We’re back with another installment of Grammar Wednesday! (and you thought I’d forgotten!)
This week’s offering is brought to you by California Teacher Guy, who is in the midst of picking himself up and dusting himself off, but who still found the time to email me with a grammar glitch he found in a major newspaper’s site:
From a story in the LA Times about a murder-suicide:
“Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said the city and county have hotlines available people in desperate straights, including job centers, counselors and suicide hotline workers.”
Ah, don’t you just love those homophone goblins?
This is one of a few homophones that always trip up my students. Let’s go over a couple, shall we?
The word the author of the LA Times piece was looking for is straits, which is a noun that means a position of difficulty, stress, or need. Think “Dire Straits” – both the term and the rock band – and the Straits of Gibraltar and you’ll get this one right more often.
My students also get caught writing about something that “peeked” their interest. The correct word for that application is piqued, which is a verb meaning, among other things, to excite the curiosity.
Another one that gets them a lot is “slight of hand” (it’s funny how often they mess up when they try to use idioms that aren’t part of their everyday speech). The word they want is sleight, which is a noun that means a cunning, artifice, or skill.
There are a bunch of other homophones that I see used incorrectly a lot – the big winners are to, too, and two; whether and weather; cite, sight, and site; and dew, do, and due. Really, the only way I know to get these things right consistently is practice.
Happy Wednesday, Everyone!!