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March 30, 2009 | by  | in Opinion | [ssba]

How to use words properly

Wow. I think that title pretty much speaks for itself. Jackson suggested it to me, and since he pays me ten cents an hour in expired book vouchers, I’m obliged to write something about it. And if I don’t, he won’t let me correct grammar anymore. Bastard!

My mamma always said, “The lexicon utility is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” You are dealing with something that knows more words than you do. And you might not even procure some of the words that it provides you. Which could fuck up your granma, and can even change the significance of your prison term. Do you perceive what I portray? It also seems to give you lots of words starting with ‘p’, so if you pronunciate properly, then it will probably produce plenty of spit.

So basically, if you eat too many chocolates, you’re gonna spew all over the page, and it’ll be just nasty. You should mainly use the lexicon utility if you want to use a word you can’t remember, or if you’re trying to avoid the repetition of certain words. For an example I’ll use an excerpt from an essay by some guy called Scotty Harris, which I stole from a gend101 assignment box:

The velociraptor was the most awesomest lethal killer ever. It could reach speeds of 300kph (kills per hour) and was so lethal that it is known to have killed off numerous species, including the dinosaurs, Haast’s eagle, the dodo, the Mayans, and are even thought to been the killer of the lethal killer ‘Samurais’, including Antonie Dixon.

In this example, the words ‘lethal’ and ‘killer/killed’ are repeated a lot, which makes it sound gosh darned shit. So think: How can you improve your sentence?

I should point out here that a lot of people don’t check their own work after they have finished writing it. This is something you really need to do—you should read the whole thing through at least once very carefully to make sure you haven’t made any mistakes or missed anything out. It might even be a good idea to read it aloud to make sure it sounds okay. This will help you pick up on repetition (like in the above example) so you can fix it (even if the sentence is awesome anyway).

Once you have identified what is wrong with your sentence, think about how you can improve it. Can you use a better word or words? Can you say it differently? If you are having trouble finding a new word, maybe then you should use the lexicon utility. In the above example, the last part of the sentence (after ‘Mayans’) is the most awkward—the grammar is wrong, and sounds especially bad because of the repetition of the word ‘killer’.

For starters, let’s fix the grammar. Reading it slowly and carefully, I picked up on two errors. The first one was ‘…thought to been the killer of…’. This should either say ‘thought to have been the killer of’ or ‘…thought to be the killer of…’. Both are correct, but I think I’ll go with the former. The second mistake was a little harder to spot—Scotty Harris wrote ‘…are even thought to…’. It looks okay, but looking at the verb’s subject we find that he is talking about the velociraptor—it. If we put the subject and verb next to each other, we get ‘It […] are even thought to have been…’. ‘It are’ is not grammatically correct—we need the subject and verb to match, so to fix it we replace ‘are’ with ‘is’.

Finally, I am going to get rid of the last ‘killer’ to fix the repetition, and use the lexicon utility on lethal to see what else Mr Harris could have written.

‘and is even thought to have been the killer of the deadly ‘Samurais’, including Antonie Dixon.’


Questions about grammar? Email me at

Approved Reading:
Art of Grammar by Dionysius Thrax.
Freud, so you can analyse stuff.

Disapproved Reading:
2009 VUWSA Wall Planner.


About the Author ()

Mikey learned everything he knows about English Grammar in an MSN chat room when he was 13. Believing that people don't say "LOL" enough in everyday conversation, he has made it his mission to teach the world about grammerz one person at a time.

Comments (3)

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  1. Teh Nub says:

    Hello Michael. I hope using only two words in that opening sentence is OK with you, because it is twice the amount that U yoused. Not that I am trying to outdo you at your own job or something, but come down to the wiki at aytche tee tee pee colon doublebackslash eff bee aaii dot awg and we’ll yarn it up.
    BRB LOL STFU that is L3e7

    semicolon parentheses

  2. Mikey says:

    Ummm what? So the full title didn’t make it here for some reason. But here it is anyway:

    How to use words properly: Please do not use the thesaurus function on every word in your sentence to make yourself sound intelligent. You are not – or – How to use words properly: satisfy accomplish no more utilize the lexicon utility proceeding each declaration appearing in did you mean dour? prison term en route for formulate physically resonance gifted. Did you mean IOU? be neither one.

  3. Teh Nub says:

    Me like the second minute won, that make more sense to tehis teh nub. Big ups to you, brudder! Woot!

    PS I did mean IOU (those three letters are all next to each other! Yikes! I smell Nazi Germany all over again!)

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