1. “The business would suit any one who enjoys bad health.” [From an advertisement in a daily newspaper of New-York.] Few persons who have bad health can be said to enjoy it. Use some other form of expression: as, one in delicate health, or, one whose health is bad.
2. “We have no corporeal punishment here,” said a schoolmaster. Corporeal is opposed to spiritual. Say, corporal punishment. Corporeal means having a body.
3. “She is a notable woman,” as was said of the wife of the Shepherd of Salisbury Plain,—meaning careful, and pronounced as though divided not-able. This word is no longer current, with this pronunciation or signification, except to a slight extent in England. It has become obsolete, and its use now is in bad taste.
4. “Insert the advertisement in the Weekly.” Emphasize vert, and not ise.
5. “He rose up, and left the room:” leave out up, as it is absurd to say rise down. The Irishman who was hoisted down the coal pit, did not observe this rule.
6. “Set down and rest yourself:” say sit down; setting is said of the sun in the west, but cannot be properly applied to a person taking a seat. “Sit down” is not improper, though “rise up” (as in No. 5) should never be used. Sitting down expresses the act of appropriating a chair, while sitting up means sitting erect. Sitting up also refers to watching during the night with the sick.
7. “You have sown it very neatly,” said a seamstress to her apprentice: say sewed, and pronounce so as to rhyme with road. The pronunciation of sew, meaning “to use the needle,” violates its spelling; it is the same as that of sow, meaning “to scatter seed.”
8. “This is a secret between you and I:” say, you and me. The construction requires the objective case in place of I, which is in the nominative. It is in still better taste to say, “This is a secret with you and me.”
9. “Let you and I take a walk:” say, Let you and me, or, Let us. Who would think of saying, Let I go? The expression “Let I and you” is frequently heard, which contains the additional impropriety of putting the first person before the second.
10. “He is going to learn his brother Alfred how to knit nets:” say, teach. The act of communicating instruction is expressed by “teaching,” the act of receiving it by “learning.” The distinction between these words was made as early as the time of Shakespeare, and cannot be violated without incurring censure.
11. “John and Henry both read well, but John is the best reader:” say, the better reader, as best can be properly used only when three or more persons, or objects, are compared.
12. “Thompson was there among the rest.” This mode of expression, which is very common, literally declares an impossibility. The signification of “the rest” is, those in addition to Thompson, and of which Thompson formed no part; he could not therefore be among them. A more correct form would be, “Thompson was there with the rest.”
13. “The two first cows are the fattest,” said a farmer at an agricultural fair. He should have said, “the first two;” there can be only one that is first—the other must necessarily be second.
14. “It is an error; you are mistaken:” say, you mistake. Mistaken means misapprehended; “you mistake,” means “you misapprehend.”
15. “Have you lit the fire, Bridget?” say, lighted; lit is now obsolete.
16. “To be is an auxiliary verb:” pronounce auxiliary as though spelled awg-zil-ya-re, and not in five syllables.
17. February: this word is often incorrectly spelled by omitting the r.
18. The “Miscellany” was an interesting publication: pronounce miscellany with the accent on mis, and not on cel.
19. “Celery is a pleasant vegetable:” pronounce celery as it is written, and not salary.
20. “Are you at leisure?” pronounce lei in leisure the same as lee. The word should not rhyme with measure.
21. “John is my oldest brother:” say, eldest. Elder and eldest are applied to persons—older and oldest to things. Usage, however, does not make these distinctions imperative.
22. “The cloth was wove in a very short time:” say, woven.
23. “I prefer the yolk of an egg to the white:” the more common word is yelk, with the l sounded; but if yolk be used, it should be pronounced like yoke.
24. Sparrowgrass: it is only the grossest ignorance which confounds this word with asparagus. The same is the case with ing-uns for onions. A man in an obscure section of New Jersey, inquiring at a country store for onions, was told that there were none in the place. On his going out, the storekeeper turned to half a dozen idlers sitting round the stove, and said, “I wonder if that ’tarnal fool meant ing-uns!”
25. “You are very mischievous:” pronounce mischievous with the accent on mis, and not on chie, and do not say mischievious (mis-cheev-yus).
26. The following words were posted, as a sign, in a reading-room—“No Talking Allowed;” which was designed to prohibit all conversation. A wag altered the inscription so as to read, “No Talking Aloud,” which (he declared) did not prevent whispering, and chatting in low tones. What shall be said of the following—“No Smoking Aloud?”
27. “No extras or vacations:” [from the prospectus of a schoolmistress:] say, nor vacations.
28. “He was never known to be covetous:” pronounce covetous as if written covet us, and not covetyus.
29. The Three R.’s.—An ignorant and vain pedagogue, on being asked what he could teach, replied, “The three R.’s—’ritin’, ’rethmetic, and readin’.” Any persons among the readers of this little book, who may chance to be schoolmasters, are warned against giving such a course of instruction.
30. “Dearly beloved brethren:” when beloved is placed before the noun, as in this instance, pronounce it in three syllables; when placed after, in two syllables, as, “She was much be-loved by us all.” When used as a noun by itself, it is pronounced in three syllables; as, “Be-lov-ed, let us love one another.”
31. “Not as I know:” say, that I know.
32. “He came on purpose for to do it:” omit for.
33. “He would never believe but what I did it:” say, but that I did it.
34. “He is quite as good as me:” say, as good as I. Also, instead of as good as him, say, as good as he. In both these instances am or is must be mentally supplied at the end of the phrase, to suggest the meaning; and the pronouns should, therefore, be in the nominative case.
35. “Many an one has done the same:” say, many a one. A, and not an, is also used before the long sound of u, that is, when u forms a distinct syllable of itself: as, a unit, a union, a university: it is also used before eu: as, a euphony, and likewise before the word ewe: as, a ewe: we should also say, a youth, not an youth.
36. “How do you like these kind of pears?” say, these kinds; a noun in the singular number will not allow its adjective to be in the plural.
37. “You should have went home:” say, gone.
38. “John went with James and I:” say, James and me.
39. “I see him last Monday:” say, saw him.
40. “He was averse from such a proceeding:” say, averse to.
41. “Have you shook the table-cloth?” say, shaken.
42. “I have rang several times:” say, rung.
43. “I know’d him at once:” say, knew.
44. “You have drank too much of it:” say, drunk.
45. “He has chose a very poor pattern:” say, chosen.
46. “They have broke a window:” say, broken.
47. “I have just began my letter:” say, begun.
48. “Give me them books:” say, those books.
49. “Whose are these here books?” say, these books. Here is superfluous and inelegant.
50. “Who do you mean?” say, whom.