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I prefer to call myself a “grammar enthusiast” vs. a “grammar Nazi” – though not Jewish myself, I always think of a Nazi warily.  I am quite aware of the rules of grammar and speech, and it drives me absolutely bonkers when people speak and spell incorrectly, confusing me with their meaning: No, you did not “go to the bar to”.  What did you go to the bar to do?  You went to the bar ALSO, as in too.  Got that?

Tirade over (but know I judge you), I was thrilled to figuratively stumble over The 32 Most Commonly Misused Words and Phrases listed on the Help! Educational blog, touting “Learning is a Lifestyle”.  I know I’m not perfect (though I must say my Mom is typically the only one who can ever correct me!) and you’re likely not perfect either so the list below is a good thing to review, as you never know the next time you’ll be asked to know the difference between less & few, further & farther. In light of full disclosure I will admit to having used discreet/discrete incorrectly in the past, ew. Enjoy!

1.Accept/Except- Although these two words sound alike (they’re homophones), they have two completely different meanings. “Accept” means to willingly receive something (accept a present.) “Except” means to exclude something (I’ll take all of the books except the one with the red cover.)

2. Affect/Effect- The way you “affect” someone can have an “effect” on them. “Affect” is usually a verb and “Effect” is a noun.

3. Alright- If you use “alright,” go to the chalkboard and write “Alright is not a word” 100 times.

4. Capital/Capitol- “Capitol” generally refers to an official building. “Capital” can mean the city which serves as a seat of government or money or property owned by a company. “Capital” can also mean “punishable by death.”

5. Complement/Compliment- I often must compliment my wife on how her love for cooking perfectly complements my love for grocery shopping.

6. Comprise/Compose- The article I’m composing comprises 32 parts.

7. Could Of- Of the 32 mistakes on this list, this is the one that bothers me most. It’s “could have” not “could of.” When you hear people talking, they’re saying “could’ve.” Got it?

8. Desert/Dessert- A desert is a hot, dry patch of sand. Dessert, on the other hand, is the sweet, fatty substance you eat at the end of your meal.

9. Discreet/Discrete- We can break people into two discrete (separate) groups, the discreet (secretive) and indiscreet.

10. Emigrate/Immigrate- If I leave this country to move to Europe, the leaving is emigrating and the arriving is immigrating.

11. Elicit/Illicit- Some people post illicit things on message boards to elicit outrageous reactions from others.

12. Farther/Further- Farther is used for physical distance, whereas further means to a greater degree.

13. Fewer/Less- Use fewer when referring to something that can be counted one-by-one. Use less when it’s something that doesn’t lend itself to a simple numeric amount.

14. Flair/Flare- A flair is a talent, while a flare is a burst (of anger, fire, etc.)

15. i.e/e.g- I.e. is used to say “in other words.” E.g. is used in place of “for example.”

16. Inflammable- Don’t let the prefix confuse you, if something is inflammable it can catch on fire.

17. It’s/Its- It’s= it is. Its=a possessive pronoun meaning of it or belonging to. Whatever you do, please don’t use its’.

18. Imply/Infer- A reader infers what an author implies. In other words, when you imply something, you hint at it. When you infer something, you draw a conclusion based on clues.

19. Literally- If you say “His head literally exploded because he was so mad!” then we should see brains splattered on the ceiling.

20. Lose/Loose- If your pants are too loose you may lose them. That would be almost as embarrassing as misusing these two words.

21. Moral/Morale- Morals are something you want to teach your kids. If your team’s morale is low, you need to do something to boost their confidence.

22. Percent/Percentage- The word “percent” should only be used when a specific number is given. “Percentage” is more of a general term.

23. Stationary/Stationery- You are stationary when you aren’t moving. Stationery is something you write on.

24. Then/Than- “Then” is another word for “after.” Incidentally, the word “then” makes for boring writing. “Than” is a comparative word (e.g. I am smarter than you).

25. There/Their/They’re- There are few things as frustrating as when I look at my students’ writing and they’re misusing these words in their writing.

26. Unique- Something can’t be “kind of unique” or even “very unique.” It’s either one-of-a-kind or it isn’t. There is no in between when it comes to unique.

27. Your/You’re- If I had a nickel for every time I saw this one… yeah, you know the rest. “Your” shows ownership and you’re is a contraction meaning “you are.” Get it right.

28. To/Too/Two- Two is a number. “To” is used in instances such as, “I am going to the store.” If you are supposed to use the word “too,” try inserting the word “extra” or “also.” If one of those fits, you need to also add the extra “o” to make “too.”

29. Lie/Lay- After you lay the books on the table, go lie down on the couch.

30. Sit/Set- Set your drink on the table and sit in your chair. Got it?

31. Whose/Who’s- Whose is the possessive form of who. Who’s is a contraction meaning “who is.”

32. Allude/Elude- When someone alludes to something in conversation (indirectly references), if you aren’t paying attention the meaning may elude you (escape you).

Which misused words drive you crazy? Share them in the replies.

It’s Friday, why don’t we all put down our latest novel, link arms and take a little jaunt in this gorgeous Chicago weather and our favorite little BYOB spot and celebrate the weekend and the win by the Cubs.

Our latest BYO Crew!

Our latest BYO Crew!

Oh, wait, you’re sick of your go-to BYOB restaurant and want something new, that’s also affordable?  I mean who can afford to pay for drinks in this economy! Oh I’m hearing an interest in outdoor seating?  Can do!

Take a gander at the amazing new website http://www.GoByo.com!  Able to sort by such important characteristics as location, meals served and features (40 available! Such as outdoor seating, dancing, or if you’re drinking so many calories you need to compensate with light food, they even have a healthy meal option!).  Much more reliable than Yelp!, this nifty little site was publicized in Thrillist’s Daily Chicago email (sign up here: http://www.thrillist.com/signup) and will definitely be a site I frequent.

Happy Friday & GO CUBS GO!

True Connoisseurs = Classy Wine

True Connoisseurs = Classy Wine

I like to think of myself as a wine connoisseur, though as my OUB & OAD (aunt & uncle, the legitimate connoisseurs) would tell you, I just like all booze!  Though my palette may not be picky, my wallet definitely is (which bodes well for cheap wines sold in bulk).  So even though I can’t afford nice “vintage” wine (not to mention wouldn’t be aware of the difference), I like to know a little bit about what I’m drinking and what I should be cursing the next morning.  That’s where Alpana comes in…

The youngest Master Sommelier (quite the title, and she didn’t even go to a real college per se but a wine school!), Alpana Singh resides in Chicago, has worked at luxurious restaurant Everest and has written the successful book Alpana Pours: About being a woman, loving wine & having great relationships.  Quite the title and I admit I was skeptical, until Alpana pulled me in with her wit, knowledge, and wine jokes even I could appreciate.

Summer Wine!

Summer Wine!

Though I’m not quite finished with the book (I thought I had lost it for awhile and found it on the shelf, right where it belongs… Who would’a thought?!), I did come across an Alpana article in the Tribune’s “RedEye” today I thought I would share, that’s so relevant on this (finally!) sunny day.

To RedEye and Alpana, hope you don’t mind me copying this article, and my deepest thanks go to you for choosing affordable wines to celebrate the season, so go ahead and pour yourself a glass of sunshine! For more Alpana, visit her blog at http://www.whatwouldalpanadrink.blogspot.com.

Wine faves change with the weather

By: Alpana Singh, April 15, 2009
Alpana Singh

Alpana Singh

People often ask me, “What’s your favorite wine?” While I do have certain preferences, I find that my answer varies according to my mood, which often is dictated by the weather.

During the cool winter months, I tend to comfort myself with rich, full-bodied wines such as cabernet sauvignon or malbec. Their velvety textures envelop me like a warm blanket, and they pair well with cool-weather classics such as pot roast and braised short ribs.

Now that we are beginning to see signs of spring and the weather is beginning to warm up, I’m starting to crave lighter dishes and more refreshing wines to go with them. Lighter-bodied wines that are low on oak and big on flavors of green apples, lemons and stone fruits complement the fresh peas, asparagus, morel mushrooms and leeks I enjoy during spring season. As I grow tired of the cold, I become bored with the big, heavy reds, and my favorites become sauvignon blanc, torrontes, chenin blanc and assyrtiko. The aromas of these lighter varietals lighten my mood as they evoke the essence of spring and warmer days–crisp weather, freshly cut flowers, sprouting lawns and farmer’s market produce. I’ll enjoy these wines until the weather truly begins to warm up, and by then I’ll have a new set of favorites.

While we may not have the ability to control the weather, we can certainly turn to these styles of wine to put a little sunshine in our glass.

2007 Alamos torrontes
Argentina, $12
Torrontes is an Argentine specialty. With its exotically perfumed notes of white flowers and peaches, it’s a wonderful match for asparagus or your first outdoor meal of the season.

2008 Graham Beck chenin blanc
South Africa, $15
The French use chenin blanc to make slightly sweet vouvray wine. South Africans, who refer to chenin as steen, prefer a drier version with flavors of yellow apples and honeysuckle. Pair with morel mushrooms and asparagus or a tangy wedge of goat cheese.

2008 Brander sauvignon blanc
Santa Ynez, Calif.; $15
Vibrant and juicy with flavors of grapefruit, lemon zest and freshly cut grass, this selection is more in line with a New Zealand style than a California one. Pair it with a spring pea risotto for the ultimate ode to spring.

2008 Sigalas assyrtiko
Santorini, Greece; $18
Fans of crisp Italian whites will enjoy the refreshing zing of assyrtiko, an ancient Greek varietal indigenous to the island of Santorini. Winemaker Paris Sigalas produces a style bursting with citrus fruit. Pair with shellfish, grilled fish and Greek-inspired dishes.

Full article here: http://redeye.chicagotribune.com/red-041509-alpana,0,5798755.column

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