Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Mistaken Identity

Deb and Baby Blaine settling a dino tiff in Canada
I recently noticed, while reading the published newsletter of an author buddy, the statement, "I'm anxious to see my new grandson."

Now this is an accomplished professional writer - make that award-winning, best-selling author of dozens of wonderful books - and she, like many of us, sometimes slip-slides down the slope of mistaken identity.

Mistaken word identity. 

Did she really mean anxious, as in "worried" or "fear about some contingency" (Webster's definition), or did she mean eager, (enthusiastic desire")?

Although there might have been an element of nervous tension about meeting the bouncing baby grand for the first time, I'd be willing to bet the farm that her anticipation and excitement were more in the eager camp.

Anxious vs eager - just one of the many tricky word pairs that often suffer mistaken identity.

Can you readily tell the differences between these commonly misused couples?

Elude/allude                              past/passed                            illicit/elicit
except/accept                           further/farther                         then/than
i.e./e.g.                                     every day/everyday                compliment/complement
counsel/council                          principle/principal                   whose/who's

I have to admit, I often screw up except and accept, and have been known to illicit a response now and then. And is there anyone who really has a handle on further vs farther other than the brilliant writer kid in the movie, Finding Forrester?

Well, the point is, as a writer who is head and shoulders above the mundane pack, you should know the difference and be able to detect an incorrect usage immediately. (That means you're proofreading your work, right??) I guarantee you editors know the difference, and your blunders in substituting one for the other might mean the difference between publication or bewilderment at receiving a steady stream of rejection slips.
I hope this subtle remainder about alluding mistaken word identity and the impotence of proofreading your manuscripts will help you develop better work principals and disciple too take you farther along the every day rode to righting success.



Melissa said...

Well written! Ha! That last paragraph was hard to read, but I guess that is a good thing. It means I am good at finding those mistaken identity words! I love your humor.

Debora M. Coty said...

Thanks so much for the comment, Melissa. I'd love to hear more from you!