Two Words: Of

Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedIn

Not literally two words. Just the one word — “of” — used in two different senses. Both jangling. At least to me!

Recently I’ve been hearing statements like “I missed that bullseye ‘cause I’m not that good of a sharpshooter.”

And there was the case of a minor soap star confessing, “I’m not that good of an actress.”

Is this usage wrong? I’m not sure, but “of” is unneeded in both cases. The wording would be tighter as “that good a sharpshooter” or “that good an actress”.

But just as I’m mulling this, along comes a Newsweek headline: “The Moon may of had an atmosphere for 70 million years.”

Whether or not the first usage of “of” is right, this second is definitely wrong. I think! Hard to be sure of anything these days, given the triumph of descriptive over prescriptive grammar.

Just don’t blame the Newsweek reporter, Janissa Delzo. In her article’s lead paragraph, she notes that scientists “now believe that our orbiting satellite may have once had a thick atmosphere”.

“May have had” is correct. “May of had” isn’t. Delzo got it right; the headline writer got it wrong.

Folks who aren’t journalists typically assume that the writer of an article also composes the headline. This rarely is true; these are different writing jobs, performed by different people.

Probably I should post a screen-shot of the Newsweek headline: It may of been corrected by the time you read this.

But I’m just not that industrious of a blogger.

(This article is part of my series on words that are #worth1000pictures.)

Two Words: Crevice/Crevasse

These look like alternate spellings of the same word. But they aren’t. To be sure, they have similar meanings and similar pronunciations. I’ve always assumed they meant the same. I was mistaken. Here’s the scoop: The other night, at maybe … Continue reading

One Southern Word: Ratback

A few years ago, there was an upsurge of interest in “how to talk Southern”. You could buy books on the language, maybe listen to podcasts. They’d teach you things like the Southern definition of “ah”. In case you’ve forgotten, … Continue reading

Three Words: Another Think Coming (or is it “Thing”?)

Can common usage of a common word like “thing” be wrong — even when it’s grammatically correct? This question pesters people like me, worrying as we do about whether grammar “rules” should be prescriptive or descriptive. For some time lately, … Continue reading

What Our Jonquils Know About Climate Change

Earlier this month (February 2017) the outdoor temperature was 77 degrees F. Even in the previous month, January, the mercury often registered above 60 degrees — and rarely fell below high 40s to mid 50s. This in East Tennessee! When … Continue reading

Valentine Anagrams — 2017 Edition!

Happy Valentine’s Day 2017! To all our long-time readers, and to a host of new subscribers: We love you all! Today you’ll see plenty of heart-themed features in the mainstream media. They’ll tell you the history of Valentine’s Day. They’ll … Continue reading

Two Words: A & Apart

The word “a” has several notable features. It’s classified grammatically as an indefinite article. This means it refers to something of which there can be more than one. For example, we’d speak of “a” tall building because there are lots … Continue reading

Our 30th Ana(versary)gram!

I can’t let 2016 escape without noting that this was the year Cheri and I celebrated our 30th anniversary. Three adventure-filled decades ago, we committed ourselves to making our union “as a fortress for well-being and salvation”. That’s how Baha’u’llah … Continue reading