Grammar Gremlins: Dreyer’s English Part 2

Here are a few examples from the useful lists Benjamin Dreyer includes in his very entertaining Dreyer’s English.


These from The Confusables frequently confuse me (when in doubt, look it up):

Anymore (We’re not in Kansas anymore) and any more (I don’t want any more chocolate, said no one ever).

Berg (an iceberg) and burg (slang term for a town or city).

Eminent (renowned, famous), imminent (arriving soon), and immanent (inherent).

Imply (to suggest without saying) and infer (to deduce from information).

Loath (adjective meaning reluctant) and loathe (verb meaning detest).

Peak (summit), peek (glance), and pique (stimulate or excite)

Prone (lying on one’s stomach) and supine (lying on one’s back).

Prophecy (noun) and prophesy (verb).

From The Trimmables, extra words you can easily cut (and you should!):

Close proximity. Direct confrontation. End result. Fall down. Fiction novel. Free gift. Glance briefly. Past history. Unexpected surprise.

Perhaps my favorite on this list is assless chaps, referring to Western wear rather than men with no butts. As Dreyer says, look at a cowboy. From behind. A vision dear to the heart of many a romance writer.


From the section on brand names and trademarks you’ll want to spell and use correctly:

You probably know that Frigidaire is an old brand name refrigerator, but did you know that Onesies is a brand name owned by Gerber Childrenswear? Generically speaking, they are diaper shirts or infant bodysuits (said no one ever). Ping-Pong, Porta-Potty, Realtor, and Sheetrock are also registered trademarks.


And from Easily Misspelled Words (several of which I misspelled while typing):

Acknowledgment. Battalion. Buoy, buoyancy, and buoyant. Dachshund. Diphtheria. Fuchsia (not fuschia). Liaison. Mischievous (not mischievious). Occurred, occurrence, and occurring. Pastime. Pharaoh. Restaurateur (not restauranteur). Seize and seized.


Here’s one more I-didn’t-know-that tidbit: Skulduggery, lately often spelled skullduggery, has nothing to do with skulls or digging them up. In fact it comes from an old Scots term for fornication.


Let’s see you use that one in a romance!

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