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Word Usage

Word usage for the memoir writer

Every once in a while, I send you a few of my verbal pet peeves. Here are a few other unfortunate phrases that have come my way recently.

1. Amazon just today was offering me a “free gift.” Awfully good of them to make gifts free. It’s a rather innovative concept—don’t you think?

2. There was also a case I came across of “first introduction.” I wish people would skip the first introductions and go immediately into the second introductions. We are so busy these days! And while we’re at it…

3. How about “final conclusion?” Can’t we skip the earlier conclusions?

4. “Most well-known” is somehow different from “well-known,” but I haven’t figured it out. That goes for “most pre-emminent.”

5. I’ve already complained about “first priority” so I wanted to let that one go, but a cursory search of the internet revealed flagrant misdemeanors among eponymous speakers and writers (alas!) [Below, I have eliminated first names so as not to embarrass anyone.] If something is in second priority, is it still a priority or merely a to-do item among others? How about sixteenth priority?

  • “Here at Ledoux & Co. , we are forward thinking, strive for excellence & always keep our guests the first priority.”
  • County Commissioner XX LeDoux [in a campaign statement]: “My first priority is to help this County prosper through…”
  • Real estate agent Y Ledoux… “is successful because she never loses sight of what is important to people. Your home is her first priority.”
  • there were more examples but why drag family through the mud more than I have!

6. “Had previously done” is so necessary as one might confuse it with “had done.”

7. And, I love “historical antecedent” as so many antecedents occur in the future that one has to distinguish between the two!

Correct word usage is not irrelevant.

As writers, we use words as our tools of communication. It is, therefore, important to have a firm grasp of meaning and word usage.

And your verbal pet peeves when it comes to word usage? Share them below in the comments.

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3 Responses to Word Usage

  1. Christine Terp Madsen December 19, 2014 at 4:43 PM #

    Don’t get me started! How about some true facts–as opposed to the untrue facts?
    And for you television watchers: aren’t you tired of those “short commercial breaks”? Why can’t those announcers be honest and just call them what they are? Long advertising interruptions, interspersed by short programming breaks?

  2. Christine Larsen January 6, 2015 at 12:24 AM #

    Love them Denis, (and Christine too… nice name, by the way)
    How about ‘more excellent’ and ‘A+’,
    ‘Have a good one’ – well, I’m sure we’d love to, if we just knew what the ONE was.
    And did any of us realise there were SO many awesome things in this world?
    And even better – ‘like… it’s total awesomeness, man!’
    As I am nearing my 7th decade of life, I love to answer these perky little salespeople with their ‘See ya guys’, with a sweet but firm “Ohh… didn’t your mother teach you the difference between girls and boys, dear?”
    Christine Larsen (chuckling and chortling and creating the best upwardly mobile wrinkles!)

  3. Denis Ledoux January 6, 2015 at 4:22 PM #

    A “most excellent” post!! Thanks for sharing your love of language. The use of precise and accurate words is not elitist—it is essential to clear communication.
    “I mean, you know what I’m saying?” 🙂

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