of water. Hemingway, After the Storm
*omnia Mercurio similis, vocemque coloremque
et crinis flavos et membra decora iuventae Vergil, Aeneid 4.558-9
*Horae quidem cedunt et dies et menses et anni, nec praeteritum tempus umquam revertitur, nec quid sequatur sciri potest. Cicero, De senectute
Praeteritio (=paraleipsis): pretended omission for rhetorical effect.
*That part of our history detailing the military achievements which gave us our several possessions ... is a theme too familiar to my listeners for me to dilate on, and I shall therefore pass it by. Thucydides, "Funeral Oration"
*Let us make no judgment on the events of Chappaquiddick, since the facts are not yet all in. A political opponent of Senator Edward Kennedy
Prolepsis: the anticipation, in adjectives or nouns, of the result of the action of a verb; also, the positioning of a relative clause before its antecedent.
*Vixi et quem dederat cursum fortuna peregi, Vergil, Aeneid 4.653
*Consider the lilies of the field how they grow.
Simile: an explicit comparison between two things using 'like' or 'as'.
*My love is as a fever, longing still
For that which longer nurseth the disease, Shakespeare, Sonnet CXLVII
*Reason is to faith as the eye to the telescope. D. Hume [?]
*Let us go then, you and I,
While the evening is spread out against the sky,
Like a patient etherized upon a table... T.S. Eliot, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock
Syllepsis: use of a word with two others, with each of which it is understood differently.
*We must all hang together or assuredly we will all hang separately. Benjamin Franklin
Synchysis: interlocked word order.
*aurea purpuream subnectit fibula vestem Vergil, Aeneid 4.139
Synecdoche: understanding one thing with another; the use of a part for the whole, or the whole for the part. (A form of metonymy.)
*Give us this day our daily bread. Matthew 6
*I should have been a pair of ragged claws
Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.
T. S. Eliot, "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock"
*The U.S. won three gold medals. (Instead of, The members of the U.S. boxing team won three gold medals.)
Synesis (=constructio ad sensum): the agreement of words according to logic, and not by the grammatical form; a kind of anacoluthon.
*For the wages of sin is death. Romans 6
*Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them. Acts 6
Tautology: repetition of an idea in a different word, phrase, or sentence.
*With malice toward none, with charity for all. Lincoln, Second Inaugural
Zeugma: two different words linked to a verb or an adjective which is strictly appropriate to only one of them.
*Nor Mars his sword, nor war's quick fire shall burn
The living record of your memory.
*Longa tibi exsilia et vastum maris aequor arandum. Vergil, Aeneid



These verbs should not be confused.

The committee decided to accept the gift of ten thousand dollars.
We except (i.e., "exclude") those persons under twelve years of age.


Informal abbreviation for advertisement.


As verbs, affect means "to influence" and effect means "to cause." The noun effect means "result."
His speech is sure to affect the vote.
It will have a great effect.
As governor, he will effect certain changes in local practices.


This verb means "to make heavier or more severe."
The draught from the open door will aggravate the patient's condition.
Do not use aggravate to mean "annoy" or "irritate," as in "The child aggravates me."

agree to,
agree with

My brother agreed to his employer's proposal.
("gave assent to")
I agreed with her that the hour was a poor one
("was in accord with")

ain' t

Incorrect for "am not," "are not," and the like. Do not use it.

all right,

Observe that the dictionaries do not recognize alright as an acceptable word. All right (two words) form a colloquial phrase equivalent to "Correct" or "Very well."

all the farther

The correct idiom is as far as:
This is as far as I am willing to go.
(Not: This is all the farther I am willing to go.)
Similarly for all the quicker and all the faster.


These nouns must not be confused. An allusion is an indirect reference; an illusion is "an unreal or misleading image." (Webster's Collegiate.) His poem is full of allusions to his boyhood friends.
Illusion, delusion, and hallucination are closely allied words.


Allusive is the adjective form of allusion; elusive, derived from the word elude, means "evasive or baffling."
The poet's style is allusive.
The elusive criminal outwits the police.


Do not confuse these words:
I made the trip to camp alone ("unaccompanied").
Of the group of us, only I had the right change for the telephone ("I and no other").

all ready

The adverb already means "prior to some specified time."
We were surprised to find the boy already there when we arrived.
All ready (two words) form a phrase meaning "completely prepared."
They were all ready, apparently, for the work to begin.


Careful writers and speakers preserve the literal meaning: "a choice between two things or courses."
He was tempted by the second alternative.
Informally, alternative is often used when more than two possibilities are concerned.

all together

Altogether is an adverb meaning "wholly" or "thoroughly" and must not be confused with the phrase all together (two words) meaning "simultaneously" or "all at once."
The customers were altogether dissatisfied.
They were all together in the waiting-room by nine o'clock.


Among refers to more than two; between refers to two:
Between you and me, I think this is one of the finest novels produced this year.
Let us divide the toys among the eight children.
Informally, between may refer to more than two:
We divided it between Jim, Henry, and Frank.

and etc.

Omit the and. Etc. is an abbreviation for et cetera ("and the rest").


Anent is a pompous word for concerning.
I spoke to him concerning (not anent) his unusual views.

angry about,

We are angry about occasions or situations; we are angry with people; we are angry at things or animals:
Father was angry about the increased taxes.
He was angry with Mr. Williams for supporting the new mayor.
He showed his dissatisfaction by becoming angry at the car for stalling.


This word is sometimes misused in the sense of at all or of any other:
She says she has not slept at all (not any) for three nights.
New York is larger than any other (not any) city in this country.
I like New York better than any European city. (Any is correctly used for two classes are involved.)

any place

See place.


Liable and apt are sometimes improperly used for likely. Something is "apt" if it is "suited for, appropriate to" something else, or a person is "apt" if he has a tendency to do something or is ready to learn. Liable means "answerable for" and often suggests an undesirable possibility. Likely means "probably."
They are not apt students.
He is liable to arrest.
It will very likely rain tomorrow.


Do not confuse around with about:
Philip went about (not around) with older men.


Do not use as when that or whether is required:
They didn't know whether (not as) they could be there.
Do not use as instead of for or because:
We were uneasy, for (not as) it was our first visit.
Because (not as) we were uneasy, we said nothing to the man,
In negative comparisons use the correlatives so . . . as rather than as . . . as:
He is not so young as he was.
For prepositional misuse see like.

at about

Do not substitute at about for about:
The party will begin about (not at about) four.


These words are overworked:
His disappointment was intense (not awful).
We had an exceedingly (not awfully) enjoyable round of golf.


Do not confuse balance and expressions such as "the rest" or "the others."
Twenty students were present; the others (not the balance) were ill.
The rest (not balance) of the day we shall spend in the garden.

being as,
being that

These are improper expressions intended to mean since or because:
Because (not Being as) he was only fifteen, he could not enlist.


Do not confuse these words. Beside is a preposition:
I stood beside a tall man ("by the side of").
Besides, an adverb or preposition, means "in addition to, moreover, or except."
Besides understanding French, he speaks and writes Italian and Spanish.

blame it on

Use blame or blame (someone) for.
CORRECT: We blamed him for the failure of our plan.
INCORRECT: We blamed the failure on him.
INCORRECT: Blame for the failure was laid on him.


This is slang for intelligent.
My father is an expert (not brainy) accountant.


Do not use bunch as a loose synonym for set, clique, group of people, or crowd.


Incorrect synonym for right:
He thought they had no right (not business) to interfere.


Incorrect equivalents of burst.

but what,
but that

But often has negative force:
They had no doubt that (not but that) he could make it.


A colloquialism in the sense "to think" or "to expect" to "to plan":
I think (not calculate) that it should be ready by Friday.


Can implies ability to do something; may implies permission granted or possibility:
He may do it if all goes well; I know that he can do it.

cannot help but

This expression should be followed by the participle:
I cannot help feeling (not but feel) sorry for them.
Can but feel is somewhat formal:
I can but feel unhappy about it.

center about,
center around

Prefer the expressions center on or center upon.


Do not overwork certainly as an intensive:
He looked most unhappy. (Not "He certainly looked unhappy.")


Claim means "demand as one's own or as a right." Do not use it as a loose synonym for say, assert, or maintain:
He maintains (not claims) that he was at home all evening.


Combine is a verb, not a noun. Most dictionaries label as colloquial the noun combine meaning "combination of persons or organizations."


Mutual means "reciprocal." Common means "belonging to many or to all."


Company is an informal or colloquial expression for visitors or guests.

compare to,
compare with

Compare to suggests that two things may be comparable; compare with suggests a detailed comparison in which resemblances or lack of resemblances are pointed out.
The author compares life to a journey. Compare Albert's story of what happened with Esther's.


Do not use complected to mean complexioned:
A dark-complexioned (not dark-complected) woman left the house.


This adjective must not be used as an adverb:
She was considerably (not considerable) upset at the news.
Do not use considerable to mean "much":
Much (not considerable) time was spent making plans.


Contrary means "opposite."
I was of the contrary opinion.
Do not use it to mean "obstinate" or "perverse."
Tommy is a vexatious (not contrary) boy.

could of

This is incorrect for could have. Similar expressions, also to be avoided, are would of, might of, had of:
He could have (not could of) been here on time if he had (not had of) started earlier.


Do not use couple for more than two, or for some indefinite number:
Some (not A couple) of my friends are in the army.
CORRECT: We know a married couple in Scarsdale.


These words are plurals of datum, phenomenon, and stratum:
RIGHT: His data for the paper are correct.
RIGHT: The strata in this cliff are being investigated by geologists.


This is a colloquialism used to mean appointment, casual meeting, or engagement.
I have an appointment (not a date) with the dentist at ten.


This noun is a slang word for business or political transaction or bargain. New deal is a figurative use borrowed from card-playing. Such well-known expressions as "a good deal" or "a great deal" are sometimes acceptable:
RIGHT: Mary talks a great deal.
INADVISABLE: She is a good deal like her mother.

die with

If we are stating the cause of death, we must use die of, die by, die from, or die through:
James died of (not died with) pneumonia.

differ with,
differ from

not different than
Than is not a preposition
To express unlikeness, use differ from; to express disagreement, use differ with:
American English differs from the British English.
We differ with them on several points.

different than

The correct idiom is different from:
Middletown was different from (not different than) other small villages in a number of ways. Than is not a preposition.


The contracted form of does not is doesn't:
He doesn't (not don't) like golf.


Uncertainty is expressed by doubt whether . . . or:
I doubt whether she will be on time or not.
Strong negative probability is expressed by doubt that:
I doubt very much that she will come.


The past participle of the verb dive is dived:
My young brother dived (not dove) from the highest diving-board.

due to,
owing to,
caused by

These expressions must follow some form of the verb to be. For a preposition which has the meaning of these expressions, use either because of or on account of.
Because of (not Due to) conditions beyond our control we must interrupt the broadcast.

each other,
one another

Each other implies two persons; one another implies more than two:
My brother and sister get along with each other fairly well.
My two brothers and my cousin are always quarreling with one another.


These words, and the corresponding nouns emigrant and immigrant must be carefully distinguished. To emigrate means "to go out from"; to immigrate means "to go into."


This is an abbreviation of the Latin et cetera. Do not use a needless and, as in the faulty expression and etc. (See also)

equally as good

Improper for equally good:
The speeches were equally good (not equally as good)


Do not use except as a conjunction to mean "unless."
I won't go unless (not except) you will, too.


Do not use expect as a synonym for suspect or suppose:
I suppose (not expect) he will have a good story to tell us.
Expect means "to look forward to" or "to hope."
I expect to see you tomorrow at the store.


Do not use extra as a synonym for unusually or extremely:
She is looking extremely (not extra) well today.


Farther is a matter of distance or a more remote point or a more advanced point.
Further is a matter of degree or being more distant in degree or being additional or greater in extent.
He hit the ball farther (not further) than ever.
Your money will go further (not farther) at our bank.


Do not misuse this word. Except in special usages, say one, man, person, boy, or sweetheart:
Sadie has a new sweetheart (not fellow).
I told Mr. Walters about a man (not fellow) I met last summer.


Fewer refers especially to number; less is used
with words expressing degree or quantity:
There have been fewer (not less) street accidents this year.
We have less coal now than we had last year at this


Fix is not to be used instead of the nouns predicament and condition:
He found himself in a dangerous predicament (not fix).
The verb to fix means "to fasten or attach securely." Do not use it instead of repair, mend, or arrange:
Joe will repair (not fix) the clock. I'll arrange (not fix) things for you.


Use former and latter in reference to two per sons or things; as a general rule, use first and last for more than two.
The latter half of his talk was amusing.
The first to arrive was William. George came in five minutes later, and Bill was the last to get there.


Funny means "comical." Do not use it as a loose synonym for queer, odd, strange, remarkable, or unusual:
Hearing about automobile accidents always has an odd (not funny) effect on me.


Do not use the adjective good when the adverb well is required:
Sam speaks French very well (not good).
Well can also be an adjective:
Mother is well, thank you.


The principal parts of get are get, got, got. Gotten is no longer acceptable as a past participle, although the expression ill-gotten is still heard.
Have they got (not gotten) around to doing it yet?
American usage regards "have got" as colloquial: Have you any news for me?
(NOT: Have you got any news for me?)


The verb guess means "to conjecture." Do not use it to mean "think" or "suppose."
I think (not guess) it will run all right now.

had of

See could of.


Hanged means "put to death by hanging."
The murderer was hanged (not hung) last week.
Hung is the proper past participle in other situations:
He had hung his hat on the third hook upon entering.

have got to

Do not use have got to to mean "must."

I must (not have got to) hurry if I am to catch the train.


Distinguish between these words:
The boy is healthy.
Walking is a healthful pastime.


Human is an adjective. Do not use it as a noun:
He said that human beings (not humans) are often unreasonable.


Careful writers and speakers use whether rather than if after verbs of doubting, seeing, knowing, and the like:
CORRECT: She was not sure whether her mother would approve or not.
ALSO CORRECT: She was not sure whether her mother would approve.


Do not use immediately as a conjunction. Use as soon as:
I'll let you know as soon as (not immediate) I hear from him.


Some constructions require one rather than the other of these words:
He backed the car into (not in) the garage.
He then walked into (not in) the house.
He usually gets in late.
He leaves his overcoat in the vestibule.

in back of

Prefer back of, behind, or at the back of:
The tennis court is behind (not in back of) the house.


Do not use these words as loose synonyms for man, person, woman, and the like:
He is a strange person (not individual).
Party suggests a group:
They held the train for a man (not party) of fifty.
Party also has a legal meaning, as in "party of the first part."
Use individual to point a contrast to a group:
I like the students as individuals, but I dislike them as a group.

inferior than

The correct expression is inferior to:
His training has been inferior to (not than) his brother's.


Ingenious means "clever, talented, skillful."
Ingenuous means "frank, open, naïve."
Most inventors are ingenious (not ingenuous) persons.

inside of

In expressions of time, use within instead of inside of:
Can you meet me within (not inside of) an hour?

is when,
is where

When and where introduce adverbial clauses. Do not use them to introduce predicate nominatives:
A gazetteer is a list of geographical items.
(NOT: A gazetteer is where you find geographical items.)
Rhyme is the correspondence of two final sounds.
(NOT: Rhyme is when two sounds correspond)


Its is the possessive of it. It's is a contraction of it is:
When he saw my tie, he said, "It's an unusual one, but I like its color."


Avoid using just as an intensive:
I think your idea is a splendid one.
(NOT: I think your idea is just splendid.)


Kind and sort are singular nouns:
Betty prefers this (not these) kind of silk stockings.
Her father objects to this sort of idea.
(NOT: Her father objects to these sort of ideas.)

kind of a,
sort of a

As adjective phrases, kind of and sort of are followed by nouns:
This is the sort of (not sort of a) day I like.
What kind of (not kind of a) person do you think I am?
Use rather, somewhat, and the like in adverbial functions:
I was somewhat (not kind of) disappointed.


Last is used in several ways; latest is used to mean "most recent" in order of time:
The latest ("most recent") news we have had about him was in last month's letter from Arizona.
He was last seen getting off the train.
The last letter he ever wrote was dated in April.


Lay is transitive and means "to put down." Lie is intransitive and means "to recline." The principal parts of lay are lay, laid, laid. The principal parts of lie are lie, lay, lain.
I shall lay the blanket on the floor and then I shall lie on it.
I have lain on it many times before.
The first time I laid it on the floor was the day we moved in.
I lay on it for two hours that time.


Led is the past tense and past participle of the verb to lead:
We must lead the child by the hand.
I led him by the hand last week.
I have led (not lead ) him by the hand many times.


These words are often confused:
Let (not Leave) her have her own way.
We shall leave her to her own devices.
Before you leave, let me give you a road-map.


See lead.

as if

Like is a preposition:
Jimmy looks like (not as) me.
As and as if are conjunctions:
It looks as if (not like) we are going to have trouble.
I wish I could play golf like my father.
I wish I could play the game as my father plays it.


Do not use loan as a verb:
Lend (not Loan) me your fountain pen for a moment, will you?
The bank will lend (not loan) you the money.
Why don't you apply for a loan?


Do not use locate to mean "settle in a place" or "find."
They intend to settle (not locate) in Ohio.
I can't seem to find (not locate) my galoshes.


These words are often incorrectly used for each other:
I'm afraid they will lose (not loose) their way.
Loose (not Lose) the dog.
Turn the dog loose (not lose).

lots of

These are colloquialisms for many or much:
Much (not A lot) of his trouble arises from his home life.
She told us that many (not lots of ) people objected to the newspaper report.


Mad means "insane." Avoid using it to mean "angry."
The poor man was clearly mad when he committed the murder.
She has been angry with (not mad at) me for days.


Mean as an adjective suggests poor circumstances or something common, vulgar, or ignoble. Do not use it in formal writing to mean "irritable, selfish, or malicious." That was an unkind (not mean) thing to do.

might of

See could of.


A colloquialism for very or exceedingly. Properly, mighty means "of great size or bulk or power."
The smith a mighty man was he.
This is a very fine (not mighty fine) book.


Do not confuse these words:
Which of you boys has the most money?
My mother is almost (not most) always willing to chat with him.
She sees him almost (not most) every week.


Properly, nice means "discriminating, fastidious, subtle, or precise." Avoid using it to mean "pleasant, agreeable, or delightful."
There is a nice distinction between the two words.
He has a nice taste in wines.
The dinner was an enjoyable (not nice) one.
Yesterday was a pleasant (not nice) day.

no place

See place.


Out is often added unnecessarily:
Do you think he will lose (not lose out)?

out loud

The correct expression is aloud:
The teacher read the letter aloud (not out loud).

outside of

Do not use this expression to mean "except for."
Except for (not Outside of) the clothes on my back, I have lost everything.


Do not use over to mean "more than."
I haven't read it for more than (not over) ten years.

over with

Use over.
The play was over (not over with) at ten-thirty.

per cent,

Use per cent only after numerals. Percentage may be used to mean "proportion."
Sixty per cent of the money went for expenses.
The auditors thought this a larger percentage than necessary.


Do not use piece to mean "a short distance."


Do not use place to mean "where":
Anywhere (not any place)
Nowhere (not no place)
Somewhere (not some place)


Do not use the noun plenty as an adverb:
The seat is quite wide enough (not plenty wide enough) for three persons.


Prefer not well or in poor health.


Postal is an adjective, as in postal card.
Post card is an acceptable form.
How many words can you put on a post card (not postal)?


The correct form is prefer to, not prefer than:
We prefer fishing to (not than) hunting.


These words are often confused. Principal is correctly used as a noun or adjective to mean "chief" or "chief teacher or official." Mrs. Williams is the principal of the girls' school.
Principle is a noun meaning "a fundamental truth or primary law." It is the principle (not principal) of the thing.


Avoid the slang use of prospect to mean "prospective buyer" or "one likely to do something."
He has a list of likely contributors (not prospects).


The past participle of prove is proved. Prefer proved to proven in all constructions.
He is a man of proved (not proven) ability.
She has proved (not proven) a great help to him.

put in,

Put in to mean "devote, make, or spend" is colloquial. Put over and put across are slang.
Do you think he will spend (not put in) more than three hours on the job?


Properly, this adverb means "completely" or "entirely."
I have quite finished.
Colloquially, it is used to mean "rather" or "very" or "to a great extent."
His home is quite near (very near) to his office.
Quite a few, quite a while are colloquialisms.


Prefer rear to raise if the meaning intended is "to educate or take care of children.'


Raise is transitive; rise is intransitive.
Raise your right hand.
When your name is called, please rise.

rarely ever

See seldom ever.


Do not use real as an intensive, for emphasis:
We had a very (not real or really) enjoyable trip.

reason is because

The correct form is "the reason is that."


Reckon is dialectal for suppose, think, guess:
I think (not reckon) I'll be able to do it.

refer back,
repeat again

The words back and again are unnecessary:
I want you to refer (not refer back) to page two.
Will you please repeat that?
(Not: Will you please repeat that again?)


The acceptable idioms are in regard to, with regard to, as regards, and with respect to.


A verb of doubtful standing used to mean "indulge in reminiscences."


The expressions right away, right off, right smart, and right along are colloquialisms.


Informal or colloquial for the verbs manage, control, conduct, or amount to:
He managed (not ran) the business for his father.


Business or legal jargon for it, this, that, one, and the like:
He found the watch and returned it (not same) to the owner.

same as

This is a colloquialism used to mean "just as" or "in the same way as."
He feels just as (not the same as) I do about the new tax.

seldom ever,
seldom or ever

The correct expressions are seldom, seldom if ever, seldom or never, hardly ever.
They seldom (not seldom ever) go to the theater.
Frank seldom if ever (not seldom ever) reads a book.


Set is a transitive verb; sit is intransitive. The principal parts of set are set, set, set. The principal parts of sit are sit, sat, sat.
I asked my sister to set the table.
Then I invited our guests to sit down.
Father sat in his usual chair at the head of the table.
During his absence, I had sat there several times.
Whenever I set the table, I always get things wrong.


Colloquial for play, operatic performance, public performance, moving picture:
He hasn't been to a play (not show) for three months.
A spectacle or pageant may be called a show.
Show is also used colloquially for opportunity or chance.

show up

Colloquial for expose, appear, arrive:
The investigating committee will expose (not show up) the corruption in the city government.
Do you think the doctor will arrive (not show up) in time?

size up

Colloquial or slang for appraise or estimate:
Michael quickly estimated ( not sized up) his chances for success.


Do not use so as an intensive:
They are very (not so) excited today.
Do not use so for so that or and so:

The game was over at five, and so (not so) we left at once.
We went home immediately so that (not so) we could hear the news broadcast at six.


Do not use some to mean "somewhat."
The car is running somewhat (not some) better.
Some as an intensive is slang:
This is some game!

some place

See place.


Species means "a kind" or "a class." It is both singular and plural:
The collection contains one rare species (not specie) of hawks and three species of eagles.
Specie means "coined money."


Colloquial of British for stay or visit:
He is staying (not stopping) with relatives.


Do not use such as an intensive:
She has excellent (not such) taste in clothes.
Distinguish between such . . . that and such . . . as:
Friday was such a fine day that I visited the zoo.
Such talent as he shows ought to be developed.

superior than

The correct idiom is superior to.


Colloquial and informal equivalent of certainly, surely, indeed, and the like:
It certainly (not sure) is a hard problem.
Sure is slang for yes:
Can you manage it? Sure.


Use suspect.
They suspected (not suspicioned) that he was lying.


Colloquialisms involving take include:
to take in for to deceive or to attend
to take sick
for to become ill
to take off
for to ridicule or to parody
to take on
for to act violently
to take stock in
for to rely on
to take on too much work
for to attempt too much

take and

See try and.


Tend is followed by a direct object; attend is followed by to:
Please attend to the matter at once.
Bessie always tends (not tends to) the children.


Do not use these words as mere intensives.
We are extremely (not terribly) late.


Prefer the word finished:
Have you finished with the paper?
(Not: Are you through with the paper?)


Transpire means "to become known" or "to come to light" or "to exhale." Do not use it to mean "happen" or "occur."
What he did after that has not transpired.
The accident happened (not transpired) at five minutes to four.

try and,
sure and

These are colloquialisms for try to and sure to:
Be sure to (not sure and) be there by six.
I'll try to (not try and) get there promptly.


Do not confuse these words. Disinterested means "unbiased" or "impartial." Uninterested means "indifferent" or "taking no interest in."
The judge was disinterested.
The spectators were not uninterested in the outcome.


Unique means "the one of its kind."
His hobby is, I think, unique.
Do not use unique carelessly to mean "odd" or "unusual."


This adverb is frequently added in colloquial speech. Avoid the following in formal writing:
divide up, finish up, fold up, settle up, end up, rest up, listen up. Up is correct in such expressions as wake up, hang up, dig up.

up until

Prefer until:
I was doing well until (not up until) last year.

wait on

Do not use wait on to mean "wait for" or "await."
What are you waiting for?
(Not: What are you waiting on?)


The verb want cannot take a clause:
They wanted him to go to camp.
(Not: They wanted that he should go to camp.)
Do not use want in to mean "want to get in."
Do not use want to for should:
You should (not want to) be careful crossing streets.


Do not use way to mean condition.
The patient is in a bad condition (not way).
Do not use way for away:
I saw her away (not way) down the street.
Do not use ways for distance:
I noticed her when she was a great distance (not ways) off.


Do not use while as a conjunction unless the intended meaning is "during the time that."
I'll get the fire going while you peel the potatoes.


Wire is colloquial for telegram or telegraph.


Do not use without to mean unless:
I can't finish unless (not without) you help me.

worst way,
worst kind,
worst sort

These are colloquialisms for very much or very difficult:
This is a very difficult (not the worst kind of a) book.

would have

In conditional clauses, use had:
If he had (not would have) stayed at home, it would not have happened at all.

would of

The correct form is would have:
They would have (not would of) been able to come had it not been for the storm.

See could of.

you all,
we all

These are Southern colloquialisms for you (plural) and we.