NOTE: I don't post to this blog super-duper often anymore, because I'm busy writing, well, books. (Read more about that here.) For more up-to-date, day-to-day ramblings, visit my Facebook page.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Pet Peeve: Climatic vs. Climactic

I’ll make this short and sweet. There’s no such word as anticlimatic.

Okay, I guess there could be. But what would it mean? The word climatic refers to climate—as in, the weather of a particular region.

Seattle’s climatic conditions make it difficult to schedule a picnic.

Climactic—note the interior c—refers to climax, as in the highest point of dramatic tension or, well, any other sort. Never mind—we won’t go there.

The commercial interrupted the climactic scene of the movie.

And back to the word anticlimatic, which would mean—what? antiweather? I’m not sure I know of anyone who is anticlimatic, but the word anticlimactic (again, interior c) refers to something that should have been really exciting but turned out to be a big letdown.

After the high stakes of the blackjack tables, our midnight penny-ante game must have seemed anticlimactic.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Pet Peeve: Less Is More

True confession time, blog readers. This isn’t my pet peeve; it’s Hubby’s. And here’s the true confession part: It’s his peeve about me.

I’ve told you before that my grammar isn’t perfect—not in writing, and certainly not in speech. Here’s a gaffe I make so often it sets Hubby's teeth on edge:

I wish less people would mow their lawns on Sunday morning.
The gaffe isn’t, of course, with the assertion, because Sunday morning is for me a time of quiet reflection (and sometimes sleep). The problem is with the word less.

Less is an adverb relating how much. But it can only be used when referring to amounts, not numbers. In other words:
I would like less than half a glass of juice.
No, I’d like less than that, please.
Sheila’s car has less than half a tank of gas.
John has less hair than Nigel.
Because I’m speaking of volume, not number, I correctly use the word less. But in the case of the annoying lawn mowers, the word should be fewer:

I wish fewer people would mow their lawns on Sunday
I would like fewer than 3 eggs.
Fewer than fifty people attended the concert.
Nigel has fewer pimples than John.

For volume, use less. For numbers, use fewer.

Sorry, dear.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009