Two Pretty-Much Useless Words

rogersgeorge on September 14th, 2017

The words are “within” and “upon.” Both are fancy versions of what they actually mean, namely “in” and “on.” For example:

This line of code can be found within that module.

Instead, how about:

This line of code can be found in that module.

We’ll skip my usual rant about using the passive; isn’t that second example better? It’s more direct, doesn’t call attention to itself.

Okay, it’s been several posts since I posted a comic, so here’s one to illustrate “upon.” My sincere thanks to Zach Weinersmith for his Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal, (for Sept 13, 2017. You’ll have to click back to that date if you’re visiting from some day after the 13th.). It’s one of my favorite comics. They are intellectually sophisticated and funny.

The usage is in the first panel. I admit, in this context, “upon” is probably appropriate, but I think that makes the point. Are you writing an explanation for something, or are you quoting a goat skull?

So here’s the rule:

If “in” or “on” make sense, don’t use “within” or “upon.”

 

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Another grammar comic

rogersgeorge on June 1st, 2012

It never ceases to amaze me how careful comic artists (and writers) are about getting their English correct. (I suppose it shouldn’t amaze me. After all, they are writers too.) Here’s a masterful example of getting it right, in the funny and off-the-wall Ballard Street by Jerry Van Amerongen.

We use “among” to describe being within a group of three or more, and “between” for groups of two. And “within” for groups of one. Seems to me I mentioned the distinction between between and among in an earlier post, but I can’t find it.