Getting Figuratively Literally Correct

rogersgeorge on August 30th, 2017

Here’s the comic, Dustin:

Dustin - 08/29/2017

So. A little reminder: Literally means it actually happened; figuratively means it didn’t actually happen, just something like it happened. In informal speech we tend to use “literally” as a way to emphasize what we’re saying. That’s okay, but when you’re writing to explain something, use the correct word.

I suppose in that last panel she could have said, “You both are literally annoying me.”

I must add that I could have left “literally” out of the title of this post, and the title would still be literally correct, and I could have put an “and” between the words and it would also be literally correct. And maybe easier to read, even.

And so we come to the hidden lesson here: if something is so, it is also literally so. Hence the word “literally” is often unnecessary, especially in expository writing.

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Good Grammar, Bad Driving

rogersgeorge on February 12th, 2017

Mom’s bad driving and correcting of peoples’ grammar are running jokes in JumpStart.

Okay, I’ve never heard the thing/think mistake myself, but it must happen or Robb Armstrong wouldn’t have made the joke. She’s correct, though. The other joke in the strip is that he’s not exaggerating; he does mean “literally,” not “figuratively.”

And to add my own note of grammatical pedantry, when you exaggerate, you’re speaking hyperbolically.

Grammarian’s doomsday–figuratively, of course

rogersgeorge on January 12th, 2014

I mentioned a relative of this error recently, but when I ran into this  comic, I figured I’d give you a choice of how to demonstrate your curmudgeonliness—if you care about this point of grammar, of course.

Non Sequitur

Wiley Miller, November 25, 2013. The comic is called Non Sequitur.

Literally virtual

rogersgeorge on December 26th, 2013

Literally and virtually (and their cousins literal and virtual) are favorites of people who like to correct others’ English, and favorites of people who like to get their English right. A lot of people get them wrong, and we understand what they are saying, so I suppose it’s a losing battle to get people into the habit of using literally and virtually correctly. However, when you write something, especially when you’re explaining something, exercise care to get these two words right.

I don’t need to define them, do I? (okay—literal means real, virtual means not real.) The informal (and incorrect) way to use these words, especially literally, is as a general intensifier, rather like extremely and very. Try to be specific or precise instead of general. Your language will be more vivid.

By the way, virtual reality is an oxymoron, but it’s literally correct.

I guess the wizard in the Wizard of Id is like me, only he can do more about it than I can:

Myself, I’d have had the king say “He hates it when people use that word figuratively.” And speaking of being specific, that’s a wood clamp, not a vice.