Just a few moments ago I used the phrase “Katy bar the door” in a tweet to a colleague, and no sooner had I sent it than I said to myself, “Now where did that come from?”
Not as in “Why did I say that?” I knew why I said it. It was appropriate for the moment, topic, and audience (REGISTER!), and it provided the touch of levity I was after in the context of the brief conversation. It’s a phrase I’ve known since I was a child.
No, I wanted to know where it came from. Its origin. And for that kind of question, my favorite website, hands down, is Phrase Finder.
I’m not going to bore you with the origin of the phrase I used (even though Dante Rosetti plays a part, as do a poem from James Whitcomb Riley and a Scottish folk song). It’s easy enough for you, if you really want to know, to click that link and find out for yourself.
Just don’t blame me when you look at the time and realize you forgot to feed yourself, your dog, the hamster …
Here’s a link to the ACES chat I was asked to lead this past week.
Here’s another one to a post about register from a couple of years ago, for further reading.
And another one, very short, with a different angle on register.
You want more? Google is your friend. That’s how I do it.
“He began to walk across the room.”
“She started to answer.”
Why do I need to know this? Why can’t it just say “He walked” and “She answered”?
This is one of the most common issues I see in my fiction editing work. Characters are forever starting and beginning things they could, quite honestly, just do. So, when does beginning matter? Continue reading “When beginning matters”
… is not to leave a comment asking them to help you with your book.
That’s a short path to the trash bin, seriously. Continue reading “The best way to contact an editor …”
I’m sure plenty of you completed that first word as “fucking,” because verbals are beastly things that confuse students (and teachers!) everywhere. I wouldn’t disagree with you, if you did. Onward, shall we? Continue reading “-Ing verbals”
(I’ll admit it’s not a rule so much as a test, but I couldn’t pass up that opportunity. Live with it.)
First, an apology to all my readers for not having written about this here on the blog before today. I know I’ve discussed it elsewhere on the ‘net, but an omission of this magnitude could not go unaddressed any longer. Continue reading “Passive voice: the good zombie rule”
This post isn’t about song lyrics. It’s not about pronunciation in regular speech, either. It’s about word placement.
When you use the conjunction “either” or its negative form “neither,” you need to be aware of what you’re comparing. Placing the word correctly is vital, or you end up with an illogical construction. Consider this:
“He was either too tall or those trousers were too short.” Continue reading “Ee-ther, eye-ther …”