Welcome to the website woven for wordaholics, logolepts, and verbivores. Carnivores eat meat; herbivores eat plants and vegetables; verbivores devour words. If you are heels over head (as well as head over heels) in love with words, tarry here a while to graze or, perhaps, feast on the English language. Ours is the only language in which you drive in a parkway and park in a driveway and your nose can run and your feet can smell.

 

DEAR RICHARD LEDERER: I wonder if you might write something about the two verbs bring and take? There is a dreadful trend at the moment to use bring for everything. It seems that almost every TV show, especially sitcoms, constantly use the words incorrectly: ‘Did you bring Charles to the station?” “Did you bring it with you when you went to the show?” I even hear supposedly educated people like Judge Judy use bring when she means take and it sounds so jarring.

You bring things to where you are, and you take them somewhere else — not a difficult concept to grasp I think. Just another of life’s little annoyances. -David Blakey, Fallbrook

As David Blakey points out, bring indicates motion toward the speaker and take indicates motion away from the speaker. We bring in the newspaper; we take out the trash: “Take this note to Valdez, and bring me his answer this afternoon.”

Which request would parents be more likely to make of their children?: “Take the stray dog home” or “Bring the stray dog home.” Moms and dads would probably prefer that the street mutt travel in a direction away from their home. Hence, they would be more likely to make the first request. 

*****

DEAR RICHARD LEDERER: It seems lately I’m seeing more commercials with glaring grammatical errors. The latest is for Claritin Allergy Relief where the announcer concludes with “Because life should have more wishes and less worries.” It always irks me. -Elisabeth Lenderman, Carmel Mountain Ranch

 We see them everywhere — the plague of plaques in supermarket express lines that say, “8 Items or Less.” They should read, “8 Items or Fewer.”

Less means “not so much” and refers to amount or quantity. Fewer means “not so many” and refers to number, things that are countable — “less food” but “fewer cookies”; “less nutrition” but (no matter what those over-the-hill jocks say on the Miller Lite commercials) “fewer calories.” With those omnipresent supermarket signs and with those contests asking for responses in “25 words or less,” when will we ever learn?

Please note, gentle reader, the related confusion between the nouns number and amount, as in “A great amount of San Diegans read the Union-Tribune.” Like fewer, use number to refer to persons or things that can be counted. Like less, use amount to refer to quantities. Number tells how many; amount tells how much.

*****

DEAR RICHARD LEDERER: To me, as an immigrant from Germany, when people say, “This is between my husband and I,” I want to scream. After between shouldn’t it be me (dative, zwischen)? –Helga Muller, Carmel Valley

Absolutely, Helga. The phrase should be “between you and me” because the pronouns are objects of the preposition between. The mistake you point out is called hypercorrection and arises from a fear that somehow me sounds uneducated.

*****

DEAR RICHARD LEDERER: One question keeps coming up for me: What is the correct usage of a couple when referring to two of anything? Is it “a couple days” or “a couple of days? I was asked to proofread a novel written by an old friend, and she continually used couple without of, which bugged the heck out of me. And she refused to change it, adding to my irritation factor! I need to let this go! Help! -Valerie Swink, Encinitas

The word couple is traditionally a noun, and, as such, it requires a preposition to link to another noun, as in “a couple of miles” or ” a couple of red peppers.” Couple used as an adjective directly before a noun is unidiomatic and clumsy. Your friend should have heeded your advice.

*****

DEAR RICHARD LEDERER: What is the appropriate greeting on Memorial Day? “Happy Memorial Day”? “Sad Memorial Day”? What? Similarly, what is the appropriate greeting for Yom Kippur? “Happy Yom Kippur”? I generally say “Shana tova!” or “Gut yuntif” but I’m never confident in saying either on that holiday. -Howard Rubenstein, UTC

President Trump was recently criticized for tweeting “Happy Memorial Day,” and many of us have grappled with the challenge of wishing others well on holidays that are not happy: For Yom Kippur, the day of repentance. (and some other religious holidays), I suggest “Have a blessed Yom Kippur”; “I wish you peace on Yom Kippur.” For Memorial Day (and other somber holidays), I suggest “Have a good Memorial Day weekend.”

I invite readers to send me their solutions..