Too Err is Human….like Gramar Missteaks & Mispellings

21 01 2012

The other day I received a text from my brother. I was still in bed and had barely opened my eyes.

“I’m mad at so & so. She’s being a douche bag.”

Instead of typing out “Why?” I quickly texted a lower case “y?” My head still rested on the  pillow.

My brother texted back in complete sentences ,including punctuation and capitalization.  “Can’t you spell?”

Now I was awake. Of course, I could spell.

I responded with “Yeah, I can spell asshole.”

I found it somewhat amusing, because my brother  had hated school.  Now he was lecturing me on my spelling .

I have a  BS degree in Nursing (which does not guarantee good spelling.” And an MFA  in Writing–which doesn’t necessarily  mean I can spell either. It means that I should know enough to have someone else proof my work and not rely solely on spell or grammar checks.

I was the kid who read books during recess and the dictionary for leisure activity at home. That’s how I know words like mantilla (a silk or lace head scarf) and vandyke (a short, pointed beard).  I used to be proud of my spelling abilities. During the entire 7th grade, I never missed a spelling word–even the bonus word, pneumoconiosis or black lung. Mr. Von Ins would hand out Jolly Ranchers for 100% spelling quizzes. And every quarter, he rewarded 100% averages with a candy bar.  He ended up buying me 4 Caramellos  that year.

So  my brother and I text argued. Apparently, abbreviations in texting are his pet peeve. I told him it was 2012. Get  with the times. I abbreviate to save time. It’s short hand communication.  The medical community uses text-type abbreviations all the time.  Instead of writing out right or left, it’s abbreviated as  L or R.  Nothing to eat or drink=NPO . CHF=Congestive Heart Failure MAP=Mean Arterial Pressure OOB=Up out of bed.  I could go on forever. There’s a time and place for texting or abbreviating. And a time and place for spelling everything out.

When someone is trying to convey important information—that’s  probably not the time to correct grammar, spelling or diction.

My brother actually apologized. He didn’t realize it was a sore spot. What he didn’t realize was that it wasn’t the first time that week that my use of the English language had been corrected.


So I work for Mr. Acorn. I write for his PR campaign–touting the wholesome goodness of the catnip business. Obviously, he works mostly with the cat population, but he’s trying to expand his market to humans, dogs and even squirrels.

We had a meeting with a potential client, an elderly St. Bernard named Whiskey.  He was hoping that a catnip and lamb treat could help cure his arthritis. Mr. Acorn was just finishing up with his 1pm massage, so I asked Whiskey  if he would like to lay down on one our nice  doggy cushions.

Before I could offer him a doggy biscuit, he said “Hens lay eggs. Brick layers lay bricks. And dogs lie down.”

Lay. Lie. Laid. I’ve struggled with this word for years. My face flushed.

“Mr. Acorn will be with you shortly,” I said.

I forgot about the biscuit.

One thing is for sure, Whiskey put it in a way that I will probably never forget. The easy to memorize saying accompanied by embarrassment will insure that it sticks.


I’m not the most eloquent speaker. I stutter, sputter and sometimes say shit that doesn’t make sense.  But I can write. And I’m most certainly not an idiot.

A few days after my grammatical blunder, Hector, a pharmaceutical rep danced into the office.  He wore  a gaudy orange tie and recently had his hair cut into a mullet. Clearly, he had entered into his mid-life crisis. Hector wanted to present his  new research to Mr. Acorn. The research  proved  that catnip was an effective weight loss product for obese squirrels. Unfortunately, Mr. Acorn had accidently eaten some tree nuts, and gone home early that day.

“I’m sorry, Hector. Mr. Acorn went home for the day. He was feeling nauseous.”

It’s like I had turned on a switch.  He wiggled his finger at me.

“Now that’s a pet peeve of mine,” he said.

I wondered if I had a spinach leaf between my front teeth. Or maybe he had caught a glimpse of my tongue piercing.

Hector continued. “Mr. Acorn was nauseated. Not nauseous. If he was nauseous, he would  make other people feel ill.”

I didn’t know what to say.  I took the words nauseous and nauseated and put them in sentences in my head. They had always seemed interchangeable.

“Well, give Mr. Acorn my regards and give him these.” Hector set a box of pecans on the desk.

“But he’s allergic tree nuts. They make him nauseated,” I said.

“That’s not an allergy,” he said.

“That may be true, but it’s an unpleasant side effect.”

“Well, then give him these.”

In place of the box of pecans, was a box  of walnuts. Hector was already out the door. I rolled my eyes. I entered nauseous and nauseated into  They are interchangeable.  I’m not an idiot.


[naw-zee-eyt, -zhee-, -see-, -shee-] Show IPA verb, -at·ed, -at·ing.

verb (used with object)

1. to affect with nausea;  sicken.

2.  to cause to feel extreme disgust:  His vicious behavior towardthe dogs nauseates me.

verb (used without object)

3. to become affected with nausea.



[naw-shuhs, -zee-uhs]  Show IPA


1. affected with nauseanauseatedto feel nauseous.

2. causing nausea;  sickening; nauseating.

3. disgusting; loathsome: a nauseous display of greed.