A Closer Look … Misuse of our everyday words

with Anthony Newcombe 

How to improve our use of words

Communication nation

A “Blast from the Past” Edition (so much fun, we’ll re-publish it!) 

Flubbing our words and phrases?   

nother vs. another (“That’s a whole nother world”) 

Uh, NO it is not.  But it IS a whole incorrect sentence.  I’ve sat in professional meetings, witnessed intelligent people on television and interacting on large city streets misuse this term over and over.  How about “a whole OTHER” perhaps? It’s easy to remember because all you have to do to not be wrong is simply drop one tiny letter, the “a” 

uncharted vs. unchartered (“We’re in uncharted territory”) 

Here lies another constant.  It is used with such frequency that even we may, at times, become confused as to which is the correct choice.  When navigating areas (or waters) that are unfamiliar are we “in uncharted waters” or are we in “unchartered waters?”   

I always believed, being part of the general “charter” community, that the correct usage would be unchartered; meaning “not ever having sailed through these waters.”  However, if we think of “uncharted” waters, we could reflect on our childhood where gold, treasures & stuff existed – and envision other option of “attempting to navigate a map without any defined charts.”   Who knows…? 

pacificly vs. specifically (“I was pacificly talking about the last time I saw him”) 

We probably first heard this one around the holiday dinner table spouted from the mouth of our Aunt Ida.  ‘Pacificly’ is NOT a word.  Just noticing all of the red underlining will tell you that spellcheck specifically disagrees with you.  However, “pacifically” IS an actual word, but is still incorrect if used in this situation.  It may refer to a large body of the earth’s ocean separating numerous islands that we would love to charter (or chart). 

relevant vs. relative (“It’s all relevant!!”) 

No, it is NOT.  My understanding is of ‘relevant’ is that which is pertinent to or important to something else.  ‘Relative’ is more of an “it depends” or “relates to.”  See? It’s easy to remember… 

supposably vs. supposedly  (“She was supposably the one…”) 

Supposably is just horrible all the way around.  (Again, see all of the red in spellcheck if you don’t trust me) It sounds like you took the wrong advice of your Uncle Vito from that fantasy sports commercial.  However, it is a never-ending misuse of a pretty cool word…supposedly.  “Supposable” is supposedly a word, whereas “supposably” is a sign of, well, incorrect grammar. 

misconfuse vs. misconstrue  (“He misconfused what I said to him”) 

This was one I heard about a decade or more ago on one of those live court television programs where an actual hitman in a criminal case testified using (or misusing) one big word after another.  It was so amazing that I couldn’t turn the television off and was late to the office as a result.  However, it continues to be a source of humor that my spouse and I still occasionally giggle about to this day. 

One final note 

Back in high school (a few years back), I recall a hilarious moment in English class when our teacher informed us that one of her students required a tongue-lashing for incorrectly using a transition.  In a nutshell, the student stated his idea in one sentence but then attempted to transition it with a new sentence beginning with “Another words” instead of “In other words.” Though I felt bad that the teacher publicly shamed him (she’d probably be fired for it in today’s class), I must admit that I laughed at it as much (and as loudly) as anyone.   

A ‘word to the wise’ (Oops, I mean “words” to the wise) 

  • K.I.S.S. (no, not the Gene Simmons variety) 
  • K-E-E-P 
  • I-T 
  • S-I-M-P-L-E 
  • S-I-M-P-L-E-T-O-N 

Anything you have to say? 

-A.N. 

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