Thursday, 26 February 2009

Spelling Thursday: discreet and discrete

I hate these words. I never know which one to use; and they both sound like feminine hygiene products that I didn't know I needed until an advertisement made me paranoid.

Discreet: an adjective meaning something or someone that avoids social embarrassment or distress by secretiveness.

Discrete: this adjective means distinct in form or concept. If the sentence involves data, this is probably the word.

Discrete data has values that are not infinitesimally close. So the number of Asbos given out in a patch in a year might be 2008: 4; 2009: 6; 2010; 3. These data are discrete, because you can't have 3.43245 Asbos. But if you have a list of heights of wrong-doers, that data set would read: 187.445cm; 134.567cm; 140.356cm; 189.001cm; 181.222cm. This is continuous data (and police are hunting high and low).

In the wild

He vomited discreetly into the wastepaper basket; wiped his mouth on a silk handkerchief, which he threw likewise into the same receptacle; and continued the interview.

Each volunteer group has a discrete budget for their own projects.

I am going to remember this because the avoiding social humiliation variety of discreet has double letters in it, just like embarrassment.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Stories I would like to sub: Number six

An anti-speed campaigner declares that she is putting her foot down.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Spelling Thursday: Rain, rein and reign

Seeing 'reigned in' or 'during his short but happy rein...' makes me feel like putting a slight distort on the width of the byline mugshot.

I've yet to see 'rain of terror', however.
Rain falls out of the sky. It can be a verb or a noun.

Rein is what you drive a horse with. If your sentence is about a. horses; or b. giving or taking away freedom, use this word. It can be a verb or a noun.

Reign is what kings and queens do. If your sentence is about someone who is in charge, use this word. It can be a verb or a noun.

That particular editor's reign of terror was marked by a full fortnight of rain and only ended when head office decided to rein him in.

Sky falling water rain is the one that has a visual rhyme with pain.

A king's reign is connected with the word 'regal' which means fit for royalty, or dignified. Knowing this might help stick that vital 'g' in your memory.

And the one left over is a horse rein. Reinforce this idea by picturing it in use on a reindeer.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Stories I would like to sub: Number five

Attractive firefighters and the headline 'Come on baby fight my fire.'

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Spelling Thursday: Stationary and stationery

Stationary -- still, in one place -- has an 'a' for 'adjective' in it.
Stationery -- pens and paper -- doesn't have an 'a' for 'adjective in it.

In the wild:

'He leapt from the stationary car and disappeared into the night.'

'Meet me in the stationery cupboard. I have some pens for you.'

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Stories I would like to sub: Number four

A waterfowl enthusiast and casino owner is looking for a mate for his rare breed drake. The headline would be: 'Let duck be a lady'.

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Spelling Thursday: Complement and Compliment

Complement (v. and n.) -- to enhance or add extra features to make something better. 'That tomato sauces complements my dinner.' Also, as a noun: 'Your new purple hat is the perfect complement to your ball gown.'
Complement (n.) -- the number needed to complete a group: 'We have a full complement at the moment. Couldn't jam another sailor in if you tried.'

Compliment (v.) -- say something nice about someone. And this is the word to use if you're thinking of 'compliment slips'. 'May I compliment you on your choice of purple hat and ball gown?'
Complimentary (adj.) -- free of charge. 'Here's your complimentary moist towelette.'

There's a 'lime' in the middle of the 'saying something nice' and 'free gift' compliment, so perhaps you can fix in your head the idea of praising a small green citrus fruit which someone has given you for free.

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Stories I would like to sub: Number three

A road -- possibly with a tenuous Bob Dylan connection -- gets some new street furniture; and I get to write the headline 'The signs they are a-changin''.