by Marsha Ward
Let us go back to my series on the complexities of English, and how using it carelessly can leave us with egg on our faces, shall we?
I often see instances in written English where mistakes are made with our peculiar sayings, phrases that have been handed down from ages past; or in stringing words together that make no sense; or in using nearly the right word, but missing the mark. I'll revisit the pair in tact and intact, for an example of the second type of boo-boo. I merely brushed against it previously. Here's a more in depth look.
Tact is that delicate perception of the right thing to do or say without offending. I notice when it is used with the preposition in to form the odd phrase in tact instead of using the perfectly good adjective intact, meaning "unimpaired or uninjured, kept or left whole."
You might say I'm lacking in tact to even mention it, but I'd like my fellow travelers in the English-speaking world to keep the language intact, and use it carefully as we pass it down to the young.
I thought I'd mentioned the misuse of in lieu of before, but it seems I didn't. I've seen it misused for in view of. The first really means "instead of" or "in the place of." I chose to eat soup in lieu of salad.
In view of means "on account of;" "in consideration of."
In view of the shortage of time, each person may only speak for three minutes.
I recently saw in lieu of used instead of in light of. In lieu of just won't do in its place. In light of is similar to "due to," meaning (oddly enough) "in view of," or "because of."
In light of the flood damage discovered in the church building on Saturday, Sunday services will not be held at the chapel for about a month. One could easily use the phrase "due to" or "in view of" and maintain the same meaning.
Let's look at cases where the wrong word that sounds exactly like the one we want to use confuses us. Take chock and chalk, or stock and stalk, for instance (or do and due).
Chock has a couple of meanings. As a noun, it means a wedge or block placed under a wheel to keep it in place. You see this in movies about airplanes. You know, they have to pull the chocks out from the wheels before they take off to save the day. As an intransitive verb, it means the action of putting the chocks in place; to wedge fast. As an adverb, chock means as close or tight as can be. We often see it used as an adjective: chock-full.
Chalk is soft, whitish limestone. It's also that substance or similar used for writing on a blackboard, or green board (see that in old movies or TV, folks, especially if you grew up with white boards and washable markers); a piece of chalk. Adjective: made with chalk; verb: to mark or rub with chalk. When combined with "up," it means to score, get, or achieve: chalk up.
Okay, here's your assignment. Tell us the differences between stock and stalk. Use examples. Thank you.