Back in the day, common graduation gifts for high school students were their own print copies of a good collegiate dictionary and Roget’s Thesaurus to take to college with them.
Because I knew so many phonetic spellers, I frequently gave copies of 35,000 Commonly Misspelled Words, which included brief definitions for various versions of homonyms (words that sound the same and are spelled differently). It was small enough to fit in a pocket and carry with you, not just use in your room. It would list words by their most common misspelling and then show how to spell the word correctly. I can no longer find this title on the Amazon or Barnes and Noble websites, but there are similar books available with fewer words in them.
These days, many people depend on the spell checker in their word processing program. This will catch most words that are actually misspelled but will miss most homonyms, because they look only at the letters and not the context of your writing. Sometimes a grammar checker will catch it when you use your for you’re or write for right, but not always.
The reference book I use most frequently these days myself is an online thesaurus. I find myself getting into a rut of using the same word repeatedly in an article I am writing. Sometimes this is okay, yet frequently it is easier to keep my reader involved when I use different ways of expressing myself. It is more interesting and, since most words have slight differences in meaning, can help my reader to understand more fully the concept I want to present.
Our cat Tuxedo is often a good example of how to draw attention to one’s needs. When he is hungry early in the morning, he joins us on the bed, walks up and down our bodies, and whispers (not) in our ears with a specific meow to let us know he is
He uses several methods to attract our
- walking up and down our bodies (ten pounds can feel heavy at 5 am)
- whispering (actually he’s pretty loud) in our ears
- with a specific (distinctive) meow
These types of reference books are most useful as print books or as an online resource, such as www.merriam-webster.com, www.thesaurus.com or www.dictionary.com. Electronic copies, such as for Kindle or Nook readers, are much more difficult to use for these purposes since typically you have to start with ‘a’ every time rather than being able to quickly flip to the ‘h’s.
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Got questions about word usage or reference materials? Let’s chat. Just give me a call at 843-593-0045 or click here to schedule an appointment.