Of late, the news media has been driving me a bit batty with the various reporters misusing words either in their oral reporting or the blips crossing our screens. Do you, too, have a pet peeve when it comes to the misuse of words?
For example the local FOX news outlet keeps reporting on the AMOUNT of people on the South Carolina beaches now that the COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted. When I was a journalism student (one of my college minors), we were taught that “amount” is an indefinite quantity (water, sand, grass, etc.) that cannot be counted. Whereas, “number” consists of a quantity of people or things that can be counted.
Watching one of the Hallmark movies, Candace Cameron Bure’s character corrects one of the other minor characters who asks Bure if Bure is “anxious” to see her fiancé. Bure explains to the woman that “anxious” indicates concern or worry. “Eager” shows impatient desire.
We often hear stories of where a plane “nearly missed” hitting another plane on the runway. The problem with this phrase is if you “nearly missed” something, you collided with it. The correct phrase is a “near hit,” not a “near miss.”
The other day on the blip running across the bottom of the screen the story was about navel maneuvers off the coast of Florida. “Naval” refers to a navy and military ships. “Navel” refers to the “bellybutton.”
Along the same lines was another story where the newscaster referred to the “ordnance” enacted by the Town Council regarding parking along certain center-city streets. The correct word is “ordinance,” which is a law enacted by a municipal body. “Ordnance” refers to military weapons and ammunition.
Then there was the news article on the premier of a particular movie being delayed. “Premier” means first in rank or leader. “Premiere” means first performance.
One of the stories spoke of “prostrate cancer” in men. “Prostate” is the correct word in this context. “Prostate” refers to the prostate gland, part of the male reproductive system. “Prostrate” refers to lying down on the ground or on some other surface or to make helpless.
One of the stories dealt with those going out before the “stay at home orders” were lifted. It said, “The teens said they would play basketball in the park irregardless of the danger of contacting the Covid-19 virus.” Irregardless is not considered standard English, regardless of how many times you hear or see it used.
Many people confuse sometime and some time. Sometime (one word) means some unspecified time. Some time (2 words) means an unspecified quantity of time.
Likewise, maybe (one word) is an adverb meaning perhaps. May be (2 words) is a verb meaning perhaps.
Everyday is a single word adjective used to refer to days in general, without emphasizing any specific day. Every day used as two words emphasizes the individual day. [Hint! If you can substitute “each” for “every,” use “every day” as two words.]
Everyone refers to several or more people, but not to any one of them in particular. Every one is used when referring to an individual.
Everybody is used to make reference to several of many people. Every body references a specific body, such as a corpse, body of water, a corporation, etc.
Anyone refers to a group, but not to any specific person. Any one refers to an individual.
Any time is used exclusively as two words, not anytime. Also, alright is not standard English. Use all right.
Anyway means in any case or regardless. Any way means a method, choice, or direction. Anyways is not standard English and should not be used.
Use between when two people, places, or things are involved. Use among for three or more.
I see this mistake all the time in romance novels. “They fell in love with one another at first sight.” Each other is used when two people, places, or things are involved. One another refers to three or more. Unless the author is writing about a “threesome,” the correct choice is “each other.”