Wednesday, December 22, 2010

WORDS and the English Language

If you're blogfesting, see the previous post.

Check this out. The English language is amazingly complex--this is what we as writers have to work with? You may have seen this before, but humor me…I need an easy post since it's close to Christmas, and since I blogfested pretty much all day on Monday with breaks only for meals, a brief fit of exercising, and two loads of laundry. But I got through all 110 entries, and boy, was it fun!

No Wonder English is So Hard to Learn:

We polish the Polish furniture.
He could lead if he would get the lead out.
A farm can produce produce.
The dump was so full it had to refuse refuse.
The soldier decided to desert in the desert.
The present is a good time to present the present.
At the Army base, a bass was painted on the head of a bass drum.
The dove dove into the bushes.
I did not object to the object.
The insurance for the invalid was invalid.
The bandage was wound around the wound.
There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.
They were too close to the door to close it.
The buck does funny things when the does are present.
They sent a sewer down to stitch the tear in the sewer line.
To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.
The wind was too strong to wind the sail.
I shed a tear when I saw the tear in my clothes.
I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.
How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?
I spent last evening evening out a pile of dirt.

Whew. All I can say is I'm really glad English is my first language. My condolences to anyone who is learning English.

Sometimes when writing a novel, I have to think of different words to replace these kinds of words with. Such as wind (what blows leaves around) and wind (something meandering or flowing through). If the meaning is obvious and clear, great--but if upon first read my critique partners or I think of the alternate meaning or pronunciation, the word has to be ditched.

On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest, how do you rate yourself on grammar, spelling, vocabulary, and word usage?

If you don't score high, do you have critique partners who are better at it, to help you polish your manuscript?

Do any of the above-listed mirror words trip you up, and make you have to re-word your sentences for clarity?

My answer: I think I'm about an 8.5. However, that doesn't stop me from slipping up and leaving flubs for my critters to catch. A common grammar mistake I make is doing something like: "everyone walked down the hall, carrying their books," since everyone is singular and thus the pronoun should be his or her.


  1. Oh yeah, English is a doozy! "Their" is used all the time as the generic substitute of his/her, though of course it's wrong. I find I slip all the time on it when I'm speaking, but writing it down or seeing it written down bothers me to no end.

    I don't know what rating I'd give myself. In some areas of grammar, I'm very knowledgeable, but there are plenty of other areas where I'm still making mistakes.

  2. English is complex, and, like you, my heart goes out to anyone trying to learn the language. I think I would give myself maybe an "8" on the scale. I make mistakes all the time -- sometimes I catch them and sometimes I don't

    It's comforting to know, though, that even professional speakers mess up from time to time. I remember a local newscast from a few years ago when the news anchor said, "A body was found today by two women face down in the mud." I never got that image out of my head.

  3. I'd probably be an 8 but lazy days and first drafts I might be a 6 (lol)

  4. Interesting post. I read it and now I will read it again. LOL
    N. R. Williams, fantasy author

  5. Hi Carol - I'll tell you, when I first started several years ago, I'd say a three. Now, probably a 7. My crit partners are better, thankfully. I have to agree, though - glad English is my first language. Whew!

  6. I'm an 8.5 too. However, I have 9 days and I have 5 days, ha ha!

  7. I have seen that before, and I REALLY don't envy anyone who is trying to learn English as a non-first language!! Thankfully it is my first language, so I think maybe I'd give myself an 8...

  8. I think I might be an 8. Though I'm with Lydia, I have 5 days as well.

  9. Great post! I think I'm at least an 8. I wouldn't be much of an English teacher otherwise. LOL. :-)

  10. I'm very thankful English is my first language. I'm no good at math, but I rate myself an eight as far as grammar, spelling, vocabulary and word usage.

  11. That's so funny and yet so true. How would I rank myself with grammar? I'm probably a three even though I constantly study the craft. I'm just really stupid when it comes to that stuff.

  12. I have a good friend from Guatamala. A very good friend from Holland. Both say English is a real pain to learn as an adult. Have no pain this Christmas week. Only magic that lasts all through the New Year! Roland

  13. good english words
    keep up the good work

  14. I'd say I'm about a 5. Yep, awesome critique partners help catch what I don't. I'm also thankful English is my first language because heck, there are so many rules and exceptions to those rules. I don't know how other people learn it!

  15. I am so glad that English is my first language. I used to be a 10 on that scale. It was really cool when I was younger to be known for my grammar, etc. People would call me for help. Crazy! Now? I've lost it over the years (or maybe don't care about being so perfect all the time). I'd say I'm likely down around a 7 at the moment. GREAT post!!


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