The Grammar Geek LOVES This


  • The bandage was wound around the wound.
  • The farm was used to produce produce.
  • The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse
  • We must polish the Polish furniture.
  • He could lead if he would get the lead out.
  • The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.
  • Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.
  • A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.
  • When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.
  • I did not object to the object.
  • The insurance was invalid for the invalid.
  • There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.
  • They were too close to the door to close it.
  • The buck does funny things when the does are present.
  • A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line.
  • To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.
  • The wind was too strong to wind the sail.
  • After a number of injections my jaw got number.
  • Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear.
  • I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.
  • How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?

The Grammar Geek: IEeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

Once again, I’m venturing into grammar geekery about something that constantly makes me twitch: the usage of i.e. Somehow, folks in my life seem to think this little abbreviation means “for example”. For example, “We’ve seen minor issues following patch installation, i.e. application hanging, credential prompting, etc.”


The nifty little abbreviation that actually means “for example” is e.g.

  • I.e. is an abbreviation for id est from the Latin meaning “that is, in other words”.
  • E.g. is an abbreviation for exempli gratia from the Latin meaning “for example”.

The abbreviations are often italicized because they are abbreviations of foreign words. However, they are both common enough that you’ll often see them in non-italicized font. For example, “etc.” is also a Latin abbreviation, but it is incredibly common and therefore never italicized.

On Postitive Attitudes

As I head towards the bus on a normal evening’s commute, I pass by a homeless gentleman selling Spare Change newspapers. Since I usually have reading material or use my Blackberry on the way home (yes, I’m on a bus–drivers aren’t in danger), I don’t want the newspaper when I give him money, but he gets me to take one anyhow. How? He asks nicely.

He tells me in a positive, friendly voice that he’s been there since 6:00 AM (and it’s more than 12 hours later), and he only has a couple more to sell before he’s done. He then chats about how he heard it was below freezing in Maine this morning, or how everyone seems tired from watching the Red Sox last night.

I keep stopping and giving him money. I keep taking that paper that goes straight into the recycling at home. Why? Because he’s pleasant to deal with. After a long day, a friendly word and an uplifting little conversation really makes me smile.

This is something I attempt to teach my user-facing geeks. I know it’s tough to work a Help Desk, since you only interact with people when something goes wrong or they need something from you, but having that positive attitude and relating to them as fellow human beings can actually make the geek’s job easier. It can make the geek’s job easier because the person on the other end of the phone will be more likely to treat the geek politely the next time he or she has a computer problem.

As a leader of geeks, I have to make sure that my geeks know that they should come in and vent to me when they get frustrated rather than take it out on the users. That helps them to stay positive on the Help Desk. But even more effective is letting them get to know the users as people. I encourage them to go to firm social events and say hello to people in hallways. Unfortunately, the users themselves often ignore the geeks, but that’s a post for another day.

The Grammar Geek: The Reign in Spain

I have to admit that I’m really tired of people “raining in” the downloading of music to their networks. I mean, not only is downloaded music a complete annoyance for companies, but water + networks = total badness–trust me, I have experience with this one.

They’re actually trying to rein in this practice. You know, like using a horse’s reins in order to stop or slow it down?

And I’ve only seen people try to reign in their users once or twice. This one almost makes sense if you’re looking at your network geek as a king or queen. But almost does not an idiom make.

So the saying is to “rein in” a practice that you wish to restrain. Got it? Excellent.

I’m all Bloggy

Simmons (where I did my MBA) has started a blogazine, and I’ve been selected as one of the alumnae/i (seriously, how ridiculous is that word?) bloggers.

Here is the site (where you can read my bio), and here is my first entry. I’ll be updating monthly, and you can find my entries here.


The Grammar Geek: Win Some, Loose Some

And the Grammar Geek is back!

A comment on one of my old Grammar Geek posts reminded me of something that makes me twitch: too many letters in lose. In other words, it seems like more and more geeks are spelling lose “loose” on various listservs, comments, tweets, and blogs.

  • lose: there are 12 definitions of this word in the online Merriam-Webster Dictionary, but, in short, it means to become without something. You know, like losing weight, losing the software license key for MS Office, losing one’s mind… Note that losing something causes a loss. And you’re a loser.
  • loose: on the other hand, loose has fewer definitions (7 or so) from the same source, most meaning not dense, not fastened securely, or to set free. Note that loosing something sets it free, and if it comes back to you, it’s yours. And you’re probably not a loser–I guess you’d be a looser, but that just sounds funny, doesn’t it? And, while looser is a word, it means more loose, as opposed to one who looses.

If you don’t have a headache after that last sentence, I hope that you now understand how many times to use the letter o when you have misplaced something. (That would be once, for those of you who forgot…)

On the Blame Game

I pride myself on not playing the Blame Game. I tend to say, “I don’t really care who caused the problem, I want to know two things: how to fix it, and how to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

A few weeks ago, however, I really wanted to play it.

Why did I want to play the Blame Game? Because I was MAD. I was angry. And I wanted someone to pay for it. I wanted them to know exactly whose actions caused me this pain, and I wanted them to be penalized for it.

Wait, that’s not how I normally work. That is, in fact, antithetical to how I run my department. But this was outside–I wasn’t running the show in this case.

This experience gave me a bit of insight into what I’ve experienced from bosses, users, attorneys, and even my father: when you’re mad, you want someone to pay. As a leader, I have to be on-guard for this from myself, especially with the people that I lead. As the head of an IT Department, I have to realize where the Blame Game is coming from when people either inside or outside the department.

By understanding, I will find it easier to empathize and guide the conversation away from blame and towards a productive solution. By understanding, I can explain to my staff what’s going on outside the department so that they can understand. By understanding, I can guide situations away from blaming and towards fixing.

I guess getting angry and wanting someone to pay for it taught me something. Go figure.