You’re In The “Throes,” Not “Throws”

For my second installment of Words You Use But Don’t Know, i’d like to introduce you to the word throe.

It sounds just like throw when you say it, so i’ve seen a handful of people write about hearing their phone’s death throws or even remark on the sounds of their neighbors in the throws of passion. What they’re actually saying though is throes, which means violent convulsions or struggle. It’s mostly used as a hyperbole these days, but that doesn’t mean we don’t need to know which word we’re using, right? Right. 😉

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Something “Piques” Your Interest, Not “Peaks”

Today i’m beginning a short series that i like to call: Words That You Use But Don’t Know. You say a phrase you’ve heard before and it sounds right, but when you spell it out it becomes evident to people like me that you don’t actually know what word you’re using. Luckily, i’m here to help.

I’m going to kick it off with “pique,” because i’ve seen that one everywhere lately.

pique, not peak

I received some email last week promising that a new promotion would “peak my interest.” I saw another person on twitter whose interest was “peaked” by something which, sadly, i don’t recall because i was fixated on his or her usage of the wrong word. Pique is a derivation of the French word that literally means prick, but is used to mean arouse excitement or interest. So, what these lovely people meant to say was that interest was piqued, not peaked.

As usual, for the more succinct explanation, see this link. Thank you!

August Adventures

I was going to write two separate posts about my birthday and the Iowa State Fair, but once again i’ve procrastinated too long and so i’m just going to post photos and talk a little bit about them.

For my birthday Nathan got me tickets to three different shows that happened here in Des Moines right around my birthday: Rooney, Phoenix and Tegan & Sara. Rooney was first, and it was a really fun little show in an intimate venue, and it was early in the day which turned out to be nice for us working types. Phoenix was the very next day, and their show was a little too loud and a little too packed and a little too blinding as far as the light show, but it was still fun.

Next came my actual b-day, which i spent trying on wedding dresses, watching Eat, Pray, Love and playing Apples to Apples with a handful of my lovely friends.

A few days later we saw Tegan & Sara, which was definitely an interesting show. They performed at Hoyt Sherman which is a really lovely old venue here in Des Moines. There was no opening band, and T&S played two sets: an acoustic set and one with the full band. During the first set they did some Q&A sessions which got to be a little long-winded, but they’re funny people so it was interesting to hear them talk about some adventures they’ve had both in the recording studio and on the road. We had to cut out of the second set a little early, but i still got to hear all of my favorite T&S songs.

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Nathan’s gifts (comic books & concert tickets!)

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Nathan made me tacos and fresh tortilla chips, french toast, and strawberry shortcake for my b-day. It was all AWESOME.

Happy Birthday "Stephanie"
First thing i saw when i got to work Monday. Love it.

The day after Tegan & Sara, we went to the Iowa State Fair. If you haven’t been to our fair, it’s pretty much the best one in the country. And i say that because i think Martha Stewart said it, or something. It’s all about excess: who grows the fattest pig, the biggest pumpkin, the most enormous stalk of corn; how many calories can we pack into a single $6 fried-on-a-stick commodity; how many big ol’ corn-fed Iowans can you pack into a few hundred acres? I used to absolutely hate it and now i think it’s great fun.

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I really wanted to steal a little chickie. They’re SO CUTE.

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The calf looked a little sad.

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Our famous Butter Cow. Life-size, all butter.

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The biggest pumpkin weighed over 1,000 lbs.

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So *that’s* why they call it eggplant.

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That cabbage in the back was the size of a beach ball.

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…And these were tiny! I like photographing produce…

Star Boars
“Star Boars” sand sculpture

Jabba
Jabba

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A sampling of the many, many pretty quilts

This year we ate: mini doughnuts, some rootbeer, a couple of exorbitantly priced brewskis, fried cheese curds (a must), i had 2/3 of a tenderloin (it took a while to find one that wasn’t the size of a dinner plate), and a turkey leg which we took home and made stock with. Have i mentioned that we’re getting really into the whole “domestic” thing?

The Apostrophe Song

Someone contacted me via flickr a few weeks ago asking permission to use one of my English error photos in some video, so i told them that would be fine. A few days ago i received an email containing a link to the finished video: The Apostrophe Song. I guess it’s actually a promo for an iPhone app that teaches you how to use apostrophes correctly. So here’s the video, and one of those photos was taken by me. 🙂

Kinda catchy, eh? “Don’t put an apostrophe in ‘its’ unless you mean ‘it is.'” 😉

The I’s Have It

Everyone already knows how much i hate it when people misuse the word “literally,” so no need to write about that again, even if my annoyance only continues to rise. But there’s another English peeve i have that i haven’t mentioned here yet.

I find my teeth clenching uncontrollably when people write “I’s” and they aren’t talking about multiples of the letter I.

“I’s” is not English. You should say “my.” You would never say “I’s house” when talking about your dwelling if you weren’t faced with the grammatical problem of describing a place that belongs to both you and another person, so don’t say it when you are. The IMproper phrase would be “Nathan and I’s house.” The PROPER phrase is “Nathan’s and my house.”

Please scroll down to the Compound Possessives section on this page. Study it! Remember it! People like me will thank you! 🙂

Thanks & have a nice day.

More Fun With Apostrophes

I’ve come across a couple of apostrophe misuses this week that i thought might amuse my readership.

The first is a screenshot from @robbyg (that’s how we refer to Rob on Twitter), which i like for two reasons: 1. It’s an ad for the Dell Adamo, and 2. It has a lovely misuse of “it’s.”

Dell Apostrophe Mistake
Excessive Apostrophe

What they meant to say, of course, is, “in a class of its own.” It’s is a contraction of it is or it has, whereas its is the possessive form of it.

The second image is a photo i took this Tuesday of the menu at Granite City. The apostrophe is mysteriously missing:

A Chocolate Lovers
Missing Apostrophe

The phrase “a chocolate lovers” makes no sense. The possessive form of “lover,” in this case – as with most nouns – requires an apostrophe. Lovers is just lover pluralized, whereas what they meant to write is, “a chocolate lover’s dream.”

Also, as a bonus, i’m pretty sure your self in the following sentence should just be yourself. Yes? Anyone?

The cake, by the way, was delicious. 😉

Things i’ve learned lately

Words that are one word:

meantime
earful

Words that are two words:

every day

Unless, that is, you’re using the word “everyday,” which is an adjective used to describe a daily activity/thing.

Examples:

For Steph, dry skin is an everyday problem.
She has to put lotion on her hands every day.

I’ve been calling people i don’t know EVERY DAY for the past week and a half trying to get this thing and that thing all figured out and hooked up and re-checked and working properly. The weird-flushing toilet. The non-operational door keys. The new cell phone line. Oh my god, the new cell phone line. The wireless internet. Everything is finally working, i think. We just need our window shades and couches to be delivered now. And we need to hang things on the walls.

One EVERYDAY annoyance is the fact that there’s some clattery noise coming from the radiator or the windows or something, which drives me NUTS. I’m about to start wearing headphones constantly. Sleeping is especially difficult, no thanks to the light pouring in through the window above our front door from the brilliant beams out in the hallway. Whose awesome idea was THAT?

The stress will fade away soon, and i’ll start bragging about what an amazing place i live in now. I promise.