English tips: Me coulda had fish breath if my point wasn’t muted

Communicate for Success—English Tips, Vol. 4

Communicate for Success word cloud taken from Consistent Voice Communication's web home page and created with tagxedo.comToday’s selections reflect my roots in the Long Island suburbs of New York City. It’s clearly a moot point that I coulda done a lot more fishing if Latin homework didn’t get in the way. Except I studied Spanish. And not very well. But here are five more tips to help you to write and speak English well. Yo!

Coulda, woulda, shoulda—I admit it. I use this phrase a lot. It’s a shortening of “Could of, would of, should of,” which is so grammatically incorrect as to make my skin crawl. So I’m trying to reform and say, “Could’ve, would’ve, should’ve.” That’s how big a dork I really am.

Fish breath—Do you wait with baited breath? If so, brush your teeth. The correct expression is bated breath. Bated as in restrained. You restrain, or hold, your breath in anticipation. You have baited breath when you want to avoid intimacy.

Mute your moot point—A moot point is one that is debatable or of no consequence. A mute point is silent. Therefore, no one knows it’s there.

i.e. vs e.g.—i.e. and e.g. are both Latin. But you speak English. So remember that e.g. means “for example,” and is followed by a list, e.g. a noun, a verb, and an apostrophe. i.e. means “that is to say,” and is followed by a description, i.e. to put it another way. An easy way to remember e.g. is to pronounce it as “egg” as in “eggsamble.” Remember i.e. by thinking of it meaning “in essence.”

Me and I—“Me” and “I” are often confused in compound subjects and objects. Is it “Charlie called to Mary, Louise, and me”? or “Charlie called to Mary, Louise, and I”? Take out Mary and Louise and the correct usage is clear.

More to come. Be sure to follow my blog so you don’t miss any. Have a question about the English language? Ask it in the comments section below.

Previous English tips

Tom Pfeifer is the managing partner and chief strategist for Consistent Voice Communications. Reach him at Tom@YourConsistentVoice.com.


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