The Worst is Yet to Come

Image

BAD > WORSE > WORST

Most people know the difference between bad and worse and the difference between bad and worst. However, the difference between worse and worst can be a little more difficult. I attribute this to how similar the words sound when you speak them aloud. You can get away with saying “worse” when you mean “worst” and vice versa because they sound alike. However, they are definitely different words with different meanings so you want to be sure you know how to use them correctly. You may get away with it in spoken language, but your error is easily spotted in writing.

Note that this is one of those cases where spell-check probably won’t correct you, so you need to know which word to use.

Worse

Worse should be used when comparing two things that are bad. One thing is worse than the other.

Worse: (comparative) A comparative of bad; less good; lower quality

 

Worse

Worst

Worst should be used to describe the thing that is the most bad out of multiple choices or situations.

Worst: (superlative) Most severe; most unpleasant

Worst

Why so complicated?

Most comparatives/superlatives follow the same pattern as the below:

Easy > Easier > Easiest

However, worse and worst are irregular so they don’t follow the “er” then “est” rule.

Bad > Worse > Worst

(Remember the only rule in grammar without an exception is the one that states that there is an exception to every rule in grammar.)

Common phrases

The worst is yet to come.

This phrase means that the most unfortunate of all things is coming soon. Not just something worse than the thing before, but the absolute worst of all things. Thus, the correct word here is worst.

Consider the worst-case scenario. What’s the worst that could happen?

These phrases are both referring to the most terrible outcome imaginable. Therefore, the correct word is worst. You can’t get worse than the worst.

Quick Tip

Only use “worst” if there is nothing that could be any more horrific. Therefore, the worst is the least desirable. It is also the most horrible. Worst, least and most all end in “st.”

So next time you’re comparing your old hairstyles on Throwback Thursday, make sure you know when a style was worse than the one you have now and which was the worst of all time.

If you need a little help catching errors like worse vs. worst, reach out to Unscripted for a helping hand.

Is Spell-Check Good Enough?

While everyone is busy working on those Christmas letters and and cards, I think a quick reminder about the flaws of spell-check and the value of proofreading is in order.

Unscripted, LLC

ABC Check

So you ran your manuscript through spell-check and meticulously corrected every error. Thus, it has officially been edited…right? Sorry.

There is nothing more important than a human-eye review.

I repeat: Nothing is more important than having a human review your work.

What’s wrong with spell-check?

Using the spell-checking feature on your computer is absolutely the first step you should take before finalizing a manuscript (or email or newsletter or anything else). However, there are plenty of major errors that a computer just won’t catch.

Homonyms

Humans have a hard enough time noticing homonyms. (Homonyms=words that are pronounced the same but spelled differently or contain different meanings.) We can’t expect a computer to catch these for us.

HomonymsNumbers

If you misspell a number, spell-check will correct it because it is a word. However, if you mistype a number then spell-check won’t know that it is incorrect.

NumbersMissing Words

It is easy…

View original post 191 more words

The Addamseses’s…or Not

addams-family-poster

If the Addams family hosted a dinner party, would the invitation say:

    A. Held at the Addams residence

    B. Held at the Addamses residence

    C. Held at the Addams’s residence

    D. Held at the Addamses’ residence

    E. Held at the Addamseses’s residence

If you chose “D,” then you’re a rock star.

Let’s break it down.

You are trying to make the name both plural (it is the residence of the entire family) and possessive (the residence is owned by the Addams family).

    A. Addams

They are the Addams family. Their last name is Addams (not Addam), just like any other last name. (Smith, Maxwell, Sugarberry…you get the idea.) Answer “A” is only listing the family name of Addams; it does not convey it as plural or possessive.

    B. Addamses

This one is closer. To show that a name ending in “s” is plural, you add “es.” If you chose “B” then you were on the right track. This is true to show plurality for all names ending in “s.” If your two best friends are both named James, you would say, “I’m hanging out with the Jameses after school today.” However, Addamses does not show the possession we’re looking for in this example.

    C. Addams’s

If you chose “C,” then your head was in the right place. You do want Addams to show possession and you do that by adding an apostrophe. However, because Addams ends in “s” you have to add the “es” first to make it plural. Otherwise, you’re saying that the party will be held at the Addam family residence and who has ever heard of the Addam family? Don’t go to parties at the homes of strangers.

    D. Addamses’

Correct! Step 1. Make it plural: Addamses. Step 2. Make it possessive: Addamses’.

Since Addams already ends in “s,” you must add “es” to make it plural. In order to pluralize a name that ends in “s” (both Addams and Addamses), you add an apostrophe. You do not need another “s” or you will get tongue-tied trying to pronounce the name. (Try it out loud; no one will hear you.) You only add an “s” after the apostrophe to make a singular noun possessive. For example, you’re going to Wednesday Addams’s home. There is only one Wednesday Addams so in this case, the name is singular and possessive so you need the “s” after the apostrophe. Since Addamses is plural, you only need the apostrophe. (Note that the pronunciation in both cases is the same.)

    E. Addamseses’s

Just look at this spelling. This is the spelling of someone who threw in the towel on the whole plural, possessive, ends in “s” thing. This is the equivalent of pluralizing the word “moose” as “meeses.” (By the way, the plural of moose…is moose.) As we learned, the plural of Addams is Addamses, so that was a good start. Because Addamses is plural, the possessive is Addamses’. The extra “s” after the apostrophe is incorrect because the noun is not singular. That is an understandable mistake though. The big problem here is the extra “es” thrown in there. I can’t explain that one.

In Conclusion

To pluralize a name that ends in “s” you must add “es.” [All of the Addamses will be there.]

To show possession with a plural noun that ends in “s,” you simply add an apostrophe. [The Sludges’ car is parked outside.]

You add an apostrophe and then “s” to show possession if the noun is singular. [Don’t touch Wednesday Addams’s chainsaw.]

To show that a name ending in “s” is both plural and possessive, you add “es” and then an apostrophe. [We’ll see you at the Addamses’ house.]

More Examples

Examples

And from the mouth of Charles Addams, “Normal is an illusion. What is normal for the spider is chaos for the fly.”

If this blog has you questioning all the things you thought you knew in life, contact Unscripted for some help sorting it all out before you mail those Christmas cards.

Contact Unscripted

Don’t be a stranger!

There are several ways to contact Unscripted. Here are a few:

Comment on a blog post. The Comment option is in the top right corner of every post.

Example:  Comment Example

Leave a message through the Contact page of the Unscripted website. This will appear just like an email so you’re sure to receive a response.

Private message Unscripted through Facebook. You can also comment on the Unscripted Facebook page.

Send a message through LinkedIn. You can comment on the Unscripted LinkedIn page as well.

Send a direct email to cporter@unscriptedllc.com. There is just something satisfying about that electronic paper trail.

Send in blog suggestions, feedback or criticism. Ask for an opinion about grammar, writing or marketing. Complain to me about the complications of the English language. Ask for a quote or estimate for a project. Tell me what you had for dinner last night. You send it and I’ll respond. (Unless you send actual spam mail…then my spam blocker will just delete it.)

Keyboard Notebook

Commonly Confused Words

Ghost

These are words that we’ve probably all misused at some point in our lives (even if we don’t admit it). They’re the words that we read 17 times while we’re proofing our work before we catch the error. Review the below just to make sure you’re not caught using the wrong word when it really matters.

Accept / Except

If you need some more clarification on this one, check out the previous blog about these particular homophones. These two words are always at the top of the list so they are worth mentioning twice.

Accept: Receive or Include

Except: Apart From or Excluding

Accept-Except

Advice / Advise

Advise is one of those words that spell-check may not recognize. However, it is a word and it does not have the same meaning as “advice.”

Advice: Guidance or Direction

Advise: Recommend

Advice-Advise

Assent / Ascent

Assent: Acceptance or Agreement

Ascent: Climbing Up or Rising

Assent-Ascent

Bare / Bear

Bare: Uncovered

Bear: To Carry; The Furry Mammal

Bare-Bear

Brake / Break

Brake: A Device for Stopping

Break: To Separate; A Pause

Brake-Break

Coarse / Course

Coarse: Rough or Uneven

Course: Passage; Subject of Learning

Coarse-Course

Complement / Compliment

Complement: Accompaniment or Match

Compliment: Praise or Accolade

Complement-Compliment

Ensure / Insure

This is another one that merits mentioning twice. For more detailed information, check out the Assure, Insure or Ensure? blog.

Ensure: Certify or Guarantee

Insure: To Cover or Protect (Financially)

Ensure-Insure

Loose / Lose

Loose: Moveable or Unfastened

Lose: To Misplace; To Fail

Loose-Lose

Stationary / Stationery

Stationary: Motionless or Static

Stationery: Writing Materials

Stationary-Stationery

These are only a few of the most commonly confused words in the English language. Reach out to Unscripted for guidance as you navigate through writing, reading or speaking English.

Oops

Commonly Misused Words (and their actual meanings)

easily-consused-words-3

Understanding all the ins and outs of the English language is about as easy as walking a tight rope that has lost its tension. Here are a few of the most commonly abused, confused and misused words out there.

Adverse

Correct Meaning: Contrary, Opposing

Incorrect Meaning: Averse

Adverse

Bemused

Correct Meaning: Confused or Bewildered

Incorrect Meaning: Amused

Bemused

Disinterested

Correct Meaning: Neutral or Impartial

Incorrect Meaning: Uninterested

Disinterested

Enormity

Correct Meaning: Evil or Wickedness

Incorrect Meaning: Enormousness

Enormity

Fortuitous

Correct Meaning: Unplanned or Unexpected

Incorrect Meaning: Fortunate

Fortuitous

Irregardless

Correct Meaning: —— (crickets chirping)

Incorrect Meaning: Regardless or Irrespective

Irregardless

Also check out the previous blog for Five Common Grammar Mistakes.

For another set of eyes to review your word choices, contact Unscripted today.

a7c413e29fbef2349c372df599636344--quizes-you-and-me

Than or Then?

Then or Than Image

Well, I think the image says it all.

Than

ASK: Are you comparing something?

Than means “in relation to” or “compared to.”

Examples:

Than

Then

ASK: Are you talking about time?

Then means “at a specific time” or “next.”

Then

The TRICK:

Than = Comparison

Then = Time

It’s all in the spelling. Than and Compare both have As in them (and no E) while Then and Time both have Es (and no A).

When in doubt, reach out through the contact page with a question or comment (top right corner) on this blog with a question or remark.

Fewer or Less?

Checkout Meme

I have altered plenty of grammatically incorrect, publicly displayed, signs in my day but I have refrained from modifying the many incorrect grocery store checkout signs…so far.

Do you know when to say fewer and when to say less? Like many of the everyday grammar rules, there is an easy way to remember this one.

Fewer or Less

Easy right?

Fewer

Again, if you can count it, the correct term is probably “fewer.” You can count items at the grocery store so the sign should really say: 10 Items or Fewer.

Fewer

Less

Not everything can be counted. When referring to items that you cannot count, the correct term is “less.”

Less

 The Exceptions

In this case, the exceptions have their own rule:

Distance, Money, Time and Weight are always “less,” never “fewer.”

Exceptions

Those rules aren’t so difficult, are they?

If you have an example of a case that doesn’t follow the rule or the exception, let us know in the comments. (You can comment from the upper right corner of this page.)

Contact Unscripted for help with all things related to grammar, writing, editing and so forth.

Prettiest but Most Beautiful. Greatest but Most Fantastic…What’s the Deal?

Words Blob

Why can’t I say beautifullest or most great? Who makes these rules anyway?

When to Use -est

I try to stay away from complicated explanations that use terms like “superlative” and “adverb” so I’m going to tell it to you straight.

The suffix -est is typically used instead of most in single-syllable words and words that end in -y.

Est

When to Use Most

Putting most before a word instead of adding the suffix -est is typically appropriate when the word contains more than one syllable.

Most

The Dreaded Exceptions

Remember…all decent grammar rules have exceptions.

Irregular adjectives (some random words) tend to use most instead of -est, even if they are only one syllable. And some random words will end in -est instead of using the word most, even if they are more than one syllable.

Random

My personal favorites are the words that change completely.

Change

And don’t forget the words that use neither -est nor more.

None

It’s a crazy world out there.

 

For help with word-choices, proofreading or anything else related to the mud-maze that is the English language, contact Unscripted.

Know the Difference Between Literally and Figuratively

Literally CHILLin’ Figuratively CHILLin’

Meme

Literally or Figuratively?

These terms are sometimes used interchangeably, but they actually have very different meanings.

Definitions

Literally

Literally should only be used to describe a true situation.

Literally Correct

The examples above are describing actual situations that happened exactly as explained.

Literally Incorrect

These examples (above) are untrue and therefore are not literal scenarios.

Figuratively

Figuratively Correct

The examples above are not true. Therefore, the term “figuratively” correctly describes these situations.

Figuratively Incorrect

These examples (above) are facts. Thus, “literally” should have been used because “figuratively” should only be used symbolically.

Although people often use “literally” to mean both actually and symbolically, the term has only one correct definition.

So is the whole world wrong?

The easy answer is “yes.” Figuratively should be used for metaphors and hyperboles, while literally should be reserved only for true statements.

However, I’ve never heard anyone say, “Traffic was so terrible that I figuratively died of old age before I made it home.” People just don’t use “figuratively” in daily speech. Does that mean that no one on this planet understands the meaning of the word?

Of course not. In my opinion, people say, “I literally died of old age while sitting in traffic” in the same way that they would say, “I spent 1000 hours in the car trying to get home from work today.” The term “literally” is simply used in daily speech as an exaggeration. No one means they actually died when they say they literally died because, of course, people can’t speak once they’re dead.

While “figuratively” should be used for these exaggerations, the term just doesn’t have the same effect as “literally.” After all, people really only exaggerate for effect, right? Sorry fellow grammar Nazis.

Think of the difference between these two exaggerations:

Waves example

While in reality the waves were only six feet high, which statement really drives the point home? I think of using “literally” versus “figuratively” in an exaggeration in the same way. Sure, you could say, “I’m so hungry I could figuratively eat 12 large pizzas.” But does it really make you sound as famished as, “I’m so hungry I could literally eat 12 large pizzas?”

pizza

In conclusion…

Do I notice when someone says “literally” and probably means “figuratively?” Of course, I am a certified grammar Nazi after all. Do I assume that person does not understand the meaning of the word he used? No. In most cases, the individual is just trying to make a point through exaggeration.

Then why bother?

It is still important to know the difference between “literally” and “figuratively.” You certainly don’t want to get them wrong in your writing or unintentionally use the wrong term in a professional situation.

Thomas Edison quote

If there are any words that you find particularly confusing, let me know in the comments. (Choose COMMENT in the top right corner of this blog.) You just might see it addressed in another blog.

For any editing, grammar, writing or website assistance, shoot a note to Unscripted through the Contact page.

Know When to Replace a Word

At some point, most writers find themselves stuck trying to choose the perfect word to complete a thought. Whether you think you finally found it or not, here are a few situations when you just need to choose again.

Unsure Spelling

Word Replacement

Very few people find themselves writing without a computer these days. However, if you end up taking notes for your boss or drafting a hand-written poem for your girlfriend and there is no spell check available, please consider using easy words. It is not the complexity of the words that makes your composition great, but rather the way you put them together.

Misspelled Words

If you’re not sure about the spelling of a particular word, just replace it with an easier one. There is always another way to say the same thing.

Baltasar Quote

Unsure Meaning

Just like spelling, if you’re not 100% sure of the meaning of a word, just replace it with one you know for sure.

Misused Words

(Check out Unscripted’s blog on Assure, Insure and Ensure.)

You get the idea. If you’re not sure how to use the word correctly, just pick a different one.

Clarity

Vague word choices can leave readers questioning your meaning and your overall writing. Don’t leave them in the dark. Proofread your work for clarity and replace any words that seem too vague.

Vague Words

These words can describe a myriad of things. Be more specific about your particular meaning. (Think: How many is “a few?”)

Simplicity

Don’t be afraid of “simple” words. Sometimes the easiest word is the best choice. Few manuscripts are less pleasant to read than those packed with over-complicated words. Too many multi-syllable or uncommon words in a row can add confusion and take away from the overall meaning of the sentence/paragraph/document.

Complicated Words

Of course, there are instances when complex words are the most appropriate. Just try not to cram your writing with too many of them at a time.

C.S. Lewis Quote

 

Contact Unscripted for help choosing the right word or phrase, or for any other type of editing assistance.

But Could You Care Less?

Welcome to the never-ending argument of “could care less” versus “couldn’t care less.”

Which phrase is correct?

Let’s cut to the core of the phrases.

Could Care Less

To say you could care less literally (not figuratively) means that you care at least some and therefore could care less than you do. The use of “could care less” would be warranted if you meant you cared a lot about something and wish you didn’t care so much.

Could Care Less

Couldn’t Care Less

This is usually the intended phrase.

To say you couldn’t care less means that you do not care at all. There is no room for less caring than not caring at all.

Couldn't Care Less

So why do both phrases exist?

Some people think “could care less” evolved from “couldn’t care less” when people got too lazy to say the full phrase. Perhaps, some people do not consider the technical meaning of the phrases and don’t realize there is a difference between them. Don’t be one of those people.

 

Quote

 

If you need a little more help with the twists and turns of the English language, seek assistance from Unscripted by visiting the Contact page.

Homophone Help: Accept vs. Except

accept_except

Here’s to great ideas from blog followers!

Homophones are some of the most confusing words in the English language. A homophone is a word that sounds the same as another word but is spelled differently and likely has a different meaning.

Accept vs. Except

Accept and Except are generally pronounced the same, despite the “ax” sound in accept and the “ex” in except.

1

Accept

Accept is correctly used as a verb meaning to receive, agree or include.

2

Except

Except can be a preposition (meaning apart from), conjunction (meaning but) or verb (meaning excluding).

3

The Easy-to-Remember Trick

Except = Ex

To except is to exclude.

Ex-boyfriend, ex-teammate, ex-partner…

You exclude your ex from everything, right? So when you’re meaning to exclude (such as in the examples above), think of the “ex” in exclude. If you’re trying to receive or include, then “ex-cept” is not the right choice and you want to use “accept” instead.

 

If you need some help with word choice or scanning your document for homophone errors, contact Unscripted any time.

I Don’t Know…Can You?

Meme

Maybe it’s due to the elementary school I attended, but whenever I hear someone ask “Can I…[fill in the blank],” my mind immediately responds with, “I don’t know…can you?”

Let me explain.

“Can” is formally used when asking about ability while “may” is used when requesting something.

Can May

Thus, if your friend asks, “Can I have another cookie?” you might feel justified to respond with, “I don’t know, can you?” Your friend is clearly requesting seconds while the response is questioning her ability to physically handle another cookie.

So which term is correct?

Examples

Sticklers for proper grammar (like myself) will always say “may” when making a request and “can” when asking about ability.

 The Dreaded Exception

Much to my dismay, the English language has evolved to allow the use of “can” when making a request in informal situations. Therefore, the friend asking if she can have another cookie is not technically incorrect. However, if you are writing or speaking in a business or educational situation (such as an email at work, your thesis paper or in a speech), stick with “may” when asking permission and “can” when asking about ability.

Exceptions

If you are not sure if you chose the correct word or you’re worried that you missed something during your initial review, contact Unscripted for a light edit.

Is Spell-Check Good Enough?

ABC Check

So you ran your manuscript through spell-check and meticulously corrected every error. Thus, it has officially been edited…right? Sorry.

There is nothing more important than a human-eye review.

I repeat: Nothing is more important than having a human review your work.

What’s wrong with spell-check?

Using the spell-checking feature on your computer is absolutely the first step you should take before finalizing a manuscript (or email or newsletter or anything else). However, there are plenty of major errors that a computer just won’t catch.

Homonyms

Humans have a hard enough time noticing homonyms. (Homonyms=words that are pronounced the same but spelled differently or contain different meanings.) We can’t expect a computer to catch these for us.

Homonyms

Numbers

If you misspell a number, spell-check will correct it because it is a word. However, if you mistype a number then spell-check won’t know that it is incorrect.

Numbers

Missing Words

It is easy to get carried away when you’re typing out your thoughts. Most spell-checkers won’t catch the little word you missed in your eagerness.

Missing Words

Wrong Words

If a word is spelled correctly, most non-human grammar and spell-checkers will skim right past it. You need a real person to tell you that the wrong word was used.

Wrong Words

Verb Tense

I know this is getting a little technical, but it is important that you keep the same tense throughout any document.

Verb Tense

So I can skip spell-check?

Computer-generated spell-checkers should not be discounted. They will catch a wide variety of errors from typos to passive voice. However, they absolutely cannot replace the human eye.

Recommended Process of Review:

  • Spell Check
  • Author Review
  • Peer Review
  • Author Review (regarding the peer review comments)
  • Professional Review (Proofread/Edit)
  • Author Review (regarding the professional’s recommendations)
  • Professional Review (Proofread/Edit)
  • Author Review

You can repeat the last two as many times as you deem necessary until you are happy with the final product. You can also involve a professional at any stage in the writing and reviewing process.

Contact Unscripted at any time for a professional set of eyes to review your work.