Fans and stans by Angela Caldin

I came across a word that was new to me the other day. It was at the end of a Randy Rainbow tribute to Dr Fauci which was itself a parody of the song Gee, Officer Krupke from West Side Story. Randy sings ‘Dr Fauci, you’re the one we stan.’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lUiDLcp_hIw I thought this was a strange verb and that maybe it was a mistake and had some letters missing. But then I saw the word again in The Guardian when the columnist Hadley Freeman wrote that she was ‘no Prince William… Read More

Angela’s ABCs flout and flaunt words sometimes confused

It seemed to me that flout and flaunt were sufficiently different for it to be difficult to confuse them. I thought their meanings were clear. If you don’t comply with a rule, you are flouting it. If you make a big display of your success, you are flaunting it It seems that I was wrong. I was tut-tutting to myself the other day because I noticed that one of The Guardian’s coronavirus update writers had used flaunt to mean flout. Nobody seemed particularly bothered. When I did some research, I realised this… Read More

Words sometimes confused: continuous and continual by Angela Caldin

I know that there is a difference between continuous and continual and I remember being taught about it at school. But sometimes I forget what the difference is. So I’m explaining it for my benefit and for the benefit of anyone else who might like to know that they are not synonyms. Continuous indicates that something goes on without interruption, whereas continual indicates that something goes on over a period of time, but with intervals of interruption. The continuous noise of machinery from the next door factory began to affect her health…. Read More

Angela’s ABCs: meretricious and meritorious by Angela Caldin

There are various words in the English language whose meanings I only half understand, like paradigm or leverage or egregious. There’s also a word whose meaning I thought I understood, but having looked it up, I discover I had misunderstood it completely. That word is meretricious. I had vaguely thought it had something to do with merit and that it described something good, but in fact if you describe something as meretricious, you disapprove of it because although it appears attractive it actually has little value or integrity.  It’s used to suggest… Read More

The joys of grammar by Angela Caldin

At school, in English lessons in the middle of the last century, we were taught something called parsing which involved analysing a sentence in terms of its grammar, identifying the parts of speech, and understanding its syntax. I loved parsing and I think this way of looking at language can be helpful in learning foreign languages and in writing in general. One of the main rules of grammar is that the subject of a sentence must always agree with the verb. In other words, they both must be singular or they both… Read More