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All the English You Will Ever Need

 

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The English language is constantly evolving, both the words we use and the rules that control the usage of those words.  Therefore, it is impossible to ever have a definitive grammar guide, or, if you will, a Complete Guide of American English.  And that’s our excuse.

 

 

Word of the Every So Often

December 9, 2019

torpor:  (noun)  inactivity; languor; lethargy; general laziness.  Call it torpor if you like, but I know laziness when I see it.  Now get out and get a job!

 

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Friday, December 6, 2019

OMG!

Oh my God! Oh my gosh! Oh my goodness! Oh my word! Oh my anything! Enough already! It's gotten to the point where nobody can express wonderment about anything, no matter how unastonishing it may actually be, without invoking the name of God. They've done it so much that they've shortened it to OMG! If using the Lord's name in vain is a hell-worthy offense, there must be a special room set aside just for people who actually say, "OMG!" It's right next to the room for those people who have to pause between each word: "Oh! My! God!" To realize just how much of a cliché this phrase has become, even people who are avowed atheists find themselves saying it. In the name of God (no kidding), stop!

Think about it, folks. Are you really so stupefied by a remodeled bathroom that all you can think to say is, "Oh my God!"? Do you think God really needs to check out your bathroom? He's seen it! That's what it means to be omniscient. Put some thought into this, people. God made the Grand Canyon. He made Mount Everest. He made kittens and rainbows and sunsets and smiling babies, for crying out loud. Do you think he's going to be impressed in the least by your new countertops? Not likely.

However, we here at HGP know how hard it is to think originally. Mary Ann Joblonski hasn't had an original idea since junior high, and even that wasn't much. But even she agrees that invoking the name of God for everything has got to stop. And the only way we're ever going to do that is by offering you something else to say instead, because obviously you can't come up with anything on your own. So as a public service we offer the following. Credit has been given where credit is due.

 

First, for those of you who have to say "Oh!" and then something else:

Odin! (for those of you interested in economy - you get "Oh" and a god all in one word)
Oh, baby! (my old neighbor where we used to live where the walls were embarrassingly thin)
Oh, behave! (Austin Powers)
Oh, bother. (Winnie the Pooh)
Oh good grief. (Charley Brown)
Oh, James! (Octopussy)
Oh my gods! (Apu Nahasapeemapetilon)
Oh my nothing! (for those atheists who have been left out all this time)
Oh, say can you see? (Francis Scott Key)
Oh your god. (Bender)
Oklahoma! (Rogers and Hammerstein)
Only the Lonely. (Roy Orbison)
Oprah Winfrey!
Oye!

 

For those of you who need to profess whatever to the deity of your choice:

Jesus, Joseph, and Mary! (Benny the Cab)
¡Díos mio!
Mein Gott!
Mon dieu!
Saints be praised! (Galahad)
Zeus Almighty!

 

And now for some all-time favourites:

Cowabunga! (Bart Simpson)
Dip me in shellac and buff me to a high gloss. (Earl Eldridge)
Dude! (Jeffrey Lebowski)
Fry me in frog frap.
Good gravy train!
Golly, Wally! (Theodore Cleaver)
Great balls of fire! (Jerry Lee Lewis)
Great Caesar's ghost! (Perry White)
Great gobs of geese! (Albert Alligator)
Great googly moogly! (St. Louis Jimmy Oden)
Great Scott! (Emmett Brown)
High Holy Days!
Hokey Smokes! (Rocket J. Squirrel)
Holy Moly! (Billy Baston, aka Captain Marvel, aka Shazam!)
Holy Mother of Pearl (Taggart)
Holy Schnikes (Tommy Boy)
Holy Toledo! (Petey Burch)
Holy Underwear
Lawzem Cain! (The Indian Chief in Blazing Saddles)
Leapin' lizards! (Little Orphan Annie)
Leaping lungfish.
Mony Mony (Tommy James and the Shondells)
My Gooshe! (Aunt Opel)
Well raise my rent. (Sheriff Bart)
Zowie! (Robin)

 

8:41 am pst 

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

The Difference Between Past Perfect and Simple Past

The simple past is used to indicate actions that happened or existed before now without implying anything else.  The past perfect is created by adding "-ed" to a regular verb, or using the simple past tense of an irregular verb.  Irregular verbs are those verbs that don't use "-ed" for the past tense.  Irregular verbs are generally the more commonly used verbs, such as "to see" (saw), to eat (ate), and "to sleep" (slept). 

For instance:

Larry found a dollar.

My cat waited by the tree.

"Found" is the simple past tense of the irregular verb "to find."  There, all that is being said is that Larry found a dollar.  It is not implying where he was when he found that dollar, what he did with that dollar, or anything else. 

"Waited" is the simple past tense of the regular verb "to wait."  Once again, nothing is being implied.  All we know is that the cat was waiting by the tree.  What she was waiting for, how long she had been waiting, or anything else is not implied in that simple statement.

 

For a tense to be "perfect," it needs to use a helping verb, either "to have" or "to be."  For instance:  I had waited for an hour.  Or:  I was seen at the store.  For it to be past perfect, that helping verb needs to be in the past tense, either "had" or "was" or "were."

The past perfect tense is used to indicate an action that happened in the past before something else that also happened in the past.  As such, the past perfect is usually followed by qualifying adverbs such as "but," "before," and "when," which are then followed by a verb in the simple past tense.  For instance:

Bob had studied French for four years before he realized nobody could understand anything he was saying.

Larry had returned home when he discovered his cat was missing.

Larry's cat had left, but then she came back home.

Note that even if one of those adverbs is not present, by using the past perfect it is still implied.  For instance, if I say, "I had seen that movie," I am still implying that something else happened after I saw that movie.

In summary, you use the simple past tense when you are indicating actions that happened in the past and you are not implying anything else that might've also happened.  You use the perfect past tense when you are indicating actions that happened in the past and you are implying (or outright stating) something else that also happened in the past.

10:43 am pst 

Thursday, November 21, 2019

It's Found in Jellyfish, You Know...

Here at HGP, we love listening to the wording in commercials, such as the one currently running for a supplement that is supposed to help improve your memory.  Never mind that supplements are supplements because they don't have any real proof they do anything at all.  If that proof were there, then they would call it a medicine.

In this particular commercial they make the comment that the supplement is "shown to improve" memory.  Here's the thing:  "Shown to improve" means nothing.  If it really did improve your memory, then they could say that:  It does improve your memory.  It all comes down to the word "shown."  Shown... by whom?  "Well... you see... we gave it to a bunch of people.  It wasn't a real study or anything.  There were no controls or stuff like that.   But when we asked them if they thought their memory was better, they said it might be.  Well... those who remembered they had taken it.  So, yeah.  That shows something... doesn't it?"

But wait!  Maybe it's really does work!  After all, it is recommended by pharmacists... not that being recommended by pharmacists means a whole lot.  "You do know these memory supplements don't do anything... right?  But if you want my recommendation of which one to take, this one seems as good as any of them.  It's cheaper, and it hasn't killed anybody yet."

So... yeah.  What were we talking about?

8:48 am pst 

Shocking!

Here at HGP we've seen an uptick in the use of the phrase "shocking," as in, "It's shocking how many people are using the phrase 'shocking.'"  I suppose that's to be expected.  When people hear a catchy word or phrase, especially when it's used by the media, they tend to repeat it.  And repeat it.  And repeat it.  Here's the thing:  When words are overused, they come to mean nothing.  For instance, if we use "shocking" for things that truly are not shocking, such as an increase in the cost of lettuce or getting a bad grade on an exam or the overuse of a phrase, then when we use it on something that truly is shocking, like a nun going on a killing spree or child pornography... it doesn't really seem that bad.  So once again, here at the Incomplete Guide, we offer the following synonyms for "shocking."  Mix them up.  Or, better, use only one for everything, and see if you can start a national craze, too!

appalling, scandalous, outrageous, awful, dreadful, horrendous, inexcusable, shameful, disgraceful, immoral, offensive, contemptable, terrible, unpleasant, horrible, alarming, frightful, atrocious, unbearable, reprehensible, intolerable, despicable, and disreputable.

8:46 am pst 

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

I Was Thinking In My Head...

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Here at the Incomplete Guide, we couldn't decide whether this one should go under Things That Make No Sense, or Clichés.  It could even be Redundant.  A lot of people say it (McTibbet only knows why), which could possibly make it a cliché.  But then, it seems to be stating the obvious, which could make it redundant.  But it really makes no sense at all, no matter how you look at it.  After all, what other choice do you have?  Unless you're a stegosaurus, the only place you can think is in your head. 

4:08 pm pst 

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