Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Grammar Queen returns with more commonly confused word pairs




Good morning, class. When last we addressed this topic, some of you may have been napping. Don’t be dismayed. I am happy to take time for review.

As you are aware, the English language is fraught with words that sound alike but are spelled differently and have different meanings. In my previous lecture, a few of the sound-alike word pairs we discussed were:

slew / slue

stationary / stationery

mantle / mantel

all ready / already

dessert / desert

Your first assignment, therefore, is to write once sentence for each word pair, using each word correctly in context. I’ll start you off with an example:

Sally slued into a slew of slippers.

(Notice how I slipped in some alliteration.) Or you might prefer a sentence using slew as the past tense of slay. As the cliché goes, whatever floats your boat.

So let’s be creative, students! Show me your best work.

All done? Good. Today we’ll add a few more of these sound-alike word pairs to our repertoire. And, as you were duly warned, GQ has come prepared with a pop quiz. Please circle the correct word from the pairs in each of the following sentences:

  1. Audra was pleased to accept / except the award for her outstanding novel.

  2. Cara enjoyed having her family all together / altogether for a festive holiday meal.

  3. Debby’s principle / principal inspiration for writing military suspense is her family’s military background.

  4. Glynna hopes there / their won’t be any flight delays during her upcoming trip.

  5. Janet spent more time then / than her friends exploring the San Antonio Riverwalk last July.

  6. Julie wondered whose / who’s historical romance to read next.

  7. Mary and her Cowboy knelt at the alter / altar to renew their wedding vows.

  8. Missy will counsel / council beginning writers on single point of view.

  9. Myra is loath / loathe to admit how much she adores Grammar Queen.

  10. Pam refrains from writing grisly / grizzly scenes of madness and mayhem.

  11. Ruthy keeps a horde / hoard of children in her new family room.

  12. Sandra is a sight / site / cite to see when she plays pickleball!

  13. Tina created a poll / pole to select images for her next book cover.

(Answers may be found at the bottom of this post. Check your papers and share your score in the comments . . . if you dare.)

Ah, so many word pairs, so little time. The list could go on and on. For extra credit, feel free to try your hand with these:

board / bored

break / brake

fare / fair

fourth / forth

grate / great

here / hear

led / lead

passed / past

pedal / peddle

peace / piece

through / threw

Which homophones (yes, students, that is the correct term for words that sound alike but have different meanings) are your biggest bugaboos? Remember, your word processing spell-check will not help you here, so it remains up to you to make sure you always use the right word.

Dears, read my lips.
The dictionary is your friend.
USE IT!

~~~~~~~~~~~

Grammar Queen isn’t exactly a figment of Seeker Myra Johnson’s imagination, but sometimes Myra would like to keep her there. Hard to relax and enjoy something as simple as reading the morning paper with GQ looking over your shoulder and nitpicking every sentence! GQ would have you believe she’s a writer’s best friend . . . and perhaps at times she is (but don’t tell her we said so!).

So, in honor of GQ’s return to Seekerville today, Myra is giving away a copy of Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, Second Edition: How to Edit Yourself Into Print, by Renni Browne and Dave King. Winner’s choice of paperback (U.S. residents only) or Kindle version. Just add ENTER ME to your comment to be included in the drawing.



Pop quiz answers:
1. accept  2. all together  3. principal  4. there  5. than  6. whose  7. altar  8. counsel  9. loath  10. grisly  11. horde  12. sight  13. poll

For more about Myra Johnson, visit her website at www.MyraJohnson.com. You can also click here to subscribe to Myra's e-news updates.

92 comments :

  1. To lose or not to loose? That is one I can not get. The ones you had seem straight forward, but then again, I might be using them wrong, since I'm a reader, not a writer. I'm glad for your review, GQ! The ones that bug me when I reading is your/ you're and there/their.

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  2. The board was bored with the fare served at the fair and put on the brakes to any more breaks on the midway or even mid way to the midway. While many thought this decision was great, it did grate on the nerves of the carnies who moved forth with a fourth of their group yelling, “hear’, hear don’t expect us to ever come back here.” The head carnie took the lead and led his friends past the chairman who passed on a mean look in return. “You can peddle that nonsense here but I’m going to pedal my way back to the big top on my unicycle where I can get some peace and give our union rep a piece of my mind”. As the clown cycled through the doorway he threw the circus tickets intended for the chairman in the trash can.

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  3. Well there are quite a few of the sound alike words that I can sit a ponder on which to use. I do appreciate 'grammar check". I could really use a copy of the self-editing book. Thank you for the chance to win a copy.

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.

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  4. Well there are quite a few of the sound alike words that I can sit a ponder on which to use. I do appreciate 'grammar check". I could really use a copy of the self-editing book. Thank you for the chance to win a copy.

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.

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  5. Already and all ready have tripped me up more than once.

    Thanks for sharing, and please ENTER ME!

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  6. Myra, what a valuable reminder of the mistakes too many of us make. Thanks so much!

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  7. Groaning and rummaging around for my dictionary...or is it dictionery? Hmmm...

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  8. I have trouble with grammar in general. The other day I even surprised myself with an error. I was on a roll and words came quickly, but later when I re-read I caught a word that I used incorrectly... and not one of the usual ones either!!

    I went out of my way to confuse these two. I had written 'road' for 'rode'. 'She road the elevator...'
    But as I said...

    I have the self-editing book. :-)

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  9. Thank you so much. Another I notice used wrong is think and thing. Please enter me.

    I am reading a book now that is using learnt a lot. Okay if it is in the dialogue but it drives me crazy when it is in the narration as well. It could possibly be okay if set in the mountains of Tennessee, but the story is taking place in Tasmania.

    I hope everyone has a great day.

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  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  11. Grammar Queen, I'm delighted you've honored us with your presence!

    I missed number three on the quiz. Ouch! That hardly seems to deserve a rap from your ruler!

    Janet

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  12. Thanks for the quiz, Grammar Queen. Every time I take one of your quizzes, I think I've got it mastered.....only to discover I've got more to learn. Sigh.

    A couple sentence ideas that are percolating in my brain are: The strong scent of his cologne sent her out of the house.

    I love to eat a chilled dessert when I'm visiting the desert.

    They're going to Shannon's home to practice their songs there.

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  13. Good morning, students!

    Yes, your beloved grammar instructor has arrived, fashionably late as usual so that I may make a grand entrance.

    I do hope everyone is well prepared for today's lesson. I see a few of you chose to be fashionably early to class.

    Well. Let's begin.

    MARIANNE, my dear. Lose and loose are really quite simple problems to conquer once you get the hang of it. Consider the pronunciations.

    Lose (one o) is pronounced with the Z sound for the S, whereas loose has the soft S sound. You LOSE and object. You set LOOSE something that is captive.

    Better, my dear? Yes, I'm sure from now on you will never confuse the two words again.

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  14. VINCE, my dear man, you get an A+++ for excellent use of the word pairs in an amazing paragraph that could well be the makings of an entire novel!

    Because of this fine work, GQ will not take off too many points for a few punctuation errors.

    Thank you for getting our morning off to such a flying start!

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  15. CINDY W., I'm delighted you found today's lecture helpful. GQ is here to serve the needs of writers and readers everywhere.

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  16. JACKIE, it's important to identify the word pairs that are most problematic for you.

    ALREADY = before, or by now

    ALL READY = fully prepared

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  17. DiANN, my dear, so sweet of you to drop by. Always a pleasure.

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  18. Now, DORA, if one cannot even spell the word dictionary, one is already in a world of trouble!

    Bless you, dear. Keep looking. You will find it.

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  19. MARY HICKS, you are fortunate indeed that you caught your road/rode error before things got any messier. As I have said many times, computer spell-check programs cannot always be relied upon.

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  20. WILANI, thank you for pointing out one of GQ's pet peeves. Lately I have seen a misquote of the old saw that goes something like, "If that’s what you think, you’ve got another think coming." Certain individuals insist on saying, "You have another thing coming," which is incorrect.

    You also made me curious about the use of learnt. According to my dictionary, this is considered the British form of the past tense of learn. So, since Tasmania is part of the Commonwealth of Australia, perhaps learnt is much more common there.

    See? Together we can learn many new things!

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  21. JANET, principle and principal can be difficult for many to keep straight.

    principAL = chief in order of importance (adj.); also, the person with the highest authority (noun)

    principLE = a fundamental truth or basis (always a noun, never an adjective)

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  22. JEANNE, congratulations on these fine examples! A gold star for you, my dear!

    (Just don't let your ice cream melt in the heat. Things could get quite messy.)

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  23. Oh, my head, my head, my aching head!!!!

    Which to use? What to choose?

    Should I slue my slew of shoes?

    Should I pair them? Do I dare?

    What if I don't find them there?

    It's great, not grate, for my poor shoes

    For if they're lost, I cannot snooze.

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  24. Dear, dear RUTHY! One would almost surmise you have been channeling Dr. Seuss. A charming rhyme, for which GQ graciously extends a gold star.

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  25. Thank you for the information on learnt. I have heard that part of the language of those in the mountains is a hold over from the British so this makes sense. Thanks for enlightening me.

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  26. Theodore and I are best buds.

    We meet daily.

    We may not have slews of shoes, but we have yellow, reds and blues.

    And we might not go quietly into that good night
    But we might catch sight of a silly fright!

    So, GQ, where does "bated" "baited" breath fit in, and from what does it come hence?

    Is it short for "abated"....

    Or is it just stupid????

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  27. Theodore and I are best buds.

    We meet daily.

    We may not have slews of shoes, but we have yellow, reds and blues.

    And we might not go quietly into that good night
    But we might catch sight of a silly fright!

    So, GQ, where does "bated" "baited" breath fit in, and from what does it come hence?

    Is it short for "abated"....

    Or is it just stupid????

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  28. Theodore and I are best buds.

    We meet daily.

    We may not have slews of shoes, but we have yellow, reds and blues.

    And we might not go quietly into that good night
    But we might catch sight of a silly fright!

    So, GQ, where does "bated" "baited" breath fit in, and from what does it come hence?

    Is it short for "abated"....

    Or is it just stupid????

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  29. Ah, RUTHY, good question. Here is what I found:

    BATED: adjective (in phrase with bated breath); in great suspense; very anxiously or excitedly: He waited for a reply to his offer with bated breath.

    ORIGIN late 16th cent.: from the past participle of obsolete bate ‘restrain,’ from abate.

    So . . . not stupid, really. Just an old, old saying.

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  30. And GQ is also quite curious why Blogger chose to insert your previous comment three times! One can only assume there is a gremlin in the works.

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  31. Grammar Queen, I didn't learn the difference between mantle and mantel until my crit partner told me last Thursday. In fact, I didn't even know there was a difference!

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  32. CARA, yes, another difficult word pair to keep straight. If we can simply remember that mantEL is the shelf over the fireplace, then one hope we can remember that mantLE is the spelling for every other usage!

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  33. I missed loathe/loath!! Goodness, I though for sure I had that one right.

    And I still struggle with stationary/stationery. And have to really think about principal/principle.

    Fun post, GQ!

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  34. Yes, MISSY, tricky word pairs all! I have had to catch Myra a few times with the loath/loathe issue.

    loathe (with the e) = the verb

    loath (no e) = the adjective


    stationery (spelled with e) = a noun meaning writing paper [papER, stationERy--does this help?]

    stationary (spelled with a) = an adjective meaning not moving

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  35. Dear Grammar Queen - Please include direction of using effect/affect correctly. I must have been sleeping during that one because I can never get it right. I could really use that book.

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  36. Love the test! Sharpened my brain for today's writing. I agree, the dictionary is my friend. I always have to look up mantel and mantle! That one just never sticks in my little mind...

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  37. Dear CINDY, I agree, affect and effect can be quite problematic. You are so brave to confess your difficulties in this area. Let me attempt to be of assistance.

    affect = ALWAYS a verb, meaning to have an EFFECT on or make a difference

    effect = SOMETIMES a verb and SOMETIMES a noun. As a VERB, it means to cause something to happen. As a NOUN, it is the resulting change or consequence of an action.

    Sentence examples:

    A cold front will AFFECT today's temperatures.

    The EFFECT of a cold front is a drop in temperature.

    Cold fronts EFFECT temperature drops.

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  38. LYNDEE, may I suggest an easy method of remembering mantle/mantel?

    mantEL = the shELf over the fireplace

    Occasionally we need little gimmicks to remind us. Whatever works, my dear. Whatever works.

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  39. Whose and who's always bothers me.
    Also some of these ... I don't know, Grammar Queen, you're making them up right?

    Are there really two words for stationary/stationery? I suppose one means stay in place and the other means writing paper, but WHICH???????????

    I'm sad.

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  40. I'm terrible at lie, lay, laid, lain, lying, laying.


    But I think you've done that post too and yet, I remain befuddled.

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  41. Lyndee it sharpened my brain too and now my brain is stabbing me in the head.

    :(

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  42. I've also got the problem of knowing which is correct but choosing the wrong one anyway.

    None are worse than their and there.

    Hear and here are also bad.

    I completely know which I MEAN TO TYPE but my fingers take over and I am subject to a will stronger than my own.

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  43. Oh, my poor, sweet, word-pair-challenged MARY!!! Whatever shall we do with you??? GQ had tried numerous times to clear up the lie/lay/laid/lain matter. What more can I do?

    And yes, dear, as explained above, there is a difference between stationary and stationery.

    And no, dear, GQ is NOT making any of this up. We have better things to do with our time than invent new grammar conundrums. The world is in dire enough straits as it is.

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  44. Personally, I think Ruthy hoards a horde of children in her home (because they are all so stinkin' adorable!)

    The words that slay me are when to use lie and when to use lay. I know Grammar Queen has addressed this in past posts. I'm merely mentioning it again as it still stymies me.

    As always, I love to learn and the Grammar Queen certainly educates me.

    (name in draw for book? please?)

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  45. oh, and I am quite pleased that I scored 100 percent on the pop quiz of the Seeker sentences. Some days my brain actually works properly. *snoopy dancing*

    Of course, I remain befuddled with the lie/lay thing, so I cannot celebrate too much. *sigh*

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  46. Yes, DEB H, I have suspected the same thing about Ruthy hoarding hordes of children.

    I see you and MARY share the lie/lay problem. [Huge sigh.] For both your sakes, GQ will explain once again.


    Deb lies down (no direct object).

    Mary lays the book down (direct object).

    Deb lay down (past tense).

    Mary laid the book down (past tense).

    Deb has lain down for half an hour now (and don't you wish we all had time for an afternoon nap?).

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  47. DEB H, let me also hand your your gold star for acing the pop quiz! Congratulations!

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  48. Two mistakes. (Yes. I am loathe to admit the grizzly errors.)

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  49. WALT??? You met a bear on the way to taking the quiz??? I do hope you made it safely out of harm's way, because Seekerville would be loath to lose you!

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  50. Please ENTER ME in the giveaway! :-) I need this book. I probably should take a grammar class too. Like Cindy, I have problems with affect/effect! And led/lead. For desert/dessert, a neat trick is to remember Sweet Sugar - two s's for dessert.

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  51. Ouch! I missed fore! ;) Back to class for me!

    Wearing a turquoise mantle, she slue a slew of stationery, covered in his lover's handwriting, towards the man standing stationary against the mantel. She was all ready to serve him the poisoned chocolate dessert she had already prepared while he was traveling through the desert. (Can you tell I'm working on a mystery?)

    I'm having trouble with payed and paid. Help!

    Please ENTER ME! Thanks, Grammar Queen!

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  52. EISEN, what a perfectly delightful way to remember dessert has to S's! Charming!!!

    Very well, we shall briefly review lead/led.

    Lead (pronounced same as led) is the metal.

    Led is the past tense of lead (pronounced LEED), which means to guide, direct, or be in front.

    Lead bullets flew as the general led the charge.

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  53. Oh, SHERIDA, you missed fore--ahem! I mean, FOUR??? Definitely time for a review!

    And what a clever paragraph to display your word pair skills! I would make one small correction, however. I believe you needed the past tense of slue, which would be slued, or as some dictionaries prefer, slewed.

    Payed and paid are another matter entirely. Paid is the correct past tense of pay, meaning to remit payment.

    Payed, according to my dictionary, is the past tense of a different kind of pay, meaning to apply pitch the wooden deck of hull seams of a ship.

    So I believe, in most instances, you would be safe to scrub payed from your vocabulary, unless you write much about sailors and wooden ships.

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  54. Great, THANK YOU, Grammar Queen, for ending my problem...no nautical work in my life!

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  55. oops. must follow the directions... ENTER ME, please.
    *slinking off with my gold star for the quiz before GQ takes it away*

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  56. p.s.
    many thanks for the heavy sigh delivery about lie/lay. apologies for trying your patience.

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  57. Dear me, I have no idea why people assume I'm such an ogre!

    Have no fear, DEB H, your gold star is yours to keep.

    SHERIDA, I'm glad to have relieved you of the burden ship repair.

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  58. Madame GQ, what a joyful surprise to find you at the blackboard in Seekerville today. I learn so much from your classes.

    Thank you for clarifying already and all ready.

    Effect and affect also slow me down. If I consider effect to cause something when used as a verb, would I be correct? Affect as a verb is more like having a bearing on something? Yes?

    My trick to remember "princiPAL" comes from my school teacher daughter. The princiPAL is the student's friend.

    Love the double "S" for super sweet in Dessert. I always think of being alone in the desert--thus only one S. And yes, I have to think of that desert scene each time I write either word.

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  59. Ms. GQ, you mentioned the following:

    "If that’s what you think, you’ve got another think coming."

    I always thought it was THING! Thank you for setting me straight!

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  60. DEBBY, my dear, I'm delighted I could clear up a few things for you today!

    Yes, you are correct. Effect as a verb means to cause something to happen; e.g., to effect change.

    Oh, and a single S as in "alone in the desert"--what a creative mine you have! Brilliant!

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  61. My, my. I just had to correct Myra's poor husband, who misused compliment when he really meant complement. Anyone care to venture a guess as to the differences in meaning?

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  62. Ruthy and Vince are brownnosing the teacher. Pass the word--we'll get them at recess!

    Janet

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  63. GQ!!

    Compliment refers to praise.

    Complement refers to go well with or match.

    Janet

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  64. Yes, yes, yes!!! Excellent, JANET! You have earned your gold star for the day!

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  65. I love posts about grammar and word usage. :) I missed number 9 on the quiz, and I had to think a moment on several others. No need to enter me in the drawing; I already have the book. Thanks for this fun post!

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  66. It's been ages since I've gotten a gold star! Thanks Grammar Queen.

    Janet

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  67. Yes, JENNIFER, #9 is tricky. So nice to know GQ isn't the only one fascinated by the study of grammar and word usage! Bless you, my dear!

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  68. GQ I totally understand your explanation I JUST CAN'T REMEMBER WHICH IS WHICH!

    My respect for you grows by the hour. We are lucky to have you walk amongst us.

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  69. I mean I can't remember which is which one second after I leave you and your explanation.

    It's like my brain is full and I have to now forget something before I can add anything else.

    Did you all realize I have the greek alphabet memorized? Waste of space there.....but I can't forget it!

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  70. GQ, thanks for those tips to remember which to choose!

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  71. Perhaps we need someone to put these hints to music to help us remember. When I was in 7th grade I learned the prepositions by singing them to the tune of Yankee Doodle. That was over 45 years ago and I still remember it.

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  72. Dear Grammar Queen, Thanks for the lesson.

    I'm sure everyone's heard this, but the best way to remember the right spelling of desserts (as in ice cream, cheesecake, cake, pie, etc.) is that stressed spelled backwards is desserts.

    Please enter me in the drawing. Have a great day.

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  73. Dear Grammar Queen, I forgot to ask if that was a picture of Doris Day from Teacher's Pet with her and Clark Gable. I love that movie.

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  74. MARY, my dear, dear girl. Methinks it is time for some selective forgetting. Try, dear, just . . . try.

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  75. WILANI, I am putting you in charge of setting these grammar rules to music. You will receive 20 extra-credit points upon completion.

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  76. TANYA, you make a good point. Desserts do help considerably in times of stress, provided one does not overindulge.

    But Doris Day? Really??? I'm flattered you noticed the resemblance. Several admirers have, I must say. I don't believe Doris was seen wearing a crown in that movie, however.

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  77. Your Majesty,

    You have eased one of my writing life's burdens with your wonderful tip regarding mantEL and shELf. A multitude of thanks from a humble admirer.

    Nancy C

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  78. P.S. Even with my previous mantle/mantel handicap, I achieved 100% accuracy on the test. I am a constant source of amazement to myself.

    Applause for offering the self editing book. I treasure my copy.

    Nancy C

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  79. On the quiz I missed loath and horde. I guess those are words I don't use as much. Please enter me into the drawing.

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  80. As an English teacher, I have an easy way to remember stationery-stationary. I always tell students that you write with a pEn on stationEry. (The e in both those words.) For dessert, I teach them that dessert is so good you want more (hence the extra s.)

    And Mary, I can recite the Greek alphabet, but only really fast. When I joined a sorority in college, we had to say the Greek alphabet while holding a lit match. My match went into the scrapbook as the record!

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  81. As an English teacher, I have an easy way to remember stationery-stationary. I always tell students that you write with a pEn on stationEry. (The e in both those words.) For dessert, I teach them that dessert is so good you want more (hence the extra s.)

    And Mary, I can recite the Greek alphabet, but only really fast. When I joined a sorority in college, we had to say the Greek alphabet while holding a lit match. My match went into the scrapbook as the record!

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  82. Sorry, I'm late GQ. I will stay after and write comma rules for penance.

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  83. Like, Tina, my humble apologies for being late as well, only I'd rather diagram than write comma rules, please.

    GRATE post, Myra, although I didn't fair to well ... ;)

    HUGS,
    Julie

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  84. I got 100%. I must admit I paused to think about a few before making my choice. Has anyone notice how spell check will autocorrect grammar that is correct. That is a big boggabo with me. Another homophone(remember when they were homonyms.)is patient and patience.
    Book sounds interesting.
    Cindy Huff

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  85. NANCY, I'm so glad my humble suggestion proves helpful! We do what we can.

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  86. SANDY, thank you for sharing your advice about remembering stationary/stationery! Very helpful!

    Yes, we all occasionally come across those words that continually prove problematic. But once we identify them, the battle is half won!

    Onward!!!

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  87. TINA, darling, I shall expect your paper on my desk at the end of the day.

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  88. Now, JULIE, do you really want to stay after class? If so, I have several erasers in need of cleaning. And you can assist me in entering scores into my grade book.

    However, be forewarned that none of these extra-credit chores will expunge any examples of poor grammar from GQ's long memory.

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  89. CINDY, congratulations on your perfect score! Yes, I strongly suggest turning off the grammar check function on your computers. It is not entirely fiction-writer friendly.

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  90. I have thought about subscribing to Grammarly to help with these tricky errors. I hate to read back over a posted comment and think, I know the difference, why did I write that?

    Enter Me!

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  91. REBECCA, you are not alone in your fears. It has happened to all of us. Alas, even to moi.

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  92. Words like these can been confusing. Please enter me in the contest for the book.

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