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Principles of English Usage: Standard Written American English by Joseph Suglia


by Joseph Suglia

Table of Contents


All of these sentences are wrong. Why?

“Subconscious,” “subconsciously”

Stupidity vs. Ignorance

Analogy Blindness

Twenty-Seven More Principles of English Usage

Groups of Animals


Adverse vs. Averse

Affect vs. Effect



Alternately vs. Alternatively

Amid vs. Among

Analogous vs. Similar

And, But, Or, Because

Anxious vs. Eager


“As to”


Blatant vs. Flagrant


The Brave and the Cowardly


Cactuses, Octopuses, and Ignoramuses on your Syllabuses

Censure vs. Censor

Classic vs. Classical




Compliment vs. Complement

Compose vs. Comprise


Copious Notes, Stark Contrasts, Heated Debates, Devastating Losses, and Firm Believers

Danglers (Misplaced or Dangling Modifiers)


Deism vs. Theism–Or, Why I am Such a Spiritual Person

Deja vu

Delusion vs. Illusion

Devil’s Advocate

Dialogue, Conference, Reference, Table



Discreet vs. Discrete

Discriminating against People Like Me

Disinterested vs. Uninterested

Each other vs. One another

Economic vs. Economical

Elicit vs. Illicit


Enjoying Reading

Enormity vs. Enormousness

Envelop vs. Envelope

“Everybody danced with their spouses”

Everyday vs. Every Day


Few vs. Less

Fleshy vs. Fleshly

Fruit, Salt, and Mustard

French Latin vs. Anglo-Saxon German

The Holy Dictionary





Iconic Role Models

“I could care less”

Imply vs. Infer

In behalf of vs. On behalf of


Inflammable Flammables

“In terms of…”

Into vs. In to

It isn’t ironic. It really isn’t.



Leading Question


“Looking forward to receive…”

Malnutrition, malnourishment

Masterful vs. Masterly

May, Might, Could


Mutual Friends Love Platonic Friends





Oversimplified Oversimplifications

Parameter vs. Perimeter


Phenomenal Phenomena!

Preposition at the End of the Sentence




“Quick question!”



Restauranteur vs. Restaurateur

Ridiculously Ridiculous Ridiculousness

Sensual vs. Sensuous

Sports Metaphors

Than vs. Then

Too Many Words



Is it “try to help you” or “try and help you”?

Uniquely Unique Uniqueness

Waiting All Night on You (in High School)

The End



















ana kasparian, nate silver, subconscious, subconsciously, the young turks, Uncategorized, young turks

“Subconscious,” “subconsciously”

On the 10 May 2016 episode of the internet news show The Young Turks, Ana Kasparian, who is otherwise admirable, said of Nate Silver’s political bias that it is “subconscious.”

Her exact words: “I think that all of us, regardless of who you are, have our own political biases, and it sometimes subconsciously plays a role in how we do our work.”

The term subconscious was never used by Freud and was, indeed, explicitly repudiated by Freud.  It originated in the French psychoanalytic school and has since stubbornly established itself as an Americanism.

The Germans retranslated the English word subsconscious into German: Unterbewusstsein and unterbewusst.  But again, Freud never used the word!

Freud maintained that the only useful distinction is between the unconscious and consciousness.

The words subconscious and subconsciously come from a misinterpretation of the human mind.  There is no “below” in the human mind.  The entire point is that what is unconscious is inaccessible to human consciousness.

Use unconscious instead of subconscious.

ignorance stupidity, ignorance vs. stupidity, stupidity ignorance, stupidity vs. ignorance, Uncategorized

Stupidity vs. Ignorance

Stupidity is not ignoranceStupidity is the inability to understand basic concepts.  Ignorance is the absence of knowledge (from gnosis, Greek for “knowledge”).

analogy blindness, Uncategorized

Analogy Blindness by Dr. Joseph Suglia

ANALOGY BLINDNESS by Dr. Joseph Suglia

Over the years, I have invented a number of words and phrases.  Genocide pornography is one that I am especially proud of (cf. my essays on Quentin Tarantino); also: anthropophagophobia, another word that I coined, which means “the fear of cannibalism” (cf. my essay on As You Like It).  I would like to introduce to the world (also known as Google) a new linguistic term:

analogy blindness (n.) the inability to perceive what an analogy represents.  To be lost in the figure of an analogy itself, while losing sight of the concept that the analogy describes.


The Analogist: Polygamy is like going to a buffet instead of a single-serve restaurant.  Both are inadvisable.

The Person Who is Blind to the Analogy: People love buffets!


The Analogist: Being taught how to write by Chuck Palahniuk is like being taught how to play football by a one-legged man.

The Person Who is Blind to the Analogy: A one-legged man who knows how to play football?  That’s great!


The Analogist: You should not have reprimanded her in such a rude manner for taking time off from work.  You treated her as if she were guilty of some terrible offense, such as plagiarism.

The Person Who is Blind to the Analogy: But plagiarism is bad!


Derived from Hui-neng: When the wise person points at the Moon, the imbecile sees the finger.

Dr. Joseph Suglia

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Watch this video.

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All of these sentences are wrong. Why?

All of these examples are wrong.  Why?

Egregious perusals [Note to Self]: ingenuity, h.

Bland blandishments

Language gets more and more stupid over time.–Joseph Suglia

The airplane glid to safety. = Is this wrong?  If so, why?

Be careful with the word those.

“Me and him called one another back and forth, wily-nily.”

How does one pronounce ideology?

“That is the main focus of my essay.”

“The father lifted up his boy from the wheelchair.”

“When she began entering the church she saw the people looking at her.”

“He stood up and loudly mentioned to us that this is the final conclusion of the meeting.”

Exact revenge?  Enact revenge?  Extract revenge?

“She is a hostage negotiator” (thanks, Susan).

“He is married now, so he is not eligible for dating” (thanks, Yenfen).

“Luke throwing away the light saber is very symbolic.”

“He has a lot of self-hatred for himself.”

“She refuses to be party to the normalization of Donald Trump.”

“He wanted to suspect me of stealing the chocolate.”

“That morning, I decided to try to start teaching.  The students began to listen.”

= vacuum words

“I wasn’t satisfied with those pictures that I found” (thanks, Yenfen).

“I deeply and slowly breathed in silence” (thanks, Yenfen).

“Evolution is just a theory, dude.”

“We will bring you your avo toast and avo latte momentarily.”

“We will bring you your avo toast and avo latte presently.”

“It’s their choice if they want to take safe precautions” (thanks, Gabriel).

“I don’t know what mother! (2017) is about, but I have theories.”

“This is not even remotely close to that” (thanks, Joseph).

“The majority have rights.”

“Hoards of hungry suburbanites go into the diner every Sunday.”

“Eat to your heart’s contempt.”

“The legal case is a good precedence.”

“She has had a great effect in student’s lives, especially those students who have had hardships.”

“I heard their laugh” (thanks, Yenfen).

“I have self-awareness on what they say” (thanks, Raquel).

“I do have a problem regarding where I am at” (thanks, Raquel).

“I went to go see him” (thanks, Raquel).

“I started to get worried” (thanks, Raquel).

“Also, I will tell him not to worry” (thanks, Raquel).

“The dog was eating his breakfast” (thanks, Raquel).

“I had saw your stream, and it was great” (thanks, Tod).

“The lovers follow their hearts to see where they will lead them to” (thanks, Yenfen).

“I gave the letter to my mother, not my father” (thanks, Yenfen).

“She had her hair done by a professional.”

“I am a very popular YouTuber.  I am recognized all of the time on the street.”

“The inconspicuous eatery services tasty food” (thanks, Yenfen).

“I focused closely only on medical institutions.”

“I literally don’t care.”

“You must learn to become a more whole person.”

“The altar boy mistrusts the priest.”


“The altar boy distrusts the priest.”

“His love is so unconditional that it is worthy of admiration.”

“Try to imagine the marriage of Taylor Swift and Harry Styles.”

“I’m going to deconstruct your argument.”

“His politics are meaningless.”

“My boyfriend’s ex totally passively aggressively liked my Instagram picture.”

“Lawrence Jr. realized that he was in love” (thanks, Cecilia).

“They decided to keep their romance in secret” (thanks, Cecilia).

“She was different, understanding, and enjoyable to spend time with” (thanks, Cecilia).

“The baby was a bundle of joy” (thanks, Cecilia).

“He was deeply profound” (thanks, GRE).

“The Hollywood actress posted a candid message about how her post-baby body has changed since giving birth on Instagram.”

“The pilots on the aircrafts are eating their veals.”

“There are many different peoples and persons in the world.”

“It was an absolute whirlwind of tension.”

“We feel it could be an outstanding place.”

“This has happened through to the current day” (thanks, Andre).

“Truer relationships can be found.”

“This will bolster the morale of the troops.”

“This is his ultimate goal and where the poem reaches its end.”

Who are you seeing today? OR: Whom are you seeing today?

Who are you braver than? OR: Whom are you braver than?

Who have you become? OR: Whom have you become?

“Guess what?” (thanks, Yenfen).

“I regularly treat patients who are unstable or psychotic” (thanks, Zubair).

“CNN is very fake news” (thanks, Donald).

“My friend is at the clinic” (thanks, Zubair).

“They understand, like me, that I am a great person” (thanks, Zubair).

“My specialty is centered in otolaryngology” (thanks, Zubair).

“My major is psychology” (thanks, Zubair).

“In relation with my mother, I am an unhappy person” (thanks, Zubair).

“The spark of this experience awoke in me a passion for medicine” (thanks, Zubair).

“We graduated high school” (thanks, Zubair).

“I thought about my job all of the time” vs. “I thought of my job all of the time” (thanks, Zubair).

“I prefer Chinese instead of Indian food” (thanks, Zubair).

“I made it possible for him to live again” (thanks, Zubair).

“I was very wrong” (thanks, Gabriela).

Consists of vs. Consists in

“Responsible reading ______________ remembrance and a tendency to look up unknown words.”

“My dinner ___________________ pickles and bananas.”

Anytime vs. Any time

Do you have _________ to visit me today?

Visit me ________________.

“I apologize about the mistake” vs. “I apologize for the mistake” (thanks, Leibnis).

“When my father was in the hospital, I had a sense of desolation” (thanks, Zubair).

“I admit I am not guarding most of the precepts in my heart written by Solomon” (thanks, Leibnis).

“That is incredible, but I can believe it” (thanks, Ben).

“The end result is good” (thanks, Susan).

“This is the crucial crux of the story” (thanks, Lauren).

“The argument is overly simplistic” (thanks, Taylor).

“We see the male sports teams receiving special privileges” (thanks again, Taylor).

“After an extend period of time these athletes will become egotistic and not use to being told no.”

“There is still potential that Kane could have been guilty.”

“That is only a hypothetical possibility” (thanks, Richard).

“Our goal can be easily achievable.”

“At the age of eighteen I remember going on winter break to Holly Hill, Florida and on spring break to Kansas City, Missouri.”

“If advertising dollars don’t keep these sorts of channels afloat, it will be up to you, the viewers, to keep this content alive” (thanks, T.J.).

“I thought I wanted to attend the A1 Barber School in Portage Park, Illinois in April.”

“Between the three of us, we should be able to buy him something nice for his birthday.”

“The husky is hovering in the air” (thanks, Yenfen).

“Look at the human eating tiger.”

“The Deutschmark is Germany’s currency.”

“That is the first prototype of the machine.”

“The computer is 85% accurate.”

“It was a surprise that I didn’t expect.”

“As a mother, I object to that remark.”

“As an educator, I have some reservations about the cable television program and how it represents teachers.”

“I get help from my friends, family, and even from my boyfriend.”

“He was angry, although he had no reason to be.”

Morality vs. Ethics

Care about vs. Care for

At the counter vs. On the counter

Terrify vs. Horrify

Pour over vs. Pore over

Mad vs. Angry

Pain vs. Suffering

Incident vs. Incidence (thanks, Taylor)

Hatchet vs. Axe

Exist vs. Live

Solitude vs. Loneliness

“The comedian evoked laughter from the audience.”

“In conclusion, the students are sent to the office do to minor misbehaviors.”

“She is a woman that loves flowers” (thanks, Darius).

“When America is united, it is totally unstoppable” (thanks, Donald).

“There is no one else but me standing in a vast desert” (thanks, Yenfen).

“The athlete needs to take a preventive vaccine” (thanks, Yanhui).

Semi- vs. Quasi- (thanks to the Young Turks)

PUN: “She invents fantasy lives through which she lives vicariously”: heteronym

PUN: “She is not present to receive her present”: homonym

PUN: “The paste will paste us together.”

PUN: “The tear drew from her a tear.”

PUN: “The content leaves me content.”

PUN: “The stationery is stationary.”

PUN: “He never refuses refuse.”

PUN: “When Putin and Trump shook hands, it was the Clasp of the Titans.”

“Both of the candidates have their own echo chamber.”

“I’m visiting my best friend at the hospital.”

“I have heard all kinds of hypotheticals from Taylor Swift.”

“They automatically assumed that he made overt racist remarks.”

“That is a perfect example of speculative fiction.”

“Me and my wife are deceptively strong, like mongeese.”

Skepticism vs. Cynicism

Uncharted vs. Unchartered

Super- vs. Supra- (thanks, Yenfen)

“The presidential candidate compared himself favorably to Jimmy Carter.”

“A majority of people eat fried chicken and drink ice tea.”

“I don’t remember the article.  I only perused it.  I’ll read it carefully, if I can find the time.”

“I am self-conscious of my teeth and tend to struggle with enunciating words.”

“Don’t be so close minded.”

“Parents can have negative or positive influences on their child.”

“That is a perfect example of how a person should speak.”

“Water leeked through the calender, which contained leaks.”

“My parents worked hard to put my siblings and I through college.”

“Ted Cruz is no longer a viable candidate for the presidency.”

“Society says that everyone has to be married or they’ll turn into a lobster.”

“She said that she wanted to lay down.”

“My one major priority is school.”

“Mexico is where she spent all her life and plans to keep it that way.”

“Aren’t you over-exaggerating what he said?”

“The stalker is levying criticism at me” (thank you, New York Times).

“Personally, I want my skin to stay clear.”

“They feel ambivalent, resentful, and even question their decisions.”

“There was an area in between the two houses.”

“He was short, dark-skinned and had a low haircut.”

“He wore sometimes short sleeve shirts that were grey or blue colored.”

“I stopped taking the customers behavior personal.”

“When customers tried on clothes in the dressing room, it was my responsibility to put them on the hanger.”

“I wondered why these trials that I endured were happening to me.”

“I wondered why my trials that I had endured were happening to me.”

“I don’t know what I’m going to do next, but I promise it won’t be boring”: David Bowie said this quote.

“This is a forbidden place that you are not supposed to visit.”

“He’s such a womanizer.”

“My boyfriend fixed my internet connection. He is so brilliant.”

“Robert told us about Conan’s appalling grades and his friend.”  amphiboly

Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) is a cult classic of the highest order.”

“I want to tell her that I love her, but the point is probably moot.”

“He adopted the disguise of a penguin in order to fool the other penguins into believing that he was a penguin.”

“He turned towards the sun and breathed a sigh of relief. He had not been eaten by the lion.”

“All of my life, I wanted to be a circus master and the owner of a puppet show.”

“I am alluding to the fact that you were not in church yesterday evening.”

“I do not approve of your conduct, my daughter.”

“We are apt to go fishing, once the weather grows warm.”

“Within the lion cage were various articles of clothing.”

“The river smells badly.”

“Climb down from the ladder, son! It’s barbeque time!”

“Prior to August, I commenced my new life as a professional Easter Bunny.”

“My apartment-mate is continuously interrupting me when I’m trying to watch Game of Thrones.”

“In 2009, all of us lived in a state of financial deprivation.”

“My last bottle of egg nog is vacant.”

“I am equally as important an employee as her.”

“It is essential that you call me back, Yvonne.”

“My girlfriend asked if we could watch the last episode of Mad Men. For example, she’s always trying to get her way.”

“When the train ran over my leg, it was excessively painful.”

“Every masculine eye was watching Penny” (Lord of Language, Chuck Palahniuk).

“I am fully committed to attend the TEDx conference with you tomorrow.”

“TRIGGER WARNING: There is a gratuitous sex scene in Gone Girl.”

“The suicide bomber was hung tonight on television.”

“It can’t hurt to put more mustard on the bread.”

“I tire of you and your ilk.  You people think you are so reasonable, with your meatless food options.”

“My former girlfriend is now languishing in an insane asylum, and my grandmother is rotting away in a mental hospital.”

“Inside of every ATM machine, there is a leprechaun.”

“This job involves a lot of work.”

“At this juncture, we do not have any new job openings.”

“Just exactly what are you trying to say about my godmother?”

“He is a weird kind of a guy, but he has a nice car.”

“Later on, we ate bacon-flavored popcorn and watched the last episode of The Late Show with David Letterman.”

“I loaned $200 from you, but I really wanted $350.”

“Like I said, she looked like she was pregnant.”

“He has an authoritative parenting style. He is an authoritative parent.”

“We wished her lots of luck with her new self-published book.”

“I love dancing to the new Ke$ha album.”

“I am very mad at you for cheating on me with the mailman.”

“Thanks for the invite to the meet.”

“The artist model was, like, totally naked, dude.”

“Your politics do not make you special.”

“None but me know the truth.”

“In his novel on the origin of the universe, Dr. Krauss explains how the universe came out of nothing. He uses scientific evidence to back up his claims.”

“She is such an obnoxious person, always yawning with her mouth open and chewing gum all of the time.”

“What a peculiar person you are, with your taxidermic birds.”

“My son is perpetually yawning when I talk to him.”

“Only about 25% of all snakes are actually poisonous.”

“Practically every day, she sneers at me and avoids eye contact.”

“I realize now, after a great deal of pain, that we can never be together.”

“They are my sons, Wolf and Winthorp, respectively.”

“The snow is responsible for the roadside catastrophe.”

“I seldom ever drink alcohol, but when I do, I imbibe raspberry cider with a tinge of lime.”

“Let’s try an experiment, class. Let’s sing a song, and see if the mice dance!”

“Whom do you think will be the next celebrity speaker at the TEDx conference?”

“I stopped into the grocery store to buy some anchovy-stuffed eggplants and some ripe grapefruits.”

“I watch The Game of Thrones for historic reasons, to try to understand what this world was based on before I got here. I like to know how we got from there to here and the similarities between then and now.”

“Masters who picked and chose favorites among the slaves was also a reason why rebellions failed.”

“Rebellions against slavery was a hard truth.”

“Because they are violent, children shouldn’t play video games.”

“Do not flout your obliques in front of my son, pool boy.”

“He had a sarcastic tone in his voice.”

“The priest looked at the altar boy disingenuously and asked him, ‘Why did you eat the owl?’”

“My daughters were quite nonplussed when I got the job as President of the United States.”

“I eat very healthy foods, like muffins and smoothies and frozen yogurt.”

“He is a baleful person who writes negative reviews of famous authors.”

“I wish I was snowshoeing right now.”

“The encyclopedia salesman is ridiculously photogenic and ridiculously telegenic.”

“I was repulsed by the creepy man who was photographing me without my consent.”

“Belinda was agitated by her son.”

“Antonine is uber-normal, and he eats uber-delicious sushi.”

“Jonathan Franzen writes about the way in which humans impact the bird population.”

“Everytime I look at you, I self-destruct.”

“I self-identify as a religious person.”

“They are not empathetic or feel guilt.”

“The musculatures of the men in the movie directed by Angelina Jolie made me feel insecure.”

“That is very possible and extremely necessary.”

“We had the most perfect wedding, but it was very meaningless, at the end of the day.”

“Look, people, you are phenomenal, but can we just stop all of the hate?”

“Texas seemed an eternity away.”

“Ever since I was five years old I started dancing, dancing is form of movement that I use to express my emotions and feelings.”

“Dancing and entertaining is a passion for me.”

disinterested vs. uninterested (interest and feeling)

crevasse vs. crevice

hoard vs. horde

proven vs. proved

vapor vs. vaper

hypothetical vs. hypothesis

inter vs. intern

while vs. when

_____ the bird flew through the window, I was eating a sandwich.

_____ the bird was flying through the window, I was eating a sandwich.

foul vs. fowl

climatic vs. climactic

border vs. boarder

nomophobia (accepted by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary in the year of grace 2016)

disconnect vs. disconnection

embarrassment vs. humiliation

evaluate vs. value

Earth vs. earth

incentify, disincentify, incentivize, disincentivize, operationalize

parameter vs. perimeter

ensure vs. insure

“She was comparing herself to Beyonce.”
“She was comparing herself with Beyonce.”

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Twenty-Seven More Principles of English Usage

1.) Authoritarian vs. Authoritative

2.) I Seem to Recall

3.) If vs. Whether

I can’t decide _______ I should wear orange and black to the Halloween party.

I can’t decide _______ I should wear orange or black to the Halloween party.

4.) Big, Diminutive, Colloquialism, Monosyllabic, Pulchritude

5.) Overwritten

6.) Free, Precise, Correct, Unique, Perfect, Exact, Accurate, Whole, Entire, Preferable, Possible, True, False, Timeless, Immortal, Meaningless, Indestructible

7.) Why are You Trying too Hard, Man?

8.) Fervent, Fervid, Perfervid

9.) Bland Blandishments

10.) You are so Passive-Aggressive

11.) Congrats on the Reveal, the Hate, and the Invite

12.) I Beg Your Pardon, May I Beg the Question?

13.) Eternity vs. Infinity

14.) Loose vs. Lose

15.) Don’t You Know that I am in a Relationship?

16.) Home vs. Hone

17.) Pride vs. Vanity

18.) The Book is Totally Better than the Painting

19.) Lie vs. Lay

20.) Further vs. Farther

21.) Empathy

22.) Objectification, Antisemitism, Biphobia, Wage (?), Transphobia, and Homophobia

23.) You are so Relatable

24.) You are a Troll

25.) Envy vs. Jealousy

26.) The Nazis are coming!

27.) Miracle