Tag Archives: American English

Has Got or Has Gotten?

Do you think that has gotten is outdated, a little strange? Apparently, the Brits do because you very rarely  see it or hear it in Great Britain. But has gotten is alive and thriving in the U.S. because we recognize it does mean something other than has got.

Look at these two sentences:

  1. Amanda has got the required botany book.   
  2. Amanda has gotten the required botany book.

The first sentence tells you Amanda possesses that book; she may have already owned it. It’s the same as saying she has the book.

The second sentence says Amanda has acquired the book; however she got it, she didn’t previously own it.

 

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A Word to the —wise Wise

 

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Speaking of locutions that make me cringe (we were, weren’t we?), the suffix “—wise” is near the top of my list. Limit it to a very few situations:

• Clockwise, counter clockwise

• Otherwise

• Lengthwise

Spare others from uses such as “healthwise,” “timewise,” “costumewise,” “stylewise.”

Instead of saying or writing, “Healthwise, I’ve had some problems with my elbow recently,” just drop that silly introductory word. It adds nothing.  Nor does “costumewise”:  “Costumewise, I’m going as Darth Vader as a schoolboy.” Just describe the getup you are planning on wearing to that Star Wars-themed Halloween party.

And so ends my word(s) to the wise.

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Abbreviations vs. Acronyms

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When people see an abbreviation, many refer to it as an acronym, thinking they mean the same thing. They don’t.

You all know what an abbreviation is.  An acronym is also an abbreviation—but one that is pronounced as a word:

NASA

Snafu ( it lost the caps when it became a common word)

Scuba (ditto)

Fubar (ditto)

MOMA in New York and LACMA in Los Angeles

You’d never say “Oosuh” or “Yoosuh,” so USA is not an acronym, just an abbreviation.

All acronyms are abbreviations, but not all abbreviations are acronyms.

(If you’re not sure what snafu and fubar stand for, look them up in your online dictionary; there you will discover the slightly off-color meanings.)

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Don’t Shun the -sions

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An optical illusion–I see movement and three dimensions. Perhaps I am deluded.

 

Here are a few words that look as if they might be related,  but they have different meanings:

ILLUSION: 1) A false belief or idea. 2) Something that is perceived incorrectly, such as an optical illusion. For example, at times the moon appears to be enormous, but, in fact, it doesn’t change its size. For a multitude of optical illusions, google the art of MC Escher.

ALLUSION: A reference to something without specifically mentioning it. For example, many literary works contain allusions to Shakespeare’s plays.

DELUSION: An idea firmly held but not founded in fact. Paranoid thought can involve many delusions.

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When You Have a Choice of Spellings

The American Heritage Dictionary of the Englis...

The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Whenever words can be spelled more than one way, the preferred spelling is always given first in the dictionary. The same goes for pronunciations.

A friend wrote today about seeing the word “publically.” I have seen it written only as “publicly,” but she said a dictionary gave the “—ally” variant as the second spelling. I consulted my online dictionary, which specifically stated the “—ally” version is not acceptable; the American Heritage Dictionary (my favorite) does not even mention that spelling. Stick with “publicly.”

You realize that countries that are or were part of the British Empire use the”—our” spelling, while we in America prefer “color” and “humor” without the “u.” I can’t say it’s wrong to include it, but if you are a native-born American, you might be considered pretentious if you use the British spelling. The same goes for “judgement”; we leave out that middle “e.”

 

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