11:32 AM

Writing educates more than the reader!

We all know that being a constant reader helps people learn, whether it's new words, about a culture or religion or some kind of hobby, etc. As an aspiring author,  I find that the more I write, the more I learn too! Not only about the things I may research for the plot, but grammar, dialect, structure and the origin behind words and phrases.

The best tool to teach me (or at least make me curious enough to go researching)? My word processing program. Obviously it alters me to my many spelling mistakes and typos, but often it highlights something that makes me scratch my head. For example, the words: towards and backwards. Turns out those are typical British spellings, not American. Although, when using backward as an adjective, there is no "s" at the end. I suppose if I stuck to standard American English, I wouldn't ever have to worry about whether that "s" should be there or not, but why make life easy on myself?

Colors can be foreign as well! Gray and grey? Which one is right?! Again, it's normally a case of British English versus American English.  Grey or Gray dot com gives us an easy way to remember who uses what:

grAy is how it's spelled in America
grEy is how it's spelled in England

Then there was the schooling on blonde vs. blond. We can blame this one on the French rather than the British. Courtesy of English plus dot com :


The words blond and blonde come from the French and follow somewhat the French pattern. Blond (without the e) is used to describe males, mixed gender, or uncertain gender. Blonde refers to women or female gender. In modern use, blond is sometimes used for female as well as male, but blonde is preferred for female.

Important information when you have blond/e characters!

I've seen that theatre and theater are both acceptable spellings these days (again it's the British vs. the American English) but then there are also those who say theatre refers to the art form while theater refers to the building. I couldn't find hard evidence to back me up on this (just he said she said stuff on Wiki Answers and the likes) but it seems feasible.


Some of the most interesting things I've learned from my writing are the origins behind some common words and phrases.  I was recently editing one of my manuscripts and there was a character instructing another to drink some medicine in "one foul swoop."  I stopped to look at it and wondered "Hmm. Birds swoop. Maybe it's suppose to be one fowl swoop?" I put my Google goggles on and set to find the answer. Oops. Wrong on both counts.  The phrase is actually "one fell swoop" and yes it has to do with birds and it may have been coined by the Bard himself (or at least made more popular) in Macbeth. Super interesting!

With Borders going out of business, I found myself hunting through the shelves in the writing section and found this great book called Why Do We Say It? THE STORIES BEHIND THE WORDS, EXPRESSIONS AND CLICHES WE USE (which I just noticed has no author named but was put out by Castle Books in 1985). While it seems to be missing some I would deem "popular", it has a fairly broad selection from A to Z that are both interesting and often comical. If you have a phrase you'd be interested in learning about, drop me a line in the comment section and I'll see what the book has to say!

I'm sure I'm not the only one learning while I write. What kinds of things have you come across? What has surprised and shocked you? Share with us so we can learn together!

9 comments:

Patricia Lynne said...

I've learned no matter how many types I type it I can't get definitely right. (Yes I had to spell check that.)
I think the biggest thing I've learned is too. I knew the difference between two, to and too to an extent but there was one way I didn't know to use which one: Too. Example: too much. I hadn't know it was the to with two oo's.

MBee said...

Heh I constantly typo from as form. I hate that! Spell check won't pick it up!

I also still have problems with..Oh gosh, I just totally had a brain fart and cannot remember what it is even! I keep wanted to say accept and except, but I know the difference there. Damn. This is going to drive me crazy now! I'll have to post when I figure it out. I want to say it's still an "a" word and an "e" word problem. :P It'll come to me!

MBee said...

I REMEMBERED! Heh. I still have problems with affect and effect. I feel like there's something else too. Maybe it'll come to me later :P

Austin James said...

I enjoy looking up phrases on the urban dictionary website... My great grandmother use to always say a phrase that sounded gross but I had no idea what it meant... and so I asked everyone else in the family... and everyone laughed and admitted they too never knew what it meant... so I looked it up on urban dictionary... and it was 10 times grosser than I imagined... so I'll do everyone a favour and not repeat the phrase.

MBee said...

...you know I have to know now, right? You can message me on FB if you think it's too much to post here :P

Patricia Lynne said...

She's right, Austin. Now you have to tell us!

Austin James said...

OK OK... the phrase is PUCKER STRING...

She'd always say when complaining about aches and pains that her pucker string hurt...

I'd always just smile... and say "oh that must be awful." Haha... then I looked it up on Urban Dictionary.

MBee said...

HAHAHA!

Patricia Lynne said...

LMAO! Poor Austin, I wouldn't want to hear my great grandma say that either!