Mystery Author: Strong Women, Great Stories

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I write three series: The Loser Mysteries, The Dead Detective Mysteries & the Simon & Elizabeth (Tudor) Mysteries as well as stand-alones that offer readers "Strong Women, Great Stories."
These days I also answer to Maggie Pill, who writes a cozy sleuth series. Maggie is a lot like Peg, just younger, cooler, and funnier.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Being Precise



This is a re-post from 2011. Just not up to being clever right now.

I know that language changes over time. It has to. I know that clinging to the old ways is futile and might make me seem cantankerous or even silly. But it was my job, for three decades, to guard the language, to see that people under my care used it clearly rather than sloppily, thinking about what they wanted to convey as well as what other people might make of it. So I'm going to list some things that seem to me worth keeping in our language.
PLEASE KEEP distinctions between similar words. People who are aware of the differences listed here are disappearing, yet there is good reason for keeping their separate meanings.
                nauseated/nauseous-People become nauseated when they encounter something that is nauseous.
                might/may-I might call and ask you if I may take you out to dinner.
                farther/further-He went farther than anyone else to further grammatical awareness.
                fewer than/less than- She ate fewer M&M's than he did but drank less soda.
                bust/burst-The police burst through the door to bust the drug dealers.
PLEASE USE the correct word or word form. If we think as we speak (gasp) we might recall the things we were taught. Yes, grammar rules change, but it's hard to have a sensible system when usage is sloppy. I say keep the simple rules and do away with the goofy ones. The examples below result from not thinking about what is being said.
                Say, "Drive slowly" not "drive slow". The verb should be modified by an adverb that       tells how the driving is to be done.  We can add that things should taste "really good" as well, since adjectives are modified by adverbs just as verbs are.
                Write "I'm supposed to" instead of "I'm suppose to". Since we've lost the sense of the word "suppose" in this phrase, which was originally something like "it is supposed (expected) that I will do this" we have begun to lose the form it should take too.
                Write "I would have" instead of "I would of". It's easy to explain, difficult to fix. People hear of" not "have", so they spell the word they hear, despite the fact that it makes no sense. (Perhaps we shouldn't worry. It will become "woulda", anyway.)
I do not contend that being precise will save your soul, make you healthier, or turn the economy around. I just like it a lot (TWO words) when people speak and write precisely.

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