Sunday, September 16, 2012


by Donna K. Weaver

Why is English so hard?
  1. The farm was used to produce produce.
  2. The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.
  3. We must polish the Polish furniture.
  4. He could lead if he would get the lead out.
  5. The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.
  6. Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.
  7. A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.
  8. When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.
  9. I did not object to the object.
  10. The insurance was invalid for the invalid.
  11. There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.
  12. They were too close to the door to close it.
  13. The buck does funny things when the does are present.
  14. A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line. 

Tip for the day (from Gregg Reference Manual aka Grammar Bible):

In general, do not use a hyphen to set off a prefix at the beginning of a word or a suffix at the end of a word (exceptions ex- and -elect.)

Modern example: multi-purpose is now multipurpose
Be wary of spell checkers that may urge you to insert hyphens after the prefixes. 

Prefixes and suffixes are pretty cool actually. They should make you feel powerful because you can create a word. And speaking of the word create, it's a perfect transition to another exception to the above rule. Let's say you create a work of art (something written, of course!), but your house burned down, destroying your masterpiece. Now you have to recreate it.

Oh, but wait. Isn't there already a word "recreate"?


By using that word, suddenly your reader has to stop and think about usage (a bit like the list of words at the beginning of this post). So this is an exception for hyphenating prefixes. If there's already a word of your new creation, you need to use a hyphen for clarification. So it would be re-create.


Melissa Sugar said...

I love number five. When I was a kid I had more trouble with those three words than any others. They were all hilarious.

C. LaRene Hall said...

I loved your grammer post.