Category Archives: spelling

I bet you thought I was dead!

In my wanders through the many pages of the Internets, I came across several things that really boggled my mind, now I like to consider myself reasonably well read and that I have a pretty good grasp on the English language, and only want to throttle it occasionally.

I do understand that for some people English is a bit hard to grasp hold of and that it is filled with words that look alike, but have vastly different meanings, for the average person I can understand making a mistake, but when I come across certain words on a professional business site, as well as within the confines of a published authoritative piece, I start to wonder.

The three words that have garnered my attention for the most amazing misuse within recent  memory are COMMENSURATE, COMMISERATE and COMMEMORATE.

Commensurate means:

  1. having the same measure; of equal extent or duration.
  2. corresponding in amount, magnitude, or degree: Your paycheck should be commensurate with the amount of time worked.
  3. proportionate; adequate.
  4. having a common measure; commensurable.

Commiserate means:

  1. to feel or express sorrow or sympathy for; empathize with; pity.

Commemorate means:

  1. to serve as a memorial or reminder of
  2. to honor the memory of by some observance
  3. to make honorable mention of.

So when I saw a business offering a sale for the ANZAC day long weekend holiday with the banner:-

“To commiserate the ANZAC long weekend, all items 20% off”.
I nearly fell out of my chair, that word, it does not mean what you think it means.

I started to wonder if this was just an isolated incident, but Google got me many hundreds if not thousands of cases where people have used these three words interchangeably, I saw lots of questions posed along the lines of :

“Is your pay commemorate with your experience?”

and even:

We gathered to commensurate the occasion with a few drinks and a song or two

If anyone feels like commiserating with me over the commensurate angst I felt upon reading all those  errors, then we could commemorate the occasion with a wild HUZZAH or two.


How do you spell that one again?

One of my massive readerbase (grin) sent me this question;

“Lonelyness or loneliness, I have seen both versions used, but to be honest lonelyness looks wrong to my eyes, is there a preferred way of spelling, or a rule that must be follwed?”

Well accordingt to Google there are 130,000 mentions of LONELYNESS and over 9 million for LONELINESS, so I guess that if we’re going by popular useage then LONELINESS is the way to go, I’m not sure that spelling it LONELYNESS is wrong, per se, and there might be some rule that needs to be followed.

HAPPYNESS has almost 2 million mentions on Google, though from close attention most of those seem attributed to the Will Smith movie, though I do see people using HAPPYNESS as opposed to HAPPINESS, which has 60 million references, and appears to be common useage.

AHA, here we go

Words ending in y before a consonant usually change the y to i before a suffix.

So words like happy, beauty, mystery and so on get the Y changed to an I, so therefore, LONELINESS is grammatically correct and LONELYNESS is not.

And I too will admit that LONELYNESS looks wrong to my eyes and the advertising for The Pursuit of Happyness made me cringe, much like Inglourious Basterds which sent my inner grammar nazi into a frenzy.

i before e, except after c… no longer

As a few people have pointed out the old mnemonic device to teach children their ie and ei words is to be thrown on the scrapheap, the British Government has decided that i before e, is no longer a valid method of learning what is what because there are now too many exceptions to the rule.

Well THAT is what the press would have us believe is what the report says, that’s what the press have made of this particular note in the report, on page 106 I do believe;

Note: The i before e except after c rule is not worth teaching. It applies only to words in which the ie or ei stands for a clear /ee/ sound and unless this is known, words such as sufficient, veil and their look like exceptions. There are so few words where the ei spelling for the /ee/ sound follows the letter c that it is easier to learn the specific words: receive, conceive,deceive (+ the related words receipt, conceit, deceit), perceive and ceiling.

It appears that the old menomic has undergone quite a few changes, when I went to school it went;

‘i before e except after c,  or when pronounced like an a’.

In the 1930’s it seems that they had a much more complex one;

“I before E
Except after C,
Or when pronounced “ay”
As in “neighbor” or “weigh”.

and this one;

“If the letter c you spy, put the e before the i.”

What in actuality the report is suggesting is that we teach the words, the ei words after the c, because there are so few of them, rather than relying on the mnemonic.

Ahh, changes always bring out the best and worst in people

An owed too my spellchequer

(found via a mailing list I am on)

Eye have a spelling check her
That came with my pea sea:
It marks in plane four my revue
Miss steaks eye due knot sea.

Aye strike a key oar type a word
And weight for it two say
Weather eye am wrong oar write;
It shows me strait a weigh.
As soon as a mist ache is maid
It nose bee fore two long:

And eye can put the ere or rite
Its rare lea ever wrong.
Its own lee be cause u have Ben their
That u no watt eye am go in thru;

An witch of u can b sew sure
U won’t all so bee use zing it 2?
Eye ran this poem threw spell check

As eye am shore your pleased to no;
Its let her perfect awl the weigh
My check her tolled me sew.

(If it will come fort u, Yours ken dew it to! “No misspellings found. OK”)