P’s and Q’s

The Q-problems first. Just some tips.

It’s quandary not quandry.
It’s quadriplegic not quadraplegic.
It’s quadruped not quadriped.

And there are many P problems.

A Pyrrhic victory is not an empty one. It is a victory that has come at a huge cost.

Proved is the correct past tense form, but proven is used when an adjective.

Protagonist and antagonist are not opposites. Protagonist is the first character, the one who drives the story. It comes from Greek “Protos” and “Agonistes.” Of antagonists, there can be many. It comes from the Greek “antagonidzo,” to struggle against.

Please. Prophecy is a noun, and prophesy is a verb.

And prodigal means profligate and wasteful not wandering or disobedient.

Why use “preventative” when “preventive” means precisely the same thing and is shorter. Think of all the ink you’ll save over a life time.

Premier is an official of the government; premiere is a debut.

Pour means a flow; pore means to read carefully.

“Over the next short period of time” is gobbledygook that means “I’m not saying when, but I want you to think it will be soon.”

To parley means to join in conference; to parlay means to trade one gain for another.

Uneducated Words

I have been a teacher of one sort or another for over fifty years. I am highly educated, having done thirteen years in primary and secondary schools followed by four years of undergraduate work at university and six years of post-graduate work. When people like me hear you say any of the following three words, which are actually not real words, we think you are uneducated. Maybe that doesn’t matter to you. Fine. It may matter in your next job interview.


and the worst,


If any of those look correct to you, read more and get a book on the Most Misspelled Words. Please.

Thank you.

Shelley and Tennyson

Percy Bysshe Shelley’s sonnet is named “Ozymandias” not “Oxymandias.” Shelley’s wife Mary wrote “Frankenstein.” Percy Bysshe (pronounced “Bish”) Shelley’s life is that of a candle, though not burning long, burned exceedingly bright.

Alfred, Lord Tennyson is among the top ten most quoted writers in collections of famous sayings. He is often given as the source of, “Ours is not to reason why, ours is but to do or die,” one of the most frequently misquoted sayings. What Tennyson actually wrote in Charge of the Light Brigade was, “Their’s not to reason why / Their’s but to do and die.”

Do and die, not or. And the apostrophe is wrong, but I doubt anyone could look him in the eye to tell him so.