The website Grammarly has a list of 10 signs you might be a grammar nerd. My thanks to Brian B., always on the lookout for something up my linguistic alley.
1. You use standard spelling, capitalization, and punctuation when you text.
2. You have appointed yourself as “honorary proofreader” of your friends’ social media posts.
3. You know how and when to use “affect” and “effect.”
4. You feel compelled to correct poorly written public signs. It isn’t vandalism if you’re correcting it, right?
5. The thought of posting a writing error online mortifies you.
6. You have an opinion about the Oxford comma.
7. You follow Grammarly on Facebook and Twitter.
8. You’re a regular contributor to the #grammar hashtag in social media.
9. The sound of a double negative makes you cringe.
10. You mentally edit all the books and magazines you read.
I was listening to an NPR report about the Boston Marathon trial, and the defendant, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, was described as appearing “disinterested.” I would bet my life he looked “uninterested.” Certainly the judge and jurors should be disinterested, but not the defendant.
“Disinterested” means unbiased; how could Tsarnaev possibly be unbiased at his own trial? He might have looked as if he was unbiased, but in no way could that be true.
Of course, in time these two words will become synonymous for “not caring” because that is the way so many people are using them today. Maybe I’m the last holdout. People will no longer use “disinterested” to mean “unbiased” and the latter will be used in its stead. But until next Tuesday, a distinction still exists.
Hardly a day goes by that I do not see these two words used interchangeably. However, they have very different meanings.
DISINTERESTED means unbiased. It does not mean you do not care; you might care very deeply about an issue but are sufficiently open-minded that you will consider other points of view.
UNINTERESTED means you do not care, that you have no interest in a particular situation.
If you were accused of a crime, would you want the judge and jury determining your fate to be disinterested or uninterested? It could make a big difference.
“The pitcher seemed disinterested for the first two innings, but then he came to life and struck out three players in a row.”
That pitcher may have appeared uninterested (meaning he didn’t seem to care, was not interested), but given his enormous salary and perks, it is highly unlikely he was disinterested (meaning unbiased).
A judge and jury should be/must be disinterested in your case, but it would be terrible if they were uninterested.