Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Compound words

And now it's time for another in our ever-unpopular series of Grammar Rants.

If a word is formed by joining two other words, that does not mean every time those two words appear in sequence, they get replaced by the one word. This is obvious in a few cases: "I was so frustrated at my attempt to bake cookies, I started throwing things. You should have seen that butterfly into the window." But too often it gets mixed up when the meaning isn't quite as different, but is still different.

Don't walk into that room. Above all, don't give in to those demands.

My computer's last backup was out of date, so I decided to back up all the data on it.

There are some times that don't work for meetings here, because the boss sometimes has to go to headquarters on short notice on Mondays.

Here's the handout for this week's class. Please hand out copies to everyone in your group.

Your login ID and default password have been placed into the envelope; please log in to the system and change your password as soon as possible.

Drat, I had a bunch of really good ones I saw in news articles recently, but I didn't note where they were and I can't find them now. I'll edit them into this post as I find them again.

Incidentally, am I just getting grumpier, or is proofreading in the newspapers really plummeting? I've seen some overt grammar and spelling errors in headlines lately that are so awful that even Microsoft Word's spell checker and grammar checker could have caught them. And that's in the headlines. Today I saw one use the word "cache" when it meant "cachet"; they're not even pronounced the same. And it's not just in my local papers, it's in Reuters News feeds just as often. What's going on?

1 comment:

litlfrog said...

One of the instructors in my online class is far too cavalier about capitalization and punctuation. An INSTRUCTOR. I think, and I'm not just in grumpy old man mode here, that use of standard English just isn't considered as important as it used to be. The idea seems to be that if the reader can get the sense of what you're saying, that's good enough.