June 2015

Word Smarts
(Ouch! Did I use that word the wrong way again?)

Match the name of the collector with her hobby.

philatelist                               coins
bibliophile                              matchbooks
numismatist                           postcards
phillumenist                           stamps
deltiologist                             books

See the correct answers at the bottom of this newsletter.

Grammar To Go
Takeout tips for better writing

I feel bad you sing so badly

If the title of this tip sounds wrong to you, read on!

A super common mistake comes from something we all succumb to from time to time: hypercorrection. In other words, we generalize grammar rules and apply them to sentences where they don’t belong. To say, I feel badly is one common example of a mistake due to hypercorrection.

We know the rule is to use an adverb to describe a verb, as in I type slowly or you talk quickly. However, things change when it comes to verbs of the senses (sight, touch, hearing, taste, etc.). To say I feel badly means something more like I have a clumsy sense of touch than I am sorry. Take a look at these examples:

She looks bad.

Peter’s cough sounds bad.

My son thinks fennel tastes bad.


I feel happy (not happily).

I feel stupid (not stupidly).

I feel clever (not cleverly).

So, remember to always stick with I feel bad and you’ll be good to go!

Writing Tips

For the Love of Language
—Just Look It up!

When a new word comes across your radar screen, you’ll probably look it up. While proofreading your writing, you may check the spelling of a word or two. That reliable resource—the dictionary—comes to your service time and again.

Have you ever noticed that this solid-as-a-rock reference does, in fact, change? Dictionaries grow and evolve. New words and phrases are added, while existing entries are updated to their current definitions. Just last month, Merriam-Webster added more than 1,700 new entries.

Dictionaries represent our dynamic language. They aren’t rulebooks so much as they are a collective understanding of how language is used. They are descriptive, not prescriptive.

So what gets included? Dictionary editors track language over time. They pay attention to the language that is used often, words that are frequent in writing—journals, newspapers, books, magazines, online articles—and when the usage becomes common, we get a new entry in the dictionary.

The Merriam-Webster online dictionary is unabridged, which means it’s roomier and inclusive—more lexicon at our fingertips.


Here are some of their newest entries:

click fraud—clicking an online ad over and over to drive up the ad fees

emoji—those cute little e-characters to show how we feel

crema—the best part of your espresso

lambrusco—sparkling red wine

jeggings—jeans meet leggings

WTF—can you believe it!

Word Smarts answers:

philatelist                   stamps
bibliophile                  books
numismatist               coins
phillumenist               matchbooks
deltiologist                postcards