The Write Word? Post 6

Word cloud formed via

Do you sometimes struggle to find the ‘right’ word for your writing? I know I do. Perhaps, in improving myself, I can help other writers.

Today’s words: Final Ultimatum, Alternatives, Zeugma,

Redundancies: words serving no purpose. In speech, they’re spacers, giving the speaker time to think. But in writing they slow the reader’s progress.

Final ultimatum: an ultimatum is the final point, the extreme limit, an ultimate end or aim, so the addition of ‘final’ makes the usage a tautology. ‘Ultimatum’ stands happily on its own without need of support.

Words often misused: English, because of its inheritance of words stolen from many languages, often uses words that superficially appear to mean more or less the same thing. However, as wordsmiths, we owe it to our readers to get it right, don’t you think?

Alternatives: often used incorrectly to indicate ‘choices’. When there are two choices, they are ‘alternatives’. When more than two, they become choices. Now we have that torturer of the English language, Donald Trump, falsehoods and lies have become known by some as ‘alternative facts’.

Figure of Speech:

Zeugma: A figure in which a word refers to more than one other word in the same sentence.

‘She drank wine; I tea.’ (here, ‘drank’ applies to both ‘she’ and ‘I’ in the same way.)

‘He drove through the night, she through the day.’ (a prozeugma: the controlling verb appears in the first clause).

‘As he to her, you belong to me.’ (a hypozeugma: the verb appears in the last clause. This is not an easy structure to create effectively.)

I started the series on figures of speech in the earlier posts, which you can search for under ‘Looking for the Best Word?’ if this interests you. In these newer posts, I’ve continued to the end of the alphabetical list I started with. This is the last example.

Language learners might find this link useful for pronunciation, and you’ll reach a great group page on Facebook if you click this link.

I contribute a monthly column to an online magazine, Pandora’s Box Gazette where I also deal with the use of words. To see the most recent, please click this link.

Your observations and suggestions are welcome in the comments section below. And, if you’ve enjoyed this post, why not use the buttons to share it with your friends? Thank you.