Grammar Wednesday

I was completely stumped for Grammar Wednesday fodder last night – CTG, with his wonderful suggestions, had spoiled me into not having to think – so I emailed Kizz and begged for her help. Here’s one of the many suggestions she fired back (I’m saving the rest for future inspirationless GWs):

My pet peeves of late have been words that don’t mean what people think they mean. Like eminently vs. imminently. So immigrate vs. emigrate would also work there.

Okay, then! Another Commonly Confused Words Edition it is!

Eminent is an adjective that means being distinguished or high in rank, station, or repute.

Skateboarding is a topic about which he is eminently qualified to write.

Immanent is also an adjective, but this one means inherent or intrinsic.

Phillip K. Dick believed that empathy is a quality immanent to human beings; androids, he wrote, don’t have the capacity to care about others.

Imminent is an adjective that means ready to happen or impending.

We could tell, from the change in the background music, that an attack by the monster was imminent.

Immigrate is a verb which means to come to a place where one is not native, usually with the intent of permanent residence.

Once she met her future husband, Hilary started making arrangements to immigrate to his native England.

Emigrate is also a verb, but this one means to leave a place and settle in another.

Many Irish families emigrated to the U.S. during the potato famine in their home country.

The flavor of these words is slightly different – people immigrate willingly but are forced by conditions in their homelands to emigrate.

These are problems I see often, both in my travels around the internet and in my own students’ writing:

Loose is an adjective that means not bound or constrained:

When his dinghy got loose of its fastening, Chuck had to swim to his sailboat from the dock.

Lose is a verb which means to come to be without something through a variety of means, or to fail to keep, preserve, or maintain.

Beanie didn’t lose her first tooth until she was nearly eight and a half.

It’s difficult to lose a loved one, no matter what the circumstances.

Past is an adjective that means gone by in time; ago:

It’s half past six.

She was the past president of our PTA.

Passed is either an adjective which means having completed the act of passing:

He passed his entrance exam by a mere 6 points.

or a verb (which is the past tense of pass) that means to proceed or move by:

I was passed by a little old lady in a lime green Chevy convertable.

Happy Wednesday, Everyone!



Filed under Grammar

10 responses to “Grammar Wednesday

  1. jamie

    Mrs. Chili,
    I have a grammar question! Please send me an e mail and let me know if you’d rather have me post it, or e mail it back to you.

    THANKS so much.

  2. These are good, past vs. passed is awesome and I didn’t even know that immanent was a word.

  3. I’m with Kizz! Immanent??? Who knew?!

  4. Indeed, it is! Go here to see where I got the definition….

  5. I LOVE dictionary dot com!!! I have it bookmarked. (It’s always fun to learn a new word…)

  6. I have been seeing a lot of loose when people mean lose in the forum world. Makes my teeth itch.

    Here’s one maybe you can explain. I’ve seen a whole lot of people using the word whinge when I believe they mean whine. Any idea what this is all about or where it comes from?

  7. LOL! Nevermind! I just looked it up on the site you linked, and it is the Australian or British form of whine. That explains it and follows suit with whom I’ve actually seen use it.

  8. Oh, dear, Mrs. Chili! I’m sorry I left you high and dry. I have a plethora of grammar problems to send your way. Watch your e-mail! šŸ™‚

  9. Leah, I knew about whinge because I’ve got British relatives who actually use the word.

    CTG, don’t apologize – I wasn’t griping about not having a suggestion from you; I was merely noting that I’d grown a little dependent on your wonderful emails and had fallen out of the habit of thinking up good GW topics for myself. The Commonly Confused Words feature is a good one, though, that I never mind revisiting.

    That being said, I will gleefully accept GW suggestions from anyone at any time, so feel free to zip off an email to with your tricky grammar questions. Jamie, I got your email the other day and will feature your question next week.

  10. Carol

    Thanks for your Commonly Confused Words, which I found when I googled “eminent vs immanent.” I’m on a committee that’s searching for a new administrator. The current one is less than stellar in his performance but believes he is “immanently qualifed.” He lacks humility, which may prompt this self-assessment. Frankly, I’m looking for someone who’s “eminently qualified.”

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