Daily Archives: October 22, 2008

Grammar Wednesday

Another “Commonly Confused Words” edition!

My students are really cute.  They try so hard, but the often fall just short of the mark, Goddess love them.  Here are some words that my students still aren’t quite sure about, and this post will form the backbone of a lesson I’ll give next week as my classes work on the drafts of their second major paper.

Everyday / every day:

Everyday – all one word –  is an adjective that means “ordinary” or “regular.” 

These are my everyday clothes; I dress up when I’m going out. 

All of the everyday dishes were in the sink, so she had to use the china for dessert.

Every day - two words – is used to indicate something that happens regularly.

She has classes every day.

I know we’ve gone over this in a previous Grammar Wednesday (maybe more than one, now that I think of it), but my students still choke on the difference bewteen loose and lose.

Loose (rhymes with “moose”) is an adjective that describes something as being not tight;

The knot was too loose to hold my bathrobe closed and, as a result, I flashed the UPS guy this morning. (Not really, but it’s a good sentence.)

Lose (rhymes with “dues”) is a verb that means to misplace something or to fail to win.

There’s no way we can lose next week’s game; the other team is a disaster on defense.

If I lose my keys again, I’m going to be in deep trouble with the building manager.

I was a little surprised that a mix-up between alter and altar came up in a student’s writing last week.

Alter is a verb which means to change or influence

I wouldn’t alter your approach to the problem; I think you’re right on track.

She altered her commute this week to avoid the nightmarish construction downtown.

An altar is a sacred platform, the sort of which one usually finds in a church.

As she approached the altar, the bride’s nerves got the best of her and she fainted.

There are a bunch more, but this is enough for today. I’m still trying to figure out how to get my students from starting the largest percentage of their sentences with “by,” “with,” or “in,” (“By citing a lot of credible sources, it shows that the author was careful in his research”) but I’m confident that I’ll at least get them to cut back, even if it means running a style and readability workshop about it.

I’ll leave you today with a question that Suzanne asked me in an email last week (and I’m writing this from L.U., which means two things; one, I don’t have the email with me – I’m working on memory here – and two, I can’t figure out how to link to her blog. Sorry, Sooza). She wanted to know which of these two structures was correct:

More than 20,000 tons of cargo passes through the port every year.
More than 20,000 tons of cargo pass through the port every year.

How would YOU have answered this question? I’ll edit this post in a few days to tell you how I responded to Suzanne’s question.

Happy Wednesday, Everyone!

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Filed under concerns, General Griping, Grammar, Teaching