1. Atari
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    Atari Active Member

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    Words or Phrases that Annoy Me

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Atari, Feb 6, 2009.

    The word 'past' means,

    past >adjective 1 gone by in time and no longer existing.


    The word 'pass' means:

    pass >verb 1 move or go onward, past, through, or across


    Both words have several meanings, however; the past tense of 'pass' is 'passed,' yet if you read a book, you will probably NOT find the word 'passed'. The word used for 'to cross paths' will ALWAYS be 'past'.

    WHY!? I understand that 'past' can mean 'passed,' but it seems to me that it would be more explicit if one were to use 'past' to refer to time, and 'passed' to refer to the action of moving in front of someone.
    Is there a rule when publishing a book that you are not allowed to use the word 'passed'?




    The definition of 'that' is:

    that >pronoun & >determiner (pl. those) 1 used to identify a specific person or thing observed or heard by the speaker.

    >conjunction 1 introducing a subordinate clause

    These are two different words. One is a conjunction and another is a pronoun.

    So using the words consecutively in a sentence, (For example, "I wish that that guy would shut up,") is technically CORRECT.
    The only problem is that it is a bit. . . monotonous.

    A good way to avoid it is changing the entire sentence structure, or simply finding a different way to phrase that bit:
    "I wish that the guy standing over there would shut up," or, "I wish that he would shut up," or, "I wish that the man in the hat would shut up".
    I don't see any excuse for published books when they use the words 'that' and 'that' back to back.


    Mostly novice writers, but many experienced writers make this mistake:

    Why don't you try and jump over that rock.

    Instead, it should be,

    "Why don't you try to jump over that rock?"




    I may have experienced this once in a real book, but I have CERTAIN seen this in many novice writings, where a verb at the end of a quotation will change every sentence:

    "I think you're an idiot," Jacob said.
    "Well, I never dated an underage girl, Jacob!" Matt shouted.
    "Alright, chill out," Jacob sighed.
    "Fine, but don't call me an idiot," breathed Matt.
    "Sorry," Jacob apologized remorsefully.
    "It's alright," Matt replied with a nod.


    Holy cow! It is not that it leaves nothing to the imagination, but because it is just bloody superfluous!

    Anyway, anybody have more pet peeves?
     
  2. Vayda
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    Vayda Senior Member

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    I'm guilty of that last one, well, kinda. I HATE reading passages like this:
    "I think you're an idiot" Jacob said.
    "Well I never dated an underage girl" Matt said.
    "chill, dude" Jacob said.
    "Fine, don't call me names" Matt said.
    "I'm sorry" said Jacob.
    "it's okay" Matt said.


    OH MY GOD. THERE ARE MORE WORDS.

    I've actually given up on books entirely because the author couldn't grab a thesaurus for a different word than "said" after using it twenty times in a single page. Call that my pet peeve. There are a thousand better ways to write something!!!

    Actually, 90% of the time I don't end dialogue with a "she said" bit. it'll be more like this:

    "How long have you known?" His eyes were narrow when he asked, like he already knew the answer.
    "Five days" Her reply was short, she turned away from him to face the door, but heard his chair slam down as he stood up with such force that it flew away from him.
    "Five days!? How come you didn't tell me!!"

    Yeah i just made that up. but you get the point.

    So call overused saids my pet peeve, hehe.
     
  3. AnonyMouse
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    AnonyMouse Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree with most of your post and am fortunate enough to find that I'm not guilty of any of them, but I can't help but mention that this one is really a matter of perspective:

    Simple logic tells me that I have to try before I can see the outcome; after I "try," I will "see" what happens. Therefore, the focus shouldn't be put on "trying to see," but on "trying to jump over that rock." For that reason, "why don't you try," seems like a good question to ask in this situation and "see if you can jump over that rock" is just a nice bonus you get from answering that question.

    Put them together and you get: "Why don't you try and see if you can jump over that rock?" Seeing comes with trying.
    You can also look at it as a combination of "try to jump over that rock" and "see if you can jump over that rock," if that makes more sense.

    Personally, I've never understood why "to" goes there. I really can't wrap my brain around the idea of trying to see if I can do something. I would try and then see what happens; they are two distinct actions, worthy of a conjunction. Maybe I'm just over-thinking this. It's 1AM and I shouldn't even be here.
     
  4. antius777
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    antius777 Member

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    I believe I agree with Vayda to some extent.

    While it's best to stick with "Said" in most cases, I feel an emotive writer WILL pepper their work with other words and phrases. That said, to exhaust the thesaurus simply to look educated is also lazy writing. What's the quote? "Show.. don't tell."

    I actually got into an argument on another site about the use of "sighed." Is it a speech modifier? I'm pretty sure that I've 'sighed' a sentence or two before. But what is its proper usage? Ultimately, I feel that fiction shouldn't be all that limited...
     
  5. Viamence
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    Viamence Member

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    I'm also prone to substituting 'said' for an alternative, but I'm equally irked by both extremes.

    If a rapid-fire dialogue is playing out, reducing the amount of extraneous description is my preferred method.

    If I'm placing dialogue between blocks of text, the opposite would apply.

    But that's just my style.
     
  6. dthomas
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    dthomas Member

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    Not that it's too much of a pet peeve, but when a dialogue like this one is going on, the author does not always have to put who said it at the end. Sometimes logically following the flow of dialogue means you dont need to put Jacob, then Matt, then Jacob...if they are talking in order you can just abbreviate to what they are actually saying. This makes the dialogue more conversational and quicker to read (which is good if the dialogue is especially nonessential, as it is in the above example).
     
  7. laciemn
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    laciemn Senior Member

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    Dialogue is tricky--I tend to use said by default unless I feel the character "bellowed" or "chirped." The problem is when the author actually avoids using said and forces other, awkward and distracting words in where they shouldn't be. Said is easy to skim over and doesn't take focus off the dialogue, while bellowed might make a reader be like, what?

    An extreme of either is destructive, but I think I'd rather read a million "saids" as long as its otherwise well-written rather than, "chided" "harped" "screamed" "cried" and all of that bollocks.
     
  8. laciemn
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    laciemn Senior Member

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    Agree, omitting said isn't hard, and you can simply comment on one of the characters' actions or expressions after the dialogue. But, of course, that can also get tedious if overdone.
     
  9. vyleside
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    vyleside Member

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    With regards to the over/under-use of "said," at the end of dialogue, if there's a quick exchange and there are only two people, I tend to omit, "He said/sighed/cried/whatever" entirely.
     
  10. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    I can't stand dialogue like:

    "Blah blah blah," he grinned.
    "Oh, but blah blah," she smiled.
    "Well, blah blah blah," he laughed.
    "Maybe blah," she giggled.

    The example seems extreme, but I've seen stuff nearly this bad in novels. It makes me think of two chimpanzees sitting opposite each other making faces and baring their teeth.
     
  11. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    Devil's Advocate time!
    There is a thread discussing "that". There is nothing technically wrong with "that," especially in dialogue, since the word can take different parts of speech. I mean, that is how we talk. Same goes for "try and say." That is how people talk, so it really isn't that horrible in dialogue or first-person narration, like in your examples.
     
  12. Gone Wishing
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    Gone Wishing Contributing Member

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    I have a few that I see here and there that irk me slightly, I suppose.

    Using then, when one should have used than.
    (I like ice cream more then chocolate is incorrect).

    Using continuously, when one meant continually.
    Continuously means constant, without pause or interruption. Continually means consistently, at regular intervals.

    Loose, when one means lose.
    Loose means slack, not tight-fitting, lose refers to loss, being unabe to retain possession of something.

    And the phrase 'a myriad of'.
    In simple terms, myriad means 'a lot of', so it's tantamount to saying 'a a lot of of'.
    The artist had myriad colours to choose from is correct. (It would be exactly the same as saying The artist had countless colours to choose from).
     
  13. CDRW
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    CDRW Contributing Member Contributor

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    I hate when "literally" is used as emphasis instead of it's correct usage.

    "She literally dropped dead from embarassement."

    Really? That would be something to see.
     
  14. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Not as facinating as, "He literally blew his top."

    This isn't so much a writing gaffe, but I was fascinated this morning by a lawyer interviewed on a news program. He kept prefacing comments with "Frankly, ..." Those were the comments I most felt he was stretching credibility with. It was his "tell", so I filed it for possible use in dialogue
     
  15. CDRW
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    CDRW Contributing Member Contributor

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    Also, whenever someone says "I don't mean to be rude but..." it is invariable that they do in fact intend to be rude.
     
  16. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    sounds like a nonsensical claim to me, since there are many ways/places the word is needed, and i've actually read and written them... such as:

    'he passed the shop on his way to the bank'
    'she passed me in the hall'
    'time passed all too slowly'
     
  17. Kas
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    Kas Contributing Member

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    I would have to agree. I'm sure I've seen "passed" many times before and I have used it as well.

    But as long as we're throwing annoying words and phrases out there...

    "At this point in time" really annoys me. Just say "at this point" or "at this time". What are you, Chronos? Anyone who wants to use this phrase better show me an hourglass that stops time.

    "Irregardless" - wouldn't be so annoying if not for the endless hordes who render the word incomprehensible. What really bothers me is that I've seen aspiring authors use "regardless" this way. Well, really. If you can't speak english you're probably screwed.

    Incorrect use of strange words like "lucifugous". Beware the dictionary! Even if this one isn't in websters most people have google. It is surprising how many published authors don't know how to wield their mighty vocabulary. I started reading Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time when I was 8 or 9 years old and I got used to looking things up.:rolleyes:

    "How are you?"
    "I'm good!"
    Well, that's nice to know, but I didn't ask if you've been naughty.
     
  18. laciemn
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    laciemn Senior Member

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    For the passed past thing...one time I went to my English teacher with what I believed to be a mistake in my text book. It meant passed as in passed out, passed by, etc...but it said past, as in blast from the past. My English teacher said that she thought I was right, but didn't give my an answer as to why the book was that way, so I had no idea what was actually correct.

    I tend to disregard the incorrect usage because it is so common, although if I'm writing I write passed.

    I think it is so annoying when people have a lot of unnecessary words and phrases that clutter the writing. I know a lot of people write like they think or talk, but I think some editing should be done to take out the useless.

    I catch myself overusing these phrases "actually," "rather," "quite," and "a bit," and it annoys me so much. It usually adds very little and simply distracts.

    Also, "and then." I also hate hate hate when people have the character thinking about something, and then doing it. Why ruin the surprise with the character thinking instead of acting?
     
  19. Vayda
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    Vayda Senior Member

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    On the said vs. not debate, I've posted a lot of writing to several forums - and as a general rule i DO NOT use the word "said" in my writing, at least not following dialogue. (I might use it in the context of "Soandso had said earlier they would...") and not a single reviewer or critic has EVER commented on it.

    So i'll be content to assume i do it well and no one is the wiser :)
     
  20. Mercurial
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    Mercurial Contributing Member Contributor

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    I take after you in the sense that I often dont use verbs at all that refer to the quote that was written; I just add more imagery or action directly following, but I do differ with you on the word "said."

    "Said" is an invisible word, and on the rare occasion I do use verbs that refer to the quote in relation to, I (almost) always use "said." I feel that using other words tends to distract from the dialogue. If the dialogue is well-written, the reader shouldnt need cues such as shouted, whispered, cried, or any other similar word in order to understand the manner in which it was spoken --or I believe it should be up to the reader. That idea stems from seeing movies that were adapted from novels; it ruins my interpretation!

    At the same time, I do hate it when an author concludes every phrase with "said," as you pointed out. If that's the case, the invisible word becomes irritatingly visible! :p

    I'd much prefer it to be written like this:
    "I think you're an idiot," Jacob said.
    "Well, I never dated an underage girl," Matt mumbled, avoiding his colleague's disgusted gaze.
    "Chill, dude."
    "Fine, don't call me names."
    "I'm sorry."
    "It's okay," Matt said, wishing he hadnt brought up the topic in the first place.

    ----

    To put my original pet peeve into the thread, I think one of the worst things a writer can do is use...
    Grammatical Gadgets and Goofy Gimmicks!!!!
    Such as alliteration or an atrocious and disrespectful misuse of punctuation. :mad:
     
  21. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    It's a balance you need to strike. Putting a tag on every line of dialogue becomes noticeable, and that's intrusive. But if you use too few, a reader can get lost as to who is speaking at any particular moment, especially when the dialogue is not trivial chatter.

    For that matter, trivial chatter should be avoided anyway, unless it highlights subtext.
     
  22. antius777
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    antius777 Member

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    Hmmm, I honestly did not know that. Interesting. Well, that makes ME guilty of that one. Awesome, I learned something today!!!
     
  23. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    from kas...

    'irregardless' is nothing more than a 'nonstandard' version of 'regardless'... thus, they both mean exactly the same thing and can/should be used in exactly the same way, if use it one must...

    read it and weep, all you hapless 'screwed' ones:

     
  24. HKB
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    HKB Contributing Member

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    I hate the word mused, "blah blah, he mused". Especially when used repeatedly. It crazy annoys me.
     
  25. Kas
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    Kas Contributing Member

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    Maia,

    "Ir" is a negative prefix, so adding this to a word generally means "not". The word "irregardless" means "not regardless" or 'without without regard", which is the opposite of what you want to say.

    Listing a word as "nonstandard" is just a way for dictionaries to provide a definition for common nonsense, such as "ain't". If enough people started saying "fudderdundee", American dictionaries would surely list it. But it would probably be best to avoid using it in your writing.

    As far as I can tell, after some googling on the subject, there are only three dictionaries that list irregardless (as gibberish, or more politely, "nonstandard): Meriam Webster, Oxford English and American Heritage. Thankfully, I'm Canadian, so I can happily ignore all three.

    I have seen many of your posts and I have the utmost respect for your knowledge of SPaG, and for you as a person. But just because a nonsensical word becomes popular doesn't mean writers should participate. By all means, use this junk in character dialects, but not in serious writing... If writers don't keep the english language intelligible, who will? My two cents and worthless opinion.:p
     

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