The big guy with the ruler

rogersgeorge on June 25th, 2009

Principal—the main thing. Often used of the owners of a company, or the chief administrator of a school, but it can apply to inanimate things, too. The principal reason we took a break was that we were tired.

Principle—a rule. Note that “rule” and “principle” both end in “-le.” He tells the truth as a matter of principle.

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Big or Bad?

rogersgeorge on June 23rd, 2009

Enormous—very big. Compared to a flea, an elephant is enormous.

Enormity—very bad, especially in violation of morals. The enormity of child abuse is comparable to the enormity of spousal abuse.

Don’t use “enormity” when you are talking about size! “Enormity” is a noun, “enormous” is an adjective. If you need a fancy noun for “enormous,” use “immensity.” (If you need a fancy adjective for “enormity,” use “egregious.”)

Interesting! Interested?

rogersgeorge on June 20th, 2009

A lot of people get these wrong. Be sure you say what you mean.

Uninterested—you don’t care. I’m uninterested in your tale of woe.

Disinterested—you don’t have a stake in the outcome. We need a disinterested person to decide our dispute.

(Dichotomy—a thing with two clearly different parts. Take it or leave it. )

There there there, now, it’s all right

rogersgeorge on June 19th, 2009

In response to my tweet:
There—a place. Put the book over there.
Their—someone’s. Their book is over there.
They’re—contraction of “they are.” They’re telling me that their book is over there.

If you have trouble remembering which is which, jot down that last sentence and post it where you can see it when you write.