Tuesday, June 05, 2007

From Bill Bryson's Dictionary of Troublesome Words 9 (Commonplace Book)

Substitute should only be followed by for. You substitute one thing for another. If you find yourself following the word with by or with or anything else, get another verb.

Successfully often creeps unnecessarily into sentences, for example "scientists have successfully developed a semi-conductor chip small enough to fit in an iPod." They could hardly have unsuccessfully developed one.

Thinking to himself. You cannot think to anyone else, so you should just write thinking. Also redundant is the phrase "in my mind" when you use it in a sentence like "I could picture in my mind where it was."

At this moment in time. Replace with now.

To all intents and purposes is a tautology. Use to all intents.

Total. Two things to note here. 1. Total is often used redundantly to qualify something already total, such as total annihilation. 2. Total of is common but often useless: a total of six houses should just be six houses.

Translucent is often wrongly used as a synonym for transparent. Translucent material is one through which light passes but images cannot be clearly seen, as with frosted glass.

True facts. Redundant.

Turbid, turgid. Turgid means inflated, grandiloquent, bombastic. It does not mean muddy or impenetrable, which meanings are covered by turbid.

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