Sunday, September 20, 2009

Whose blog is this, anyway?

Words If you enjoy words and word usage, it is your blog! Lori, Guido, and I may be the ones posting, but we share a love of language and have a mutual interest in a continued effort to improve and learn, and have some fun along the way.

My topic today is reflected in the title of this entry: who's vs. whose.

The apostrophe has been the topic here twice before: here and here. It's always worth repeating, because a misplaced apostrophe can change a well-intentioned phrase to nonsense.

Who's is a contraction of who is or who has. An appropriate use would be "Who's got the football?" or "Who's going with me to the football game?"

Whose is the possessive of who, and is used to show...well, possession. "Whose football is this?" or "Whose house are we watching the football game at?" (You could also say "At whose house are we watching the football game?" but that sounds a little stilted.)

As with other contractions, a good way to remember which is correct is to expand the contraction. In the first case, "Who has got the football?" makes sense. In the second case, "Who is football is this?" makes no sense whatsoever.

As for the score...who's counting?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

I'm not exaggerating!

At least not when it comes to the word literally.

I think we all see this word misused often; in the worst misuse, I've heard people say "Literately." [cringe]

The word means actually or without exaggeration. If you use it as merely an intensifier, you are probably misusing it. An example is "I was so angry, I literally saw red." Unless you actually had a crimson pall come across your vision, you didn't "literally" see red. However, if you say, "I was so angry that I burst a blood vessel in my eye; I literally saw red," that would be appropriate.

Make sure that if you use literally, you are presenting an accurate approximation of what really happened or what you really felt, without exaggeration. "Literally" is not meant to be used as a metaphor, but as a true representation of events or feelings.