Tag: grammar

Throwing shade since the 1600s

I recently learned an awesome (if you’re a word nerd) bit of trivia. I was looking up “umbrage” for reasons that I’ve now forgotten, and discovered that its original meaning was “shadow” (as from a parasol or umbrella). To quote the Oxford Dictionaries, the etymology of the word is:

Late Middle English (sense 2): from Old French, from Latin umbra ‘shadow’. An early sense was ‘shadowy outline’, giving rise to ‘ground for suspicion’, whence the current notion of ‘offence’.

So umbrage has been…wait for it…throwing shade since the 17th century. English — what a beautiful language. (More here.)

Faze vs. Phase

The noun phase most commonly means “a stage in a process of change or development” (a phase of the moon, a kid going through a phase) or “a state of matter” (e.g., a phase change of water is going from liquid to gas). Its verb form is less common but means “to carry out in gradual stages” (e.g., to phase in or out a tax credit).ijrq_trek_iii_movie_phaser If you’re a nerd like me, you might also think of a phaser, a weapon that delivers a beam that can be set to “stun.” 🙂

The verb faze means “to disturb or disconcert (someone),” as in, “his antics don’t faze me.”

You generally do not want anyone to “phase” you…even at stun.

So here’s your grammar quip.

Captain Kirk observed several phases of the creature’s lifecycle,
but nothing could faze him with his phaser at the ready.

As a side note, I think I fixed the mobile viewing experience on my website, so let me know if you’re still not getting a mobile view when you view my site on your phone.

Tenet or Tenant? Grammar help you can remember!

A basic tenet of owning a rental:
Your tenant quality is fundamental!

Bonus! I’ll give you pictures.

Tenet: a belief (not necessarily religious) or principle

Tenant: someone who rents a space

Tennant: To me, always the Tenth Doctor

Okay, yes, I was basically just looking for an excuse to have a Tenth Doctor picture.

Affect vs. Effect: Grammar Help You Can Remember

These two words, affect and effect, cause a great deal of consternation in English, no doubt because they sound similar and each can be either a noun or a verb. The quickest rule of thumb is that, in most cases, you affect something (verb) and cause an effect (noun).

Side note: the noun affect is pronounced AFFect, as opposed to all the other instances of both words, which put the emphasis on the second syllable.

Second side note: the less common meaning of the verb affect is to pretend or feign something (as in the example in the link where one can “affect a Southern accent”). I couldn’t fit that into the rhyme. 🙂

Finally, here’s your hopefully memorable quip:

From a cause, an effect, about that there’s no doubt;
And you’re effecting a change if you bring it about.
Affect as a noun is likely not what you meant,
So affect others’ grammar and send this to them.

Lead, lead or led? Grammar Help You Can Remember!

The verb to lead rhymes with need, speed, and indeed, but the past tense is led that rhymes with dead. The famously dense metal lead also rhymes with dead. 

Here’s a quip to help you remember:
Lead in the water led Flint to disaster,
but “lead dead redemption” could come to be
if only its leaders would lead!

(This is the first in a series that I will publish periodically of my grammatical pet peeves, transformed into hopefully memorable quips to help you polish your work.)