Common Errors in English

Wednesday, 8 August 2007, 0:45 | Category : Uncategorized
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Sometimes I think my blog is just turning into a whole collection of sites that I find to be interesting, entertaining, or flat out good ways to spend my time. This moment is no exception, as I proudly present Common Errors in English.

Not only does this give you the correct way to use words like to/too/two, but can also give you the history and background (as well as correct usage, of course) of common phrases.

Some examples:
Begs the Question
An argument that improperly assumes as true the very point the speaker is trying to argue for is said in formal logic to “beg the question.” Here is an example of a question-begging argument: “This painting is trash because it is obviously worthless.” The speaker is simply asserting the worthlessness of the work, not presenting any evidence to demonstrate that this is in fact the case. Since we never use “begs” with this odd meaning (“to improperly take for granted”) in any other phrase, many people mistakenly suppose the phrase implies something quite different: that the argument demands that a question about it be asked—raises the question. If you’re not comfortable with formal terms of logic, it’s best to stay away from this phrase, or risk embarrassing yourself.
Please RSVP
R.S.V.P. stands for the French phrase Répondez s’il vous plaît (“reply, please”), so it doesn’t need an added “please.” However, since few people seem to know its literal meaning, and fewer still take it seriously, it’s best to use plain English: “Please reply.” It is a mistake to think that this phrase invites people to respond only if they are planning to attend; it is at least as important to notify the person doing the inviting if you cannot go. And no, you can’t bring along the kids or other uninvited guests.

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