Friday, March 18, 2011

All together now

I don't get too exercised about spelling mistakes and the like. I correct them in students' papers, but I don't let them bother me too much. I certainly know better than to ascribe them to pure laziness or other moral failings.

Unless.

Unless they turn the word you meant into a totally different word, and one that means something you didn't mean. And one that can fit, syntactically, where you put it.

Which is why there are indeed some words you need to buckle down on and memorize. "Affect" and "effect" as verbs, for instance.

Or this one I spotted in the Post today:
if we lost it all together

"If we lost it all together" means "If all of us, together, lost it". "If we lost it altogether" means "If we lost it in its entirety".

Of course, this particular one is decipherable (most are, that's not the point). The "all" and "together" wouldn't usually be where they are (you'd be more likely to say "If we all lost it together"), but this is something that needs to be reread to make it clear what it was meant to be. And as a writer, you don't want that.

ps - Altogether, already, alone ... why not alright?

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1 Comments:

At 7:31 AM, March 23, 2011 Anonymous Stan had this to say...

Why not alright? I've wondered about this. It seems to be one of those "just because" examples, with little if any justification for condemning it.

 

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