Category: Mrs. B

AS FOR “MYSELF”…

“Myself” is one of those words that pops up a lot in daily conversation, and 99 percent of the time, we use it wrong. The only right way to use “myself” is reflexively or ...

WAS/WERE

When to use “was” and “were” is usually pretty easy. If the subject is singular, use the singular verb “was.” Example: “The tape was in the editing booth.” If the subject is plural, use ...

MRS. B. IS HOPEFUL

“Hopefully” is widely used to mean “I hope” or “we hope,” or “it is hoped.” That’s not only wrong, it’s silly! And you’ll probably hear it at least once, if not several times, today. ...

JUST BETWEEN US GRAMMARIANS

Mrs. B knows you hear it in songs and on soaps, even occasionally from the hallowed mouth of a network correspondent, but “between you and I” is WRONG. “Between” is a preposition. It takes ...

MALAPROPS AMONG US

We continue today with our lesson on malapropisms: words we often confuse because they sound alike. “evoke” and “provoke” “Evoke means to bring to mind. >The sight of the bowling alley EVOKED memories of ...

PROPS TO MALAPROPS Pt. 2

If you’ve ever used the wrong word, one that sounded like another, you’ve probably used a malapropism. Mrs. B invites you to join the club. “incredible” and “incredulous” “Incredible” means hard to believe. >The ...

GIVING PROPS TO MALAPROPS

Malapropisms are words that sound kind of like the correct ones but are just wrong enough to sound ludicrous. Here are some common ones. “Solicit” and “Elicit” “Solicit” means to ask for something, like ...

A RECURRING UPDATE

A recurring mistake begins today’s lesson. The other day we heard a radio announcer say “re-occurring,”  as in “I have a re-occurring dream in which I’m being chased.” It’s RECURRING, not “re-occurring.” And it’s ...

THE RIGHT WORD

Mrs. B recently heard an anchor talk about a suspect being extradited “back” to Central Florida. “Extradite” means to return to a jurisdiction, so the “back” isn’t needed. >The teacher will be EXTRADITED to ...

O, THE IRONY!

“Irony” and “ironic” are a couple of words we occasionally use in copy. But are we using them correctly? We heard of a local reporter who used the word “irony” to describe the situation ...

APROPOS OR APPROPRIATE?

A former producer wrote to Mrs. B about “apropos/appropriate.” It might be helpful to you. One of her company’s partners said: “We’ll decide which one is more apropos.” Sounds kind of right, doesn’t it? ...

“MAINIACS?” SURE, WHY NOT?

Mrs. B has noticed in her travels that anchors and reporters are having some trouble with how they talk about people from various states. Here’s a rundown courtesy of the U.S. Government Printing Office ...

A TALE TOLD BY AN IDIOM

Idioms are bound to pop out of your mouth on a regular basis, but let’s be sure that what pops out is standard. Heres a list to keep handy: abide BY (a decision) agree ...

EVERYDAY WORDS USED EVERY DAY

We trip up on every day and everyday because we get careless. If you stop to think about it, you won’t confuse the two anymore. Everyday means ordinary or commonplace or what’s appropriate for ...

PUNDITRY IN OUR TIME

Pundit is one of those words we get from India, like bungalow and thug. It comes from “pandit,” meaning scholar or wise teacher. The first premier of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, was often referred to ...

SOUNDALIKES, BUT DIFFERENT

Let’s spend our time together today looking at some words that sound alike but have different meanings. Apprise means to inform. For example: ~The EP plans to apprise interns of the requirement to attribute. ...

ME, MYSELF AND I

“Myself” is one of those words that pop up a lot in conversation. Most of the time we use it incorrectly. We get paranoid about using “me.” So we make this mistake: Give David ...

HOW TO SAY IT – THE FINAL

Don’t forget the “brew” in the second syllable of February: FE-brew-ary, not FEB-you-ary. The national anthem includes a couple of words that are often mispronounced. Perilous is PER-uh-lus, not PER-uh-lis. Rockets is ROK-its, not ...

HOW TO SAY IT

Mrs. B hopes you’ll pay close attention to your pronunciation of these words. mastectomy: muh-STEK-tuh-mee, not muh-SEK-tuh-mee (Don’t leave out the first “t.”) preventive: pre-VEN-tive, not pre-VEN-ta-tive (“Preventative” is a corrupt form of preventive.) ...

THIS IS HOW YOU SAY IT PART 3

Mrs. B continues the series on some of the most common mispronunciations. jewelry: JEW-el-ry, not JEW-el-er-y (It has just three syllables not four.) library: LI-brar-ee, not LI-berry (Pronounce that “r” before the “a.”) miniature: ...

HERE’S HOW YOU SAY IT

Let’s get started on another list of often-mispronounced words. dilate: DIE-LATE, not DIE-uh-LATE (It’s a two-syllable word.) drowned: DROWND, not DROWNDED (It’s a one-syllable word.) foliage: FO-lee-udge, not FO-ludge (There are three syllables.) Halloween: ...

THAT’S NOT HOW YOU SAY IT

Mrs. B wants to spend her time with you for the next few lessons on mispronunciations she wants you not to make. The word mispronunciation does not have “pronounce” in it, so please pronounce ...

THE WRONG WORD WON’T DO

Don’t you hate it when you use the wrong word or expression and don’t realize it until you see it in print later? Mrs. B hopes this lesson will save you some embarrassment like ...

“THEN” OR “THAN?”

Mrs. B has noticed some confusion with “then” and “than.” Then is an adverb. It means “at that time” or “next.” Than is a conjunction used to introduce the second element of a comparison. ...

WHEN TWO WORDS COLLIDE

Mrs. B wants you to remember that only two objects in motion can collide. Neither the utility pole nor the tree was moving in this example: ~The bus was southbound on Talley Road when ...

MRS. B’S BULLY PULPIT

Let’s look at two expressions that have the same root word but have different meanings: bullying and bully pulpit. Bullying is treating someone in an intimidating manner and even being cruel. Bully pulpit is ...

WHAT COULD BE WORSE?

“Worser” is one of those words Mrs. B hopes will never come from your mouth or from your keyboard, unless it’s someone’s family name. Worse and worst are the comparative and superlative forms of ...

A HISTORIC COLUMN

A historic is a combination of words Mrs. B rejoices over. Take this example: A historic World War II boat that survived dozens of operations — and a few near-misses — on the other ...

MERV KNOWS…

In newswriting you’re always better off using short words in short sentences. It’s the most effective way to tell a story. Newswriting coach Merv Block suggested these additions to Mrs. B’s “communicate simply” series: ...

KEEPING IT SIMPLE

Mrs. B likes what Mark Twain said about his mother: “She never used large words, but she had a natural gift for making small ones do effective work.” Here’s a list of suggestions to ...

KEEP IT SIMPLE

Instead of wordy phrases, Mrs. B hopes you’ll start simplifying. Try these on: Instead of “as a means to,” say to. Instead of “by means of,” say by or with. Instead of “due to ...

SKIP THE 25-CENT WORDS

Using 25-cent words doesn’t necessarily make you sound smarter. Usually the most effective language is the simplest. Mrs. B could “initiate” her lesson with these suggestions, or she could simply begin it: Instead of ...

KEEP IT SIMPLE

“Utilize” is a useless word for people who are trying to show off. It means the same thing as use. Most of the time Mrs. B prefers short words to long ones. And your ...

MRS. B vs. VERSUS

“Versus” is a preposition that means “against” in sports. In other contexts it means “as opposed to” or “in contrast to.” Notice there is only one “e” in “versus.” And “vs.” is the abbreviation ...

TO EACH HIS OWN

Each is always singular when it is the subject or comes before the subject it modifies. And these pronouns follow the same rule: every either neither one another much ~Each knows exactly what to ...

Latin Translations

Some of Mrs. B's readers have asked about a Latin term you’ll see every now and then:  What does [sic] mean? The Latin adverb sic is part of the phrase sic erat scriptum, which ...

Trooper, Trouper

Mrs. B is in a tiz today about "trooper" and "trouper." She keeps reading one when it should be the other. A "trooper" is a state police officer who pulls you over when you're ...

**migrants, refugees*

The terms "migrant" and "refugee" are sometimes used interchangeably, but there's a crucial legal difference between the two. Migrants leave home voluntarily to try to make their lives better with a new job or ...

9 THINGS TO KNOW FOR THANKSGIVING

Mrs. B hopes if you're responsible for news graphics or web stories that you'll capitalize both Thanksgiving and Day. Here are nine things historians say are true about Thanksgiving 1. The first Thanksgiving was ...

Some counseling on councils

Mrs. B wonders if you've noticed the words "council" and "counsel" misused. A “council” is a group of people appointed or elected to serve in a deliberative, administrative, or legislative capacity. ~City council is ...

MRS. B BEHIND BARS

Mrs. B's inspiration for today's lesson is this email: All too often I hear reporters use the terms "jail" and "prison" as if they are interchangeable. To the best of my knowledge, they are ...

Mrs.B-Archive-11-02-2017

No one will ever know you dont the difference between ?there,? ?theyre,? and ?their,? until the slip-up appears on a graphic or in your web story. And then, believe Mrs. B, youll hear about ...

Mrs.B-Archive-10-31-2017

When to use ?lie? and ?lay? is one of the most challenging lessons in grammar. And even the best writers have trouble with it. Take a look at this sentence: ?Lie? is the verb ...

Mrs.B-Archive-10-26-2017

Sometimes people get "conscience" and "conscious" mixed up. Just in case you have ever been one of those people, or might be one of those people, please pay attention. Conscience is your sense of ...

Mrs.B-Archive-10-24-2017

?Continuously? means uninterrupted. ?Continually,? on the other hand, means frequently repeated. When Mrs. B hears "Well have continuous coverage of this story," she has to stifle a giggle. And you might hear this on ...

Mrs.B-Archive-10-19-2017

With tornadoes, fires, earthquakes, and flooding comes damage. Mrs. B wants you to be clear that the noun "damage" is not the same as the noun "damages." "Damages" is a legal term. Damages are ...

Mrs.B-Archive-10-17-2017

Today Mrs. B wants you to look at three sets of words that sometimes cause some stumbling. ?Incredible? means hard to believe. Heres an example in a tease: ~AT 11:00, the incredible LEGO animal ...

Mrs.B-Archive-10-12-2017

?Politics? is one of those words that can be either singular or plural, depending on the meaning you give it. When it refers to a set of political stands, it takes a plural verb. ...

Mrs.B-Archive-10-10-2017

?Ring?, ?rang,? ?rung.? Those are the principal parts of the verb ?ring,? as in: ~ I ring the bell.  (present tense) ~She rang the bell. (past tense) ~We have rung the bell. (past participle) ...

Mrs.B-Archive-10-05-2017

One of our Minnesota newsies asks Mrs. B how to form the possessive case of names that end in "s." Add an apostrophe plus an "s." Take the name James, for example. ~Jamess brother ...

Mrs.B-Archive-10-03-2017

Today Mrs. B wants you to look at plural possessives. This sentence works well to help explain the rule: ~The Supreme Court agreed with a federal courts decision to throw out Californias ban on ...

Mrs.B-Archive-09-28-2017

Mrs. B reminds you of how easy it is to mix up these two little words: ?its? and ?its.? ?Its? is the possessive form of ?it.? Usually an apostrophe signals possession, but not for ...

Mrs.B-Archive-09-26-2017

When Mrs. B heard this, she dropped her jaw, picked it up, and ran to the keyboard: Mark and Is series will begin tomorrow. ?Is? is not an acceptable substitute for "my." ~Marks and ...

Mrs.B-Archive-09-21-2017

A "wound" is usually thought of as an injury in which the skin is torn, pierced, or cut. For example: ~The dog bite left the child with a wound that will take a while ...

Mrs.B-Archive-09-19-2017

Mrs. B has noticed confusion over "precedents" and "precedence." Lets begin, though, with the singular of "precedents." A precedent is an act that sanctions later similar acts. ~Reporters and photographers set a precedent when ...

Mrs.B-Archive-09-14-2017

One of Mrs. Bs readers in South Florida suggested this lesson. ?All right? is always two words. (Delete "alright" from your sweet brain, please.) But take a look at these "a"-words that work both ...

Mrs.B-Archive-09-12-2017

Mrs. B has noticed that some of you use "to" following "between" in a phrase having to do with a range of numbers. For example: The storm surge could be between six to 12 ...

Mrs.B-Archive-09-07-2017

A message from one of Mrs. Bs friends in Albuquerque addresses a subject you may have wondered about, too: Are the words "deadly" and "fatal" interchangeable? I recall reading somewhere that theres a subtle ...

Mrs.B-Archive-09-05-2017

Voil?! is a French interjection used to call attention to something. Pronounce it vwah-LAH. Thats a "v" sound before the "w" sound. And the emphasis is on the second syllable. Please do not say ...

Mrs.B-Archive-08-31-2017

Lets review some terms we use in covering the legal system. Only police can book a suspect. Its then up to the district attorneys office to file a charge. Just because a person is ...

Mrs.B-Archive-08-29-2017

Mrs. B wants you to look at two expressions that sound alike but have different meanings: "jury-rigged" and "jerrybuilt." Something rigged up temporarily, and often ingeniously, is jury-rigged. For example: ~Thanks to duct tape ...

Mrs.B-Archive-08-24-2017

When Mrs. B read this, she sprang into action with a lesson on "nauseous" and "nauseated": Monitor your symptoms: If you feel dizzy, nauseous, have a headache,  or muscle cramps, find a cooler location ...

Mrs.B-Archive-08-22-2017

You may have wondered why Zika virus is capitalized. Its name comes from the Zika Forest of Uganda, where the virus was first isolated in 1947. West Nile is a region in Uganda, and ...

Mrs.B-Archive-08-17-2017

Mrs. B knows you hear it a lot, and maybe have even said it or written it, but "convicted felon" is redundant. A felon is someone who has been convicted of a felony. Lets ...

Mrs.B-Archive-08-15-2017

Mrs. B has heard this kind of construction a few times lately: I wish I would have done more research before I went out on that story. If she would have asked me, I ...

Mrs.B-Archive-08-10-2017

Mrs. B is about to literally explode with joy! Literally? Really? That would be a mess. The truth is Mrs. B is figuratively (symbolically) about to explode with joy, or just plain "about to ...

Mrs.B-Archive-08-08-2017

"Fewer" refers to the number of something and is used with plural nouns. Heres a headline example:                    2017 Sees Fewer Speeding Tickets In High Enforcement "Less" refers to degree or amount and is ...

Mrs.B-Archive-08-03-2017

"Hanged" is the word to use when youre talking about suicides or executions. So lets correct this headline: Man killed woman and grandson, hung himself The corrected headline is: ~ Man killed woman and ...

Mrs.B-Archive-08-01-2017

Mrs. B knows you have important places to go and important people to see, but please take a minute to check your pronunciation of these words. Candidate: Pronounce it CAN-di-date or CAN-di-dit. Either one ...

Mrs.B-Archive-07-27-2017

Do you remember what an irregular verb is? That means it doesnt form its past tense by adding -ed. "Shake" is an irregular verb. The past tense is "shook," as in: ~One of our ...

Mrs.B-Archive-07-25-2017

It was in July of 1965 that, under the leadership of President Johnson, Congress created Medicare under Title XVIII of the Social Security Act. The term Social Security is easy to get sloppy with. ...

Mrs.B-Archive-07-20-2017

"Whos" is a contraction of the pronoun "who" and the verb "is," as in: ~Whos going to do the headlines from the newsroom? ~Weve been wondering whos the next guest. "Whose," on the other ...

Mrs.B-Archive-07-18-2017

Surplusage. Mrs. B gets all tingly-toed saying that word. Its one newswriting coach Merv Block introduced to her. Surplusage means excess, more than needed. "Sworn affidavit" is an example of surplusage. An affidavit is ...

Mrs.B-Archive-07-13-2017

If you feel badly, that means your sense of touch isnt working so well. You would have a hard time learning to read braille. "Badly" is an adverb. Its used with an action verb. ...

Mrs.B-Archive-07-11-2017

If Mrs. B hadnt checked under the hood, she might have driven off with the kitten nestled on the engine. See how that sentence was constructed? Heres another. ~If Norm hadnt checked inside the ...

Mrs.B-Archive-07-06-2017

Mrs. B wants to go over a common usage mistake, or maybe its just a spelling issue. One of the meanings of lose is to fail to win. Its pronounced LOOZ. ~With that lead-in, ...

Mrs.B-Archive-07-05-2017

Mrs. B begins todays lesson with a pronunciation quiz. Please read the following aloud:   ~The burglars found the cache, grabbed the jewelry, and escaped. Police say the homeowners made themselves vulnerable by leaving ...

Mrs.B-Archive-06-29-2017

Just one letter can make such a difference in the meaning of a word. Mrs. B wants you to look at some nouns today. A "miner" works in a mine. A "minor" is younger ...

Mrs.B-Archive-06-27-2017

"None is" used to be standard. Most grammar gurus now say that "none" can be either singular or plural, depending on the meaning you intend. If youre pointing out, emphatically, "not a single one," ...

Mrs.B-Archive-06-22-2017

A Chattanooga anchor writes: Were having a discussion in our newsroom about causes of death. Which of the following is correct? (1) He died from two gunshot wounds to the head. (2) He died ...

Mrs.B-Archive-06-20-2017

If youre not sure when to use "into" and "in to," then this lesson is for you. "Into" can indicate direction or motion. ~Put the camera into the right side of the cabinet. "Into" ...

Mrs.B-Archive-06-15-2017

MRS. Bs GRAMMAR YAMMER "A PBS mind in a Twitter world." When to use foot and feet … thats the quandary of an Indianapolis sportscaster. And that makes a worthy subject for Mrs. Bs ...

Mrs.B-Archive-06-13-2017

MRS. Bs GRAMMAR YAMMER "A PBS mind in a Twitter world." Homonyms are words that have the same spelling and the same pronunciation but have different meanings. Bear is one of them. The verb ...

Mrs.B-Archive-06-08-2017

MRS. Bs GRAMMAR YAMMER "A PBS mind in a Twitter world." Former and formal dont sound that much alike, but their -ly versions do. Mrs. B wants to be sure you know the difference. ...

Mrs.B-Archive-06-06-2017

You can usually trust your twinges to let you know something is amiss. If youre going to use the word former for a person still living, yes, use it with a present tense verb ...

Mrs.B-Archive-06-05-2017

MRS. Bs GRAMMAR YAMMER "A PBS mind in a Twitter world."   returns tomorrow.     All elements of this web site are protected by U.S. Copyright, Title 17 of the United States Code. ...

Mrs.B-Archive-06-01-2017

MRS. Bs GRAMMAR YAMMER "A PBS mind in a Twitter world." Masterly means being an expert or a master at something. Masterful, on the other hand, means being domineering and pushy. Mrs. B hears ...

Mrs.B-Archive-05-31-2017

Mrs. B?s Grammar Yammer, a NewsBlues staple since the beginning, will continue, albeit twice weekly, on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Look for her tomorrow. Because tomorrow is Thursday.  

Mrs.B-Archive-05-30-2017

MRS. Bs GRAMMAR YAMMER "A PBS mind in a Twitter world." Lets look at a few words that are often mispronounced even by network anchors and reporters. The correct way to pronounce intravenous is ...