Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Using the right/write word at the right/write time

Good morning, students! It’s so nice to see you all in your places with bright, shining faces. I’ve decorated my classroom with beautiful spring flowers just for you! Of course, the posies aren’t nearly as pretty in black and white, so do use your imaginations. You are, writers, of course!

All right, shall we--

Excuse me, you there in the back row. Disrespect for grammar will not be tolerated. Careful, dearie, or I’ll send you out in the hallway to write 1,000 times:

Grammar Queen is always right.
Grammar Queen is always right.
Grammar Queen is always right.

Now . . . where was I?

Ah, yes. Today, class, we will review several commonly confused word pairs. Do you have your pencils ready? Let’s begin with a quiz.

Please read the following sentences and circle the correct word in each pair.

  1. Ruthy should heed my advice/advise and serve more chocolate in Seekerville.
  2. Mary lives on a ranch with a slew/slue of cattle.
  3. Julie penned her thank-you note on rose-scented stationary/stationery.
  4. Janet has reserved a special spot on her mantle/mantel for her first RITA statue.
  5. Myra wrote less/fewer words during Speedbo than she had hoped.
  6. Pam keeps track of important writing details on her ingenuous/ingenious spreadsheets.
  7. Missy appraised/apprised her editor of several additional book title suggestions.
  8. Audra is all ready/already planning her trip to the next ACFW conference.
  9. Cara’s latest work-in-progress includes an odious/odorous villain.
  10. Tina is wracking/racking her brain for a way to work Vince into her next novel.
  11. Glynna doesn’t mind the occasional seasonal/seasonable blizzard because the forced solitude gives her more writing time.
  12. Sandra finds RVing with her husband very restive/restful.
  13. Debby’s next romantic suspense is sure to impact/affect readers in dramatic ways.
  14. Grammar Queen may be counted upon to provide exceptionable/exceptional lessons in grammar and usage.

Bonus question:
  • A student’s just desserts/deserts for failing this test will include expulsion from the dessert/desert buffet at once.

Is everyone finished? You may now exchange papers for grading.

Oops. I suppose exchanging papers might be rather difficult in our cyber-classroom. I have no choice but to trust your complete honesty as you check your own work. For each correct answer in the first 14 questions, give yourself 8 points. If you answer the bonus question correctly, you may add 25 points to your final score.

1. Advice is correct in the first sentence because it is a noun. We advise Ruthy, or we offer her advice. And we know Ruthy is always open to good advice.

2. Slew, meaning a great many, is correct. To slue is to swing around, which is certainly a possibility when negotiating fresh cow patties. Careful, Mary!

3. Stationery, the correct answer here, is what you write on. Stationary describes a state of immobility. One must assume Julie is stationary while writing on her stationery, although I have never known her to sit still for long.

4. The correct answer here is mantel, which is the stone or wood structure over a fireplace. Mantle is a loose garment like a cloak. Knowing Janet’s exquisite fashion sense, I’m sure her mantle will coordinate nicely with her evening gown at the awards gala.

5. Fewer is used when referring to countable things, such as Myra’s words (poor dear). Use less when discussing mass nouns or amounts.

6. No doubt Pam is truly of ingenuous (honorable, candid) character, but her spreadsheet system certainly qualifies as ingenious (clever and original), which is the correct choice.

7. Appraise is to put a value on something. Although incorrect in this sentence, I’m certain it was the case after Missy apprised (the correct response, meaning informed) her editor of so many outstanding optional book titles.

8. My, my, isn’t our Audra on the ball, already (correct answer) planning for the conference! By September, no doubt she will at last be all ready.

9. Do you smell a rat? Oh, no! It’s Cara’s odious (correct answer, meaning hateful) villian! However, I truly doubt he’ll be detectable by smell (odorous). In any case, I suggest Cara’s heroine not get too close!

10. Who in Seekerville has not had his or her brain racked (stretched beyond capacity, so racking is the correct word choice here) by Vince’s wit and wisdom? Wracking (completely destroying) her brain cells would definitely not be in Tina’s best interests.

11. This sentence is a bit tricky, and frankly, we might make a case for either word, so give yourself an automatic 8 points either way. Seasonal relates to one of the four seasons, so a winter blizzard would not be entirely unexpected. However, seasonable means “in a timely fashion,” so if Glynna needed a day or two to hibernate in her cozy little house and write, a seasonable blizzard might be quite welcome.

12. I certainly hope Sandra’s RV trips with hubby are restful, the correct word here. On the other hand, they might both become restive (impatient, agitated) if trapped for long in Glynna’s blizzard.

13. Alas, how many times has the word impact been used when the speaker or writer actually meant affect? Here’s another word for you: solecism. It means a speech blunder or something that deviates from what is proper. Impact is technically a noun, not a verb, which makes it the incorrect choice in this sentence. But I agree that Debby’s stories do have a strong impact upon her readers.

14. Exceptional: uncommon, superior, outstanding, extraordinary. Need I say more? Unless, of course, you find Grammar Queen’s lectures exceptionable (offensive or objectionable)--and if you do, I would kindly ask you to keep your opinions to yourself.

And now for the answer to the bonus question. How many of you circled the double-s form of the word in both cases?

Really? That many? Oh, you think you’re so clever, don’t you?

My dears, the phrase is and has been for untold centuries just deserts. Think of desert as a form of the word deserve. To receive your just deserts is to get exactly what you deserve.

Which, if you missed this question, is NOT dessert!

So, class, have you learned anything new today? Did any of the correct answers take you by surprise? Don’t be embarrassed if you didn’t perform as well as you’d hoped. The true test of a dedicated grammar student is whether or not you move past this unfortunate moment, learn from your mistakes, and sin no more.


Myra here. Grammar Queen asked me to inform you that no Seekers were harmed in the creation of her quiz. . . .

Well, that’s a matter of opinion!

At any rate, she has authorized me to offer a copy of The Synonym Finder to one fortunate commenter on today’s post. A thesaurus in dictionary form, this book remains one of my favorite references for when I need to find exactly the right word. It bears the official Grammar Queen Seal of Approval . . . or would if the publisher hadn't already filled up the cover with all sorts of other stuff.


  1. Oh, Grammar Queen, you taught me, yet again. I'm usually good in knowing which words to use, but I did miss three of the questions on your pop quiz. Thank you for the grammar lesson I so obviously needed.

    Good night! I'll see you tomorrow.

  2. Arghh! I got one wrong!

    I think I'll blame a long forgotten boyfriend's mother for mantling me with an incorrect impression of a mantel. She had one, but no fireplace. I've suffered under a false perception of mantels ever since...

    But I got the bonus question right! And yes, that deserves an exclamation mark because I know a scrumptious chocolate dessert is my just desert.

    Grammar Queen, thank you for the review of the right/write words. The quiz was a lot of fun.

    It's chilly tonight in the north country, so I brought a pot of hot chocolate to share. Enjoy!

  3. I scored 100%, and I swear I didn't cheat!!!

    And I have the coffee pot ready for morning.


  4. Got everything but wrack/rack Hmmm. But I did get the bonus thanks to Ruthy's FB question a few weeks ago.

    May I add in my personal pet peeve which is all too commonly misused?

    loose versus lose

    I do so want to scream when I read about someone loosing their mind. *g*

  5. Missed 3 questions. :/ But I got the bonus question right! This quiz was so fun! I'm not always good at grammar, but I do love to learn. Thanks, Grammar Queen!

  6. Argh, I wrote down the wrong mantle on my quiz sheet though I knew the answer, but since I already solidified it in graphite I'll take my deduction. (I love grammar - ask Andrea)

    I did have to look up further/farther today to make sure because in the million and one crits I had on the WIP I just entered into another contest, I had the wrong one. I just caught it in a last read through and had to double check since I've had, oh, more than 10 people read it - Including Andrea! and I had to make sure that after all that, I hadn't put the right one there! But no, it's been wrong the entire time. :)

  7. Now I will be nervous about ever commenting again. I know I have used the wrong wracking/ racking right here on this blog.

    My husband goes crazy when even news reporters use less when they should use fewer. Actually, he is almost getting used to it and just rolls his eyes.

    I got the desserts/deserts thing right but I was not sure about it. I would not want to be banned from the dessert buffet.

  8. What a fun quiz! Thanks for the lesson.
    (I'm afraid to say much more.)
    Jackie Layton

  9. I first realized the Grammar Queen was a sick puppy when we had our first discussion over "just desserts"....


    Just deserts (which is the OLD correct way, btw)

    But because people here in the Northeast started using the play on words as a bakery store name "Just Desserts!" it became embroiled in our common usage in the 80's...

    That either makes us delightfully innovative or somewhat stupid, but up here you will often see it used in even the big newspapers as "just desserts" which made perfect sense to this chocolate lover.

    If you deserve something wonderful, you get a BETTER dessert, right?

    Regional acceptance is huge in writing. Up here, no one randomly calls soda "Coke"... because it's either Orange Crush or Dr. Pepper or Squirt or Pepsi...

    But down south it's permissible to say "I've got a cooler of cokes" and mean random soda.

    And I've had to explain some terms I use to copy editors because they're from NYC and some of the upstate terms don't translate the same downstate.

    I love language. And it's amazing how quickly we can butcher it now, with fast-speed Internet, LOL!

    But I'm sticking with my just desserts up here, which today might just be a trip for Abbott's Frozen Custard!!!

  10. I missed seasonable. Can I blame my ignorance on taking this test before my morning coffee? I did get the bonus question.

    Such a timely lesson, Grammar Queen. The news last night featured a report on our UNC School of Journalism and their new test for graduating seniors. It is very similar to your quiz. The students were freaking out.

    "We don't know how to spell. We use autocorrect." Yes, a direct quote from one of the few students who agreed to be interviewed on the matter.

    Peace, Julie

  11. Ooooh, nice. I think I would have messed up WRACKING before this but I will link it to a torture device in the future and be all set. Thanks Grammar Queen!

    The synonym finder is my favorite thesaurus. I had to put a new cover on it to protect it. I used a sheet of tie-dyed Duct tape. Groovy.

    By the way I often mess up Capital and Capitol -which is the building?

  12. I missed one but aced the bonus question, so is that 100%! HA!

    Thank you, Grammar Queen for testing our word usage knowledge....now if you can just teach our spelling and grammar checks to do the same thing!

  13. LOVE LOVE it!

    Yippee for Grammar Queens!!

    I wanted dessert both times. Yes. I thought I was clever. Sigh.


    One of my elementary teachers helped me with capital/capitol.
    Capitol and dome both have an "o" and a capitol often has a dome.
    Isn't that wonderful? (Wish I remembered the brave teacher's name who taught us that gem!)

    Would love a copy of the book. GQ approved! may at maythek9spy dot com

    Thanks GQ's!

    And Myra - no harm for sure... :)

  14. MARY CLINE--isn't it funny how we all have our pet peeves? Mine for years has been when someone uses "There's" where "There're or There are" belongs. :) Sigh.

    Hope your day is good. BTW, I missed "racking/wracking" too. :)

  15. Ohh, I ove my synonym finder! It's right here by my side, open to the g's right now for some reason.

    Here's a word that means the EXACT opposite of what I always thought it meant.


  16. LOL!!! This was SOOO fun, Myra ... er, Grammar Queen. Took me back SO many years to when I was in school that I felt young again ... and stupid!! :|

    Had NO idea impact was technically a noun, but somebody needs to tell my Mac-application dictionary that ... :|

    LOVED the sentence examples and actually I DO sit for extended periods of time, but ONLY with a laptop or book in my lap. Otherwise, I'm pretty much flitting. :)


  17. Love my Synonym Finder (purchased after Julie Lessman's passionate praise of it).
    I have my 14 year old hooked on it too :-)
    Thanks Grammar Queen.

  18. I only missed impact/affect - AND the bonus question. Fairly impressed with myself. and would LOVE that book!

    Thanks SO much!

  19. Good morning, class! So delighted to see your smiling faces all present and accounted for.

    Well . . . a few of you, anyway.

    And some excellent scores! You make me proud!

    Excuse me . . . a bit teary-eyed . . .

    I'll be back shortly to chat again. Unfortunately, an unexpected errand demands my immediate attention this morning. Do chat amongst yourselves until my return.

    Of course, I'm sure I can trust your integrity -- no copying from one another's papers!

    Tata for now!

  20. Morning Grammar Queen.

    Well unfortunately I missed three, but I did get the bonus question. smile

    Thanks for the great tips.

  21. Morning Grammar Queen! Your visits to Seekerville are a highlight! Even if you make me look dumb, I have a smile on my face. I missed three questions and didn't get the bonus. This was after we talked about "just deserts" a while back. Sigh.

    I have no reserved spot on my mantel for a Rita, but trust me, I could make room in a blink of an eye! :-)


  22. The misused words that drive me nuts are eager and anxious.


  23. Let's just say I NEED to be in the drawing for the book. : /

    Thanks for the lesson GQ!

  24. hi I missed the whole day yesterday, I'm sorry.

    I'm glad to be back.

    I found a comment from Melissa Jaeger caught in the spam folder. And it said NOTHING to be labeled spam. It was a bum rap.

    I freed it and it should be on Janet's blog post now, but if no one goes back how will they know?

    Melissa asked if it helped my numbers for people to download the free copy of Out of Control from Amazon or Barnes and Noble...it's still free today, the last day. And I would LOVE it if you'd do that.

    Yes, grab it.

    And now I'll go hide before Grammar Queen gets to me with her ruler.

  25. By the way, Grammar Queen, the dictionary says both nerve-wracking and nerve-racking are acceptable. I'll admit racking is listed first, but wish to protest my grade on that question.


  26. I got a 100.

    Yeah, come and check my paper if you don't believe me, G-Queen.

    (taunting Grammar Queen! I'm a little dizzy with fear!)

    Further and farther.

    Passed and past.

    I just spent time a few days ago staring at passed and past trying to decide which was right to write.

    I have to stop and think every time I type advice/advise. I think i get it right but I need to think it through threw.

    racked/wracked with guilt because I'm a whimp/wimp (I think the whimpe/wimp is just a typo.)
    When a word is tripping me up

  27. moustache and mustache are also both right. I ended up shaving some guy just to get that off my back.

  28. affect/effect

    You know the English language can be perverse.

  29. conscience/conscious

    I need to go now. I'm annoying myself.

  30. Mary Cline - I'm with your husband. I once cancelled a newspaper subscription because of the horrible editing.

    My pet peeve is when someone uses "for all intensive purposes" rather than "for all intents and purposes".

    Off my soapbox now.

    I'll leave you with my quote of the day: "Spell check is not your friend."

    (Grammar Queen, did I use my periods and quotation marks correctly in my comment? That always throws me...)

  31. I loved this! Thank you. However, I have given up the battle on less and fewer. No one uses few/few correctly--except, of course, you and I.

  32. Not bad - one wrong and the bonus. Those why just deserts has anything to do with a desert, I have no idea! LOL.

    Count me in the draw. That book sounds great. I constantly use the Thesaurus in Word.

    Have a good one!

    sbmason at sympatico dot ca

    PS. Mary, downloaded your book.

  33. Oops - Meant to say "Though why just deserts...

  34. I am so glad someone, namely Mary, is not scared of Grammar Queen. I can't believe we don't have 100 posts already.

    Friends have a running joke with my husband over imply and infer. He is the only engineer I know who loves grammar. Hmm, maybe that is another reason I love him.

    Peace, Julie

  35. It's especially fun when you're working with an ESL friend. Due/dew/do, gnu/knew/new, rain/reign/rein, is there a game like this? There ought to be!

  36. Argh, pain and torture. The reward is however well worth it. I love my Synonym Finder.

  37. For all intensive porpoises.... I have to say I aces that test and yes I did cheat. Oh wait....

    Couldn't resist.

    My problem is I know them until I have to type them and my brain splits up sides and confuses me. It is so mind racking, the way it wrecks my brain.

  38. Phew!!!!...So glad that Madame Grammar Queen isn't teaching us about punctuation this time 'round!!!!!!!!! It's so difficult to curb them, you know????? I mean really; God created punctuation marks for a reason, right?!

    Teehee. I only missed two and the bonus question...well...pfffff I still want my just desserts!!!!!

  39. I had my just deserts for breakfast... Lemon tart cake. Yum. It's what breakfasts for champions are made of.

  40. Errand complete, and Grammar Queen has returned!

    Aren't you all simply thrilled?

    Now, now, don't everyone cheer at once.

    . . .

    Ahem . . .

  41. My, my, Grammar Queen is always amazed at how many night owls we have in Seekerville!

    JEANNE, I do hope yo had a good night's sleep and that concern over those pop quiz errors didn't give you nightmares.

    JAN, another night owl, I see. But a smart one! Since you were correct in answering the desserts/deserts bonus question, Grammar Queen will forgive the mantle/mantel lapse.

  42. HELEN, my dear woman! I wish I could pin a huge gold star on your lapel! Or perhaps crown you with an honorary tiara! At any rate, consider yourself Grammar Queen's official "teacher's pet."

    MARY C, I have to agree that wrack/rack can be quite confusing. Myra recently confided that this very issue has sent her to the dictionary more than once. I, too, regret the frequent confusion of lose/loose. Although, if one occasionally looses one's mind, one never knows what wisdom might filter in.

  43. NATALIE, it is my delight to assist you in continuing your grammar education.

    MELISSA, thank you for your honesty. But do forgive yourself. Anyone may err from time to time (and remember, one and all, ERR rhymes with FUR, not AIR). Yes, the further/farther dilemma trips up many a writer. Think of "farther" as referring to a measurable distance.

  44. MARY CLINE, I saved an extra Godiva chocolate just for you! Congratulations on the correct answer to desserts/deserts! Oh, and give your erudite hubby my compliments.

    JACKIE, dear, have you been spending too much time with Ruthy? I assure you, I am not one to be feared. I'm really quite a nice person. Honestly. Take my word for it.

  45. Now, now, RUTHY, don't get your feathers in a tangle. And, my dear, OLD does not necessarily make something passé. Eat all the dessert you want and consider it your just deserts for enduring the occasional (yet, I'm sure, quite deserved) chiding from GQ.

  46. JULIE H S, it truly is a shame when proper English goes the way of "autocorrect." Do these poor, misguided souls not realize that computers are not infallible? And please, my dear, do not beat yourself up over the seasonal/seasonable confusion. Did I mention that was a trick question?

    DEBRA, I'm delighted to know your Synonym Finder is seeing much use. And thank you for asking about capital/capitol. Just remember, CAPITOL with an O refers to the actual building. By the way, where does one find tie-dyed duct tape?

  47. ROSE, congratulations on a near-perfect score! Help yourself to an extra chocolate.

    KC, what a clever girl, linking the O in "capitol" with the O in "dome." DEBRA, do take note of this sage advice.

    PAM, are you saying you thought "spendthrift" referred to a thrifty person? Congratulations on your enlightenment, my dear!

  48. Ah, yes, JULIE the flitter. As for "impact," here is a quote from my Mac dictionary:

    Impact has traditionally been only a noun. In recent years, however, it has undergone a semantic shift that has allowed it to act as a verb. Such use has become widespread (and also widely condemned by stylists).

    And, of course, GQ does consider herself a stylist. At least where grammar is concerned.

  49. PEPPER, so glad you are also getting good use from your Synonym Finder. Myra has told me she finds it much more user-friendly than the Roget's Thesaurus she received as a high school graduation gift. (She kindly requests you please not ask her how long ago that was.)

    JOANNE, GQ can almost forgive you for missing impact/affect, considering how language has (unfortunately) devolved in recent years. And no dessert for you, my dear. So sorry!

  50. SANDRA, I'm relieved you at least answered the bonus question correctly. My work here has not been in vain.

    JANET, you know I am always here when you need me. And I doubt you will ever miss the deserts/desserts question again as I have now mercilessly hammered it into your brain.

    Now, please don't run screaming into the night, but GQ must point out a small faux pas in your comment. "A while" should have been typed "awhile" since it is used as an adverb here. Use "a while" as the object of a preposition such as "for" or "in."

  51. Ooh, I got two wrong and the bonus. To be fair, I don't think I've ever actually seen "just deserts" written out, and I just assumed that if someone got their "just desserts," they'd be getting the portion of dessert they justly deserved for whatever they did!

    OK, that logic worked when I was 10...

    Things that drive me bonkers (and we get A LOT of them in submitted materials here at the newspaper):
    rein/reign (had this one just today)
    principle/principal (I always remember this one because my elementary school principal had a sign in his office noting that "the principal is your PAL")

  52. Oh, and more on the eager/anxious debacle. I just conferred with another grammarian whose wisdom I have come to respect. Grammar Girl has this to say: Anxious or Eager.

  53. DONNA, I praise your humble honestly. I have put you in the drawing, my dear.

    MARY. Tsk, tsk, self-promoting again? Well, one can hardly blame you, popular author that you are. GQ has only the highest respect for you and wishes you much success. (Just remember, you can always count on my assistance with the lie/lay issue.)

  54. Yes, JANET, I concede that you will find "nerve-wracking" listed as a secondary spelling choice. The best reason I can puzzle out for this is that since "rack" can mean to stretch out, and "wrack" means to completely destroy. So one could argue that nerves might either be stretched to capacity or utterly torn apart by an upsetting or stressful incident.

  55. MARY, dear, don't hurt yourself coming up with all these word pairs!

    JAN, really. "For all intensive purposes"????? Excuse me while I take a migraine pill. Oh, my, the horror!!!

    As for your punctuation question, common American usage always places commas and periods inside the quotation marks. The placement of other punctuation depends entirely upon the sentence.

  56. Testing to see if I can obliterate the MaryC confusion by changing my profile name or will that obfuscate the situation even more?

  57. JANE, my dear, don't make me come over there. "For you and I"??? Really??? I do hope that was typed in jest. In this case, "except" is a preposition, and "you and ME" is the object of the preposition.

    SUE, I'm pleased you missed only one of the regular questions. Promise me you will never confuse "just deserts" again, however. My dear, "deserts" in this usage is from the same root word as "deserve."

  58. Cowboy Poetry

    They’re racking
    their brains at
    Petticoat Ranch
    ‘cause things
    have gone quite
    Out of control!

    A slew of cattle
    are stuck
    in the slough!
    They’ve seeped
    In too deep
    “What should we do?”

    The vet was surprised
    when he was apprised!
    Scratching his head
    he appraised things
    and said:
    “Get ‘em out now!”

    But it’s an odious task
    and odorous, too!
    What do you advise
    us to do?

    My advice to you.
    (said with no
    more writing
    less cattle
    fewer tribulations.

  59. JULIE H S, my dear! Go to the front of the class! There is room for two teacher's pets, so I'm certain Helen won't mind sharing this honor. I'm not scary. Truly I'm not!

    Ah, STEPHANIE, I have no doubt what a struggle it must be to teach ESL when we have so many confusing words in our language. It is difficult enough for native English speakers, as today's quiz scores certainly indicate.

  60. TINA, do I hear a trace of Cap'n Jack in your tone???

    TINA P, GQ is simply rolling in the aisles at your clever play on words! However, I'm so disappointed. Did you cheat? Really? Oh, my. Well, at least you used reliable reference books, which are a writer's best friends (next to moi, of course).

  61. KAV, my dear, GQ is not averse (notice I did not type "adverse") to a few additional exclamation points where warranted. All I ask is that you do not use them excessively in your manuscripts. And no, you may not have dessert since you erred so flagrantly on the "just deserts" question.

    STEPHANIE Q L (oh, I do delight in meeting another queenly acquaintance!), you have compiled a list of some of our worst offenders in the English language. Tricky, tricky, tricky words indeed!

  62. MARY CURRY, yes, it seems we do have an abundance of Mary Cs in Seekerville. However, a rose (or a Mary) by any other name is equally delightful.

    Ah, VINCE, VINCE, VINCE! Such charming cowboy poetry! And not a grammatical faux pas to be found!

  63. GQ, I believe I have finally figured out the lie/lay issue.
    Which ever one sounds correct is ALWAYS WRONG.


  64. VINCE WROTE A POEM!!!!!!!!!!!!!


    I love it!!!

    You know I once followed a cowboy poet at an event I was speaking out. He made me look like an IDIOT. The seats were PACKED and the crowd laughed through out.

    Me? Well, a few people needed to sit for a while--so the place wasn't empty, but they talked amongst themselves.


  65. PS, any future reference to how I or any other Mary smell, should be avoided. Even if at the very LAST moment you say it's a good smell. Still, I don't like it even coming up for discussion.

    Thank you.

  66. Grammar Queen, I am humbled by the lofty crown you have attained by the power of your intellect, where as my queenship was merely attained by the circumstances of my birth. Alas, I married a rogue, and had to give up my crown, though never the title. :)

    I have another example we get all the time (and I attribute it to laziness):


    A drive thru is the only place you can drive through a drive thru. Never anywhere else. You can drive through rain and snow, but never never thru, unless you are getting a meal. And even then it's not really a real word.

  67. I got all but one! I totally destroyed my brains (wracked) them instead of racked them. Oh, well. But that's a pretty good score, I think!

    How fun, Grammar Queen! :)

  68. Hello Grammar Queen:

    Please, I could use your help.

    For thirty years I’ve have been trying to get people to call lecterns lecterns and not podiums.

    Hotel people even correct me when I ask if there is a ‘lectern’ in the room. They always say, “You mean a podium?” I tell them I’m over six feet tall. I don’t need anything to stand on. Even then they still don’t understand.

    Also, I’m afraid that we are losing control of the word ‘forte’. For years I was corrected in school if I said, ‘that’s my forte’ and pronounced the word as ‘for-tay’. My teachers would say, ‘for-tay’ is an Italian music term. The word you need to use is ‘forte’ pronounced ‘fort’. That’s French for strength.

    Does everything we were taught about grammar in school come with an expiration date?

    True Grammar story.

    When I first took Latin in school I was told that the word ‘child’ could be masculine, feminine or neuter. It could be singular or plural. It therefore could have forty-two different endings depending on how it was used in a sentence. One more thing: there were five sets of forty-two endings. You had to pick the right set (declension). This made the ending options increase to 210 endings.

    In frustration I told the teacher, a very intelligent nun, “This is insane! No one could ever learn how to speak Latin.”

    She said, “you have it wrong. Romans spoke Latin for hundreds of years with ease before the grammarians came along and made it so difficult”.

    That’s a true story. : )


    vmres (at) swbell (dot) net

  69. Oh my. GQ has just returned from lunch to find Seekerville's own MARY has commented several times in my absence. I look forward to observing your mastery of the lay/lie problem.

    STEPHANIE, dear, once royalty, always royalty. Polish up your tiara and wear it with pride, your rogue husband notwithstanding. He will get through/thru it, I promise. ;>D (Yes, readers, you are not mistaken. GQ did just resort to a cute little emoticon.)

  70. PAM, are you saying you thought "spendthrift" referred to a thrifty person?

    Yes, it's the oddest word ever.

    Thrift or thrifty means to be economical or frugal.

    But spendthrift means to spend outrageously, or wastefully.

    It's the total opposite of what you would think it is.


  71. MISSY, please! Gather up your remaining brain cells at once! You can't have done too much damage to have correctly answered most of the questions. Reward yourself with a Godiva chocolate. That should quickly restore any damaged brain matter.

    VINCE, my good man, according to Merriam-Webster, "lectern" is given as one definition of "podium." However, "podium" does imply a raised platform. I'm so sorry you have experienced such dire communication problems with hotel staff.

    And you are most definitely correct about the pronunciation of "forte." However, in today's world, if you pronounce it "FORT," the general public will look at you as if you are a few thousand words short of a dictionary.

  72. Admit it, Vince. You've been wanting to tell that Latin story for EVER!!!!!!!!

    Grammar Queen finally gave you the opening.

    Me? Latin? Not so much.

  73. Okay/ok, so I wasn't concentrating. Three wrong. Sniffle. Totally blew/blue the bonus question. Sniffle. No dessert. But that's alright/all right. Leftover Easter candies abound around the house. I'll drown/drowned/drowneded my sorrows in chocolate.


    Any tips on how to remember whether mantle or mantel is the correct word for the framing around a fireplace?

    I am seeing a lot of usage like this in books published by respected houses: "Him and me are going." "Her and Jane went." "Me and Robert returned." Is this usage (and I am not referring to the verb tenses, thank you) acceptable now?

    Humbled but more educated than I was before I read Grammar Queen's post, I remain Nancy C.

  74. And Vince you are a brave man to sass the nuns.

    Or no, wait. Let me go re-read.

    Maybe you sassed hotel employees, which isn't quite as courageous.

  75. Oh, oh, oh Mizzzz Grammar Queen I have a question. It's me in the back -- the punctuation lover!!!!!

    Is it drug or dragged?

    Up here in Canada the only drugs we have are the kind for medicinal or recreational purposes. But I've noticed that my neighbours to the south sometimes say drug to mean the past tense of drag...like let's see we have a body kicking around and we don't want anyone to find it. Up here we'd say "He dragged the sorry carcass to the edge of the cliff and tossed it over." But some might say it should read, "He drug the sorry carcass to the edge of the cliff and tossed it over." Which is right? I eagerly await your response.

  76. NANCY, GQ completely understands your ambivalence in offering multiple choices for all these sound-alike words. However, sometimes one must take a stand, risk it all, make a choice. Unfortunately, I have no easy solution to remembering whether to use mantle or mantel. Perhaps some gingko biloba would help.

    As for the poor usage you have noticed in certain published books, fie upon those editors!!! NO!!! Such blatant disregard for proper pronoun usage is positively NOT acceptable! You might get away with such abuse in dialogue if the character is intended to be a brainless, uneducated rube, but certainly under no other circumstances.

  77. KAV, according to the clever little dictionary app on my computer, here are the conjugations of the verb "to drag":

    drag |drag|
    verb ( drags, dragging , dragged )

    Does that answer your question, my dear, or would some drugs help?

  78. Forgive me, I should have added that certain characters you may find in Mary Connealy's novels might conceivably have "drug the varmint's sorry carcass to the edge of the canyon and tossed him in."

  79. Hey, Seekerville! Just thought I'd pop in and make sure Grammar Queen is behaving herself. I know how she can get sometimes!

    Oh, boy, hubby has a new toy--a battery-powered lawn mower! Sooooo quiet. And so easy to start and run that I can even do it! We have very little actual grass to mow, so it seemed like a practical solution.

  80. I got 2 or 3 wrong. I blame the single eye and a fair bit of exhaustion [and there for lack of clear thinking]. Otherwise, I would have gotten them all right. Yep. Sure would have.

    Now, dear Grammar Queen, is alright ever all right?

    [Mary, there is a pic on my blog yesterday - just for you.]

  81. Great job, Grammar Queen! I never get desert and desserts straight. Maybe I will now. I also learned about mantle and mantel. Oops, I always get that wrong.

    Thanks for the lesson.

  82. GQ, we must always allow for our very own author's VOICE.
    Which in my case is COWBOY VOICE.

  83. Hi Mary:

    I confess, you know me too well. I have been waiting to tell that Latin story.

    Next, I need a pilot blogger. I have a great story where I landed at a strange airport and parked the plane in front of a runway restaurant. When I left everyone in the restaurant got up and came to the window to watch me leave. I didn’t know why and I waved to them. I parked the plane like it was a car. When I got into the plane, I found out it didn’t have a reverse!

    BTW: There is a saying at the “Western Speaker’s Association”:

    “Following a Cowboy Poet on stage is like following a cattle heard on a cattle drive. You could do it but why would you?”

    Really, given where you live, you probably were speaking behind the Nora Roberts of Cowboy Poetry.

    Actually, I did sass the nuns in high school but only the regular nuns. For subjects like Latin and Calculus, they employed special nuns, the ones with heart-shaped facial habits, and they were way too smart to trifle with. My Latin teacher was the most beautiful woman I’d even seen in person. I’ve loved Latin ever since.

    BTW: Thanks for the free Kindle copy of “Out of Control”. I’m now reading it with delight with very large type! I’m at the part where Wendell joins Sydney in receiving his just deserts. I think I’d pick Audra over Julia.


    GQ: is it possible that ‘spendthrift’ is an
    auto-antonym like the word ‘oversight’ which can mean the opposite of itself?

  84. Hahaha! these were great! And I just wish I had GQ's perky little figure. She's adorable!

    I got them all right but I always pause over racking...

    Oooh, I love thesaurii... Thesaurae... Dinosaurs... Ugh.

  85. Awhile
    Just deserts
    Just deserts
    Just deserts

    Trying to drum this stuff into my brain. I'm not sure I'll ever get just deserts since it's not pronounced like desert. Is it?


  86. CAROL, it's the effort that counts. Usually. As for ALRIGHT, to be honest, GQ does not approve of this variant. However . . . [huge sigh] . . . apparently it has become acceptable, as you can read here: Merrian-Webster.

    The question is: Do you want to be "acceptable"? Or do you want to be correct?

  87. Alas, CARA, mantle/mantel can make one mental! (Excuse me while I titter behind my gloved hand at my own play on words!)

    Yes, dear MARY, you may be permitted your very own cowboy voice. Or cowgirl, as the case may be. Your meteoric rise into the literary stratosphere has earned you this right.

  88. Vince, thanks for your witty tribute to Out of Control. I nominate you for Seekerville's
    Poet laureate!


  89. I don't think alright is ever all right, either, dear Grammar Queen. Ah well...

  90. Mary Connealy said -
    PS, any future reference to how I or any other Mary smell, should be avoided. Even if at the very LAST moment you say it's a good smell. Still, I don't like it even coming up for discussion.

    Just please do not tell me I smell like a cow herd in July.

    Thank you. :)

  91. VINCE. "Following a cattle heard on a cattle drive." HEARD??? My good man, I shall assume this was a typographical error and not a grammatical oversight. No doubt those poor nuns had to go to confession after each of your classes.

    As for "spendthrift," I have located additional information you may find illuminating: "In the early 1600s, when “spendthrift” first showed up in English, 'thrift' meant, among other things, wealth or savings. Thus, someone who spent his wealth, rather than saved it, was a spendthrift."

  92. VIRGINIA! A gold star for you, and an extra visit to the dessert buffet!

    JANET, dearest, no, "deserts" as used in our little quiz is not pronounced the same as, for example, the Sahara Desert. It sounds exactly like the dessert you eat. And I assure you, in time, and with practice, you will master this phrase.

  93. Thank you for this lesson today, Grammar Queen (and as a former teacher I must add that I really like the control you have on the class--no disruptions allowed, which makes for more learning!) *smile* ~ I was feeling quite confident in my quiz answers...until I checked them *sigh*. I missed 3! YIKES!! Oh well, how fortunate we are to have YOU as our teacher. ~ Please enter me in the drawing for the book--I'm always on the look-out for a good thesaurus. ~ Blessings from Georgia, Patti Jo

  94. CAROL, just for agreeing with GQ, you may join Helen and Julie H. S. as "teacher's pets."

    See how easy it is to get on my good side, students? Simply nod and say, "Yes, of course you are right, Grammar Queen. Grammar Queen is always right."

    There, that wasn't so difficult, was it?

  95. PATTI JO, you are so kind to take note of my very obedient students! A teacher MUST have control, mustn't she? Otherwise, the classroom would be sheer bedlam, and we can't have that!

    Perhaps you've also noticed how frequently I must send Mary and Ruthy to the corner. Those two . . .

    And then there's Vince, of course.

  96. Thanks, Grammar Queen. Gave my brain a warm-up. Off to write.

  97. Truly I didn't cheat too badly. Perhaps not at all. The words that get me are those that are spelled the same with different meanings. Like read/ read. I am at a loss which one to use sometimes.


  98. Hi GQ

    Mea Culpa

    Would it help to explain that it was a very foggy day and she was following cattle heard but not seen?”

    It was not a typo. It was actually proofed. I often have problems with homonyms. My fingers just type the most common word. I think it is called ‘muscle memory’. I also never seem to put the ‘d’ on supposed. I don’t think we ever pronounced the ‘d’ in New Jersey when I was growing up.


    P.S. Did Ruth and Mary also have nuns?

  99. Grammar Queen, I love being a teacher's pet but I would love to be more than just a teacher's pet.

    Can we become Grammar Princesses and Princes? Does that require special training?

    Peace, Julie

  100. I Agree with Mary Connealy and Mary Curry. And I have heard that a cow herd in July smells like money. A herd of cattle (more proper) smells like money almost any time.
    I also agree that when some varmint is about to be thrown over the canyon drug is the proper term. And in reference to some comments from yesterday, Nebraska is where the West BEGINS.

    Thanks to everyone for this fun and informative lesson. I will catch up with you all again about midnight tonight Mountain Daylight Time.

  101. TINA, sweetheart, if you are uncertain about when to use "read" or "read," I am not sure how to help you.

    VINCE. See above comment to Tina. What is it they say about children? They should be seen and not herd?

    JULIE H S, I would be delighted to dub thee Grammar Princess! However, you may have to furnish your own tiara.

  102. I've actually smelled that kind of "money." My sister-in-law used to live in a town in Colorado that had a huge feedlot, and when the wind blew from the west . . . oh my!

  103. I'm always up for some good learnin' so thank you Drama Queen. This is another 'keeper' post.

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.


  104. AHEM!!!!!!


    Cindy, please report to the principal's office immediately.

  105. Thank you GQ!!!!! I'm about to do the 'nanananabooboo, I'm right happy dance. I almost forgive you for depriving me of my just desserts. :-)

  106. KAV, it is always my goal to spread happiness and joy wherever I go. I'm so glad I was able to inspire this moment of unabashed delight in you. Do "happy dance" to your heart's content. And have some chocolate. My treat.

  107. How much to accents affect grammar?
    Just askin'? ;-)

  108. I scored below 100, but I did get the bonus question correct. Is that good or bad?

  109. I love when the grammar queen visits!

  110. Oh my, Grammar Queen! What a fun day I missed!

    I cherish the words of wisdom imparted during your visits. They help my feeble mind grroooowwww.

    Thanks for the great post. This one is a keeper--much like all your others!!

  111. Oops! I meant Grammar Queen...


    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.


  112. That was fun. Now I need to give this test to my senior and see how he is doing in Grammar. LOL. Ruth Logan Herne I am VERY jealous that you are going to a frozen custard place. When my parents lived in the north we used to go to one by them when we visited. Yum! That has to be my favorite dessert.

  113. What?!? No desserts? lol LOVED this post...and failed a bit at it. Thanks for teaching us some new stuff!

  114. PEPPER, grammar is grammar, no matter how one speaks. Grammar is either used correctly, or it is not.

    WALT, I'm so pleased you answered the bonus question correctly! That is good. Very good indeed.

    EVA MARIA, GQ loves it when you visit as well. You are a charming addition to my classroom, a ray of bright sunshine, a port in the storm . . .

    Excuse me. I just experienced a sudden metaphor attack.

  115. AUDRA, dear, you were missed as well. I trust you had a good excuse for your late arrival.

    CINDY W, GQ might well suspect a Freudian slip. However, I shall not take offense.

    DEBBIE LYNNE, do report back on how your senior does on my little quiz. You might offer him a frozen custard if he does well.

    JESSICA, if you came away from this lesson with a modicum of increased knowledge, my work is done.

    For now, at least.

    In the words of a famous cyborg, "I'LL BE BACK!"

  116. This comment has been removed by the author.

  117. I'm a day late, but it was still a lot of fun. All but one right. Still, even some of the ones I got right, I learned something in the explanations. Thanks, Grammar Queen!

  118. Ahh ... I got all the quiz questions correct except the bonus one! You did teach me something though. Take the dessert from the table before writing the test. :)

  119. Oh, you are a fantastic teacher Grammar Queen!!!

  120. Thanks, PATRICIA, JODI, & JANET K, for stopping in late! GQ is delighted you found this class helpful!