This day 2 years ago, I woke up in Venice.

It was the last day of my trip to Europe.

(By the way, the view from my dorm’s window was spectacular)


I made the trip largely on my own, bar for 3 weeks in Prato, Italy where I had a class and Paris where I was accompanied by 2 good friends.

But the rest of the trip, I was alone. And I have to say that I enjoyed the experience.

More often than not, I prefer to to associate or socialise with others. I guess that makes me a loner by a definition.

Being a loner feels wrong sometimes. Because humans are fundamentally social animals. We require interaction with other members of the species. It’s not even materialistic, as I believe our need of interaction is purely psychological. Social invisibility is frowned upon and often stigmatised.


One very illustrative example will be eating out.

What it means to be a loner Perks of being a loner Things that are not so great Sometimes, it still happens when I step into a restaurant and signal a table for one. The waiter/waitress suddenly looks quite amused AND bemused. Who is this guy? Why is he dining alone? Has he no friends? What’s wrong with him? Well guess what. There’s nothing wrong with me. There are days when I just like to have dinner in silence, without the need for conversation. I can spend that time appreciating the food, thinking about what I am going to write next (like this one) or observing other patrons (which is fun. You should try it more often). It is the period of time when I deliberately refuse interaction with human beings other than whoever’s waiting my table. I am going so far as to claim that not having company at all is much, much better than having the wrong company. And I have had my fair share of wrong company, you can believe me. I need my pensive moment desperately, and that simply cannot be achieved in the presence of another person.


Being a loner is fun, as you have the time to realise a lot of interesting things. During my brief stay in Prato, I used to go to my favourite gelateria (that’s “ice cream parlour” for the uninitiated) and had gelato alone. As it was winter in Europe at the time, there was frequent rain, which made it even better (having gelato when it’s cold outside is one of the best feelings we ever get to experience, I can assure you).


Orange + Tiramisu, 2 scoops for 3 euros. Noiceeeeee!

Once, I saw a mother with a young child who came in during the downpour. The boy was around 7-8 and he looked very excited. He told his Mom something along the line of “Hey Mum, we were lucky that it rained. I was feeling a bit warm! Now we can have ice cream!” (that’s the gist, my Italian was rubbish back then and it is still rubbish now). He seemed to have genuinely liked the rain. Another time, a young lad came into the gelateria with a heavy, agitated look on his face. I overheard him mutter something about the damned rain.

That’s when I learned life is just like rain: it is what it is, but the choice of how to react is yours alone.

However, of course being a loner has its own drawbacks. In social situations that demand interpersonal interaction, I am extremely uncomfortable and often screw things up. I lack both the experience and the will to communicate with another person/other persons. I also miss out on many group activities, which indeed looked fun. Being too comfortable on one’s own does have that effect of self-isolation.

And of course, there is the occasional loneliness. I can’t help but feel it. I feel the need to talk to other people but since my options are severely limited, most of the times I just keep to my own. Only so naturally, negative thoughts creep upon the mind.

But overall though, I’d say being a loner has been good so far. I got the time to inspect myself as well as others. I don’t have to suffer terrible company during mealtimes. I don’t have to put up with people I don’t like.

Of course, the downsides are not absent.

But as long as I get to finish the dessert all by my self, I’ll A-OK.


Nice tower the French got there

Gonna break convention and write about DELIBERATE PRACTICE next week. Watch out!

Every week, I take one word and write my thoughts on it. You can suggest a word in the comments below and it’ll appear on this blog some day, I promised!


Word of the Week #4: sex

Posted: January 30, 2017 in Word of the Week
Tags: , , ,


It seems oddly appropriate to write about sex in the first days of the Year of the Cock (hehe!)

So, sex. One of the oldest topics to write about. It’s been with man since the dawn of human history because, well, sex is our means of reproduction.

I should preface that my sexual experience is inanely limited, so if you’re here for the marveling and captivating stories of my sexual adventures, you’re going back with disappointment. Nonetheless, since it’s holiday season and you have nothing better to do, you will read on (might as well right?).

From where I see it, the place sex occupies in society is peculiarly paradoxical. On the one hand, sex seems to permeate almost all aspects of life, both private and social. It appears in a plethora of channels, from entertainment to commerce to literary works. Either explicitly displayed or implied by innuendos (I made one at the beginning of this piece), sex is arguably one of the central themes of human activity, especially in the modern world. One only need to turn on the TV to see sexuality being flaunted in product advertisement. Sex sells, because it panders to our instincts and dominates our psyche. And we heartily embrace it.

However, when the time comes to treat sex seriously, the response is often disappointing. We joke about sex too much we can’t treat the subject with thoughtful consideration. Sex education programmes in school are severely inadequate. Instead of things like protection, consent and emotional maturity, students are taught anatomy.

Sex Education Class - "Today in class I'll be explaining where your babies come from."


Support sources outside school are also severely limited. Parents are of little help,as I am sure the vast majority of you know how awkward “the talk” can be. Sometimes there is no talk at all as the parents can’t stand the awkwardness and turn down the opportunity to teach their children very useful and important knowledge. Thus, students are left to consult Google on their free time. Things start to go wrong rather quick from here when we are reminded that these teenagers’ hormones AND curiosity are through the roof. The Internet is a wonderful place, but it can also be a horrible one.


Ironically, we indulge in highly sexualised thoughts and materials, yet we issue judgement to those we consider sexual. Derogatory terms such as “slut” or “whore” are often used to describe the sexually deviant, but what does even “sexually deviant” mean? Does it mean having more than one sexual partners? Is that so deviant from the cultural norm? I am not talking about people who are already in a relationship, for I do believe in fidelity and monogamy. This is for people who engage in casual sex, i.e. friend with benefits and the likes. I feel that condemning these people as sexually deviant is, for the lack of a better word, icky. Just doesn’t feel right to put a label with heavy negative connotation on something that’s supposed to be neutral. This applies primarily to ladies (which, in my opinion is unjust). If you are a gal who happens to like having sex with different people and the gossipy folks somehow catch wind of this, you’re fucked, and not in a good way.

I think the situation will improve when we recognise sex for what it is: a biological need, simple as that. One’s appetite for sex may be high or low. Just like that for food. If the person does not cause harm for others when seeking to fulfill this need, we should just let them be. The individual should be accorded the liberty to engage in coitus with whomever they wish, free from the righteous condemnation of other people. If you like to try out new restaurants every week, it is rather hypocritical to critise other people for having numerous sexual partners. And similar to teaching children (and adults!) about food safety, it is important to teach them about sex safety as well. The conversation on sex needs to be opened under the guidance of open-minded and non-judgemental folks. Destigmatise sex, normalise it. Then perhaps it will become less worrying and we can devote our time and energy to worrying about something else.

Over-hyped but under-discussed, sex, in my opinion, is not getting the treatment it rightly deserves. It is hard to imagine something so central, so pervasive in our lives whose sombre discussion is often avoided. But anyways, I hope things will take a more positive turn in the near future.

That’s probably enough for now. Enjoy the rest of Lunar New Year people!

Peace out.

P.S: Next week’s word is “loner” (I dig this one!)

Every week, I take one word and write my thoughts on it. You can suggest a word in the comments below and it’ll appear on this blog some day, I promised!


I like booze.

If you’re acquainted with myself, that shouldn’t come as a surprise. Among different types of alcoholic beverage, this is probably my favourite:


The bitterness. The warmth. The aroma. Everything hits just right.


I don’t like beer because it fills my stomach way too quick; I don’t like hard liquor because the alcohol knocks me out way too quick. Wine is perfect for me. Also my birthday is 15 Feb. I can send you my shipping address. But I digressed (or did I?).

Different from many Vietnamese compatriots, I started drinking quite late into my life, when I was 21 or so. Before university, I never knew my limit as I had only drunk 1 can of beer maximum every time there was an occasion to drink. At one point, I even had serious doubts whether I could hold my liquor. Boy, were my doubts unfounded.

I think booze is an excellent social lubricant. It helps me open up and eases the conversation. Something to do with the chemistry and substances, but I believe the effect is very commonly known.

I have had drinks in a pub only once or twice, and decided that I didn’t like it. Mainly because I was/am too poor to afford them drinks LOL. But it’s also because I don’t quite like the idea of consuming alcohol in a public place (even if that place is a pub!). What if I get drunk and do something embarrassing/endangering?

Instead, I like having drinks with my favourite group of people. People who can actually hold their end of the conversation. The more drunk we get, the better the conversation becomes. That’s what I drink for, really. Stories, insights, advice and most important of all, friendship.

I suppose all have stories of those wild nights when we get hammered and wasted and fucked up with alcohol. Mine are relatively more gentle and uneventful.

There was one time when four of us started drinking wine at around 9PM. We finished 4-5 bottles at 2 in the morning and ran out of booze. Feeling extra frisky, we turned to these


And drank 1 litre of milk with these flavoured straws. It was the first time I tried those. Mind-blowing, to say the least. I’ve since bought the straws as gifts for my nephews. But anyways, we then ran out of milk. So naturally, we made tea. At this point, the alcohol started wearing off, which was fortunate because we were about to take in a f***load of caffeine. Because sane and sober people put this much tea leaves when they make tea:



But my dear friend, who was in hindsight not very sober, put this much


I shit you not, that’s what it looked like. But then again, the rest of us weren’t so sober as well, since we said nothing in protest and drank the tea. That’s pretty much my definition of a wild night (told you it’s relatively less eventful).

On another point, I don’t quite like binge drinking. First, you’re fucking up your body. Consuming a large amount of alcohol in a short period of time is damaging to one’s health, especially the liver. Second, what’s the point of getting wasted so quickly and so senselessly? You

Of course, you will point out that I am contradicting myself since the story above shows that I indulge in binge drinking. So today is also the day you learn that I am a self-proclaimed hypocrite. Yes, I do drink a considerable amount of alcohol, but that happens very infrequently. Which brings me to my next point.

I also dislike very much the idea of getting drunk too frequently. Of course frequency is subjective, but you get what I mean. While booze provides a great route of escape and source of distraction, indulging in frequent drinking isn’t productive at all. For booze to be an escape, I need to have involved in something and thus incurred the want to escape that very thing. If you get drunk every single day of the week, perhaps it’s the booze that you need to escape.

Another point (big point as well): Vietnam’s “force” drinking culture disgusts me. For those who don’t know, we Vietnamese really like to force each other to drink as much as we can. “Force” sounds rather violent, we actually rely on words, social superiority and peer pressure to do that. But yeah, I’ve never got the rationale either. If you love booze so much, why don’t you drink all the booze? Or do you actually take joy in seeing the other guy get wasted? That’s really sick and disgusting. Anyway, if you refuse the drink (especially if it’s from somebody who’s older than you), you’re gonna get called names and your manhood is gonna get assessed really harsh. Yeah, I’ve never understood the rationale either. If the guy doesn’t want a drink, just leave him the fuck alone and enjoy yours. What the fuck?

I brought up the point above because Lunar New Year is coming, and I am gonna get forced to drink almost for certain. So I am gonna buckle up and wipe the floor with whatever dimwit that insists I drink after I’ve refused once. But seriously, drink responsibly guys, especially in this festive season. And if you don’t genuinely enjoy drinking, just don’t drink – you are the master of your own will. And if you have been “forcing” people to drink, stop that shit. Don’t be a dick.

Peace out.

Oh, and next week’s word is sex. Yummy.


Disclaimer: This list is taken in its entirety from the book Word Study and English Grammar: A Primer of Information about Words, Their Relations and Their Uses authored by Frederick W. Hamilton. It was published in 1918 and thus s0me rules might have changed, so it should be read with caution. Nonetheless, I still find it extremely informative and educative. I have boldened sections I consider relevant and useful. My own comments are put in parentheses. 


The following pages contain a short list of the more common errors in the use of words. Such a list might be extended almost indefinitely. It is only attempted to call attention to such mistakes as are, for various reasons, most liable to occur.

A should be repeated for every individual. “A red and black book” means one book, “a red and a black book” means two.

Abbreviate, and abridgeabbreviation is the shortening of a piece of writing no matter how accomplished. An abridgement is a condensation.

Ability, power to do something, should be distinguished from capacity, power to receive something. (Very useful)

Above should not be used as an adjective, e. g., “The statement made in above paragraph.” Substitute preceding, foregoing, or some similar adjective.

Accept, not accept of.

Accredit, to give one credentials should be distinguished from credit, to believe what one says.

Administer is often misused. One administers a dose of medicine, the laws, an oath, or the government; one does not administer a blow.

Administer to is often incorrectly used for minister to, e. g., “The red cross nurse administers to the wounded.”

Admire should not be used to express delight, as in the phrase “I should admire to do so.”

Admit should be distinguished from confess.

Advent should be distinguished from arrivaladvent meaning an epoch-making arrival.

Affable means “easy to speak to” and should not be confused with agreeable

Affect should be distinguished from effect. To affect is to influence; to effect is to cause or bring about. (Very important)

Aggravate should not be used for annoy or vex or provoke. It means “to make worse.”

Ain’t is a corruption of am not. It is inelegant though grammatical to say I ain’t but absolutely incorrect in other persons and numbers. (That ain’t stopping me from using it incorrectly though)

Alike should not be accompanied by both as in the phrase “They are both alike in this respect.”

All, All right should never be written alrightAll and universally should never be used together. All should not be accompanied by of, e. g., “He received all of the votes.” Be careful about the use of all in negative statements. Do not say “All present are not printers” when you mean “Not all present are printers.” The first statement means there are no printers present, the second means there are some printers present.

Allege is a common error for say, state, and the like. It means “to declare,” “to affirm,” or “to assert with the idea of positiveness” and is not applicable to ordinary statements not needing emphasis.

Allow means permit, never think or admit.

Allude to is not the same as mention. A person or thing alluded to is not mentioned but indirectly implied.

Alone which means unaccompanied should be distinguished from only which means no other.

Alternative should never be used in speaking of more than two things.

Altogether is not the same as all together.

Among should not be used with one another, e. g., “They divided the spoil among one another.” It should be “among themselves.”

And should not be placed before a relative pronoun in such a position as to interfere with the construction. It should not be substituted for to in such cases as “Try and take more exercise.”

And which should not be used for which.

Another should be followed by than not from, e. g., “Men of another temper from (than) the Greeks.”

Answer is that which is given to a question; reply to an assertion. (Great to know!)

Anticipate should not be used in the sense of expect. It means “to forestall.”

Anxious should not be confused with desirous. It means “feeling anxiety.”

Any is liable to ambiguity unless it is used with care. “Any of them” may be either singular or plural. “It is not intended for any machine” may mean “There is no machine for which it is intended,” or “It is not intended for every machine, but only for a special type.”

Anybody else’s, idiomatic and correct.

Anyhow, bad, do not use it.

Apparently is used of what seems to be real but may not be so. It should not be confused with evidently which is used of what both seems to be and is real.

Appear is physical in its meaning and should be distinguished from seem which expresses a mental experience. “The forest appears to be impenetrable,” “This does not seem to me to be right.” (I think the rule might have relaxed a bit in the modern context)

Apt means “skilful” and should never be used in place of likely or liable. It also means “having a natural tendency.”

As should not be used as a causal conjunction, e. g., “Do not expect me as I am too uncertain of my time.” The word as stands here as a contraction of inasmuch. Substitute a semicolon, or make two sentences.

As to is redundant in such expressions as “As to how far we can trust him I cannot say.”

At is often incorrectly used for in, e. g., “He lives at Chicago.” It is also improperly used in such expressions as “Where is he at?”

As that should not be used for that alone. Do not say “So as that such and such a thing may happen.”

Audience is not the same as spectators. An audience listens; spectators merely see. A concert has an audience; a moving picture show has spectators.

Aught means “anything” and should not be confused with naught or the symbol 0 which means “nothing.”

Avenge means to redress wrongs done to others; revenge wrong done to ourselves. Avenge usually implies just retribution. Revenge may be used of malicious retaliation. (The Avengers finally starts to make sense)

Avocation should not be confused with vocation. A man’s vocation is his principal occupation. His avocation is his secondary occupation.

Aware is not the same as conscious. We are aware of things outside of ourselves; we are conscious of sensations or things within ourselves. (Okay!)

Awful and awfully are two very much abused words. They mean “awe inspiring” and should never be used in any other sense. (This is rather archaic so don’t adhere to it)

Badly should not be used for very much. It should not be confused with the adjective bad. “He looks badly” means he makes a bad use of his eyes, say “He looks bad.”

Bank on is slang. Say rely on or trust in.

Beg is often incorrectly used in the sense of beg leave, not “I beg to say” but “I beg leave to say.” (Archaic)

Beside, meaning “by the side of” should not be confused with besides meaning “in addition to.” (Fairly common mistake)

Between applies only to two persons or things.

Blame on as a verb should never be used.

Both, when both–and are used be sure they connect the right words, “He can both spell and punctuate” not “He both can spell and punctuate.” Do not use such expressions as “They both resemble each other.” Be careful to avoid confusion in the use of negative statements. Do not say “Both cannot go” when you mean that one can go.

Bound in the sense of determined is an Americanism and is better avoided. We say “he is bound to do it” meaning “he is determined to do it,” but the phrase really means “He is under bonds, or obligation to do it.”

Bring should be carefully distinguished from fetch, carry and take. Bring means to transfer toward the speaker. Fetch means to go and bring back. Carry and take mean to transfer from the speaker, e. g., “Bring a book home from the library.” “Fetch me a glass of water.” “Carry this proof to the proofreader.” “Take this book home.”

But is sometimes used as a preposition and when so used takes the objective case. “The boy stood on the burning deck whence all but him had fled.” But should not be used in connection with that unless intended to express the opposite of what the meaning would be without it, e. g., “I have no doubt but that he will die” is incorrect because his death is expected. “I have no fear but that he will come” is correct, as the meaning intended is “I am sure he will come.”

But what is often incorrectly used for but that. “I cannot believe but what he is guilty” probably means “I can but believe that he is guilty.” “I cannot but believe” means “I must believe.”(Archaic)

Calculate does not mean think or suppose.

Calculated does not mean likely. It means “intended or planned for the purpose.”

Can which indicates ability is to be distinguished from may which indicates permission.

Cannot but should be carefully distinguished from can but, e. g., “I can but try” means “All I can do is try.” “I cannot but try” means “I cannot help trying.”

Can’t seem should not be used for seem unable, e. g., “I can’t seem to see it.”

Childlike should be carefully distinguished from childish. Childish refers particularly to the weakness of the child.(Fairly basic but commonly encountered)

Come should not be confused with go. Come denotes motion toward the speaker; go motion from the speaker, “If you will come to see me, I will go to see you.”

Common should be distinguished from mutual. Common means “shared in common.” Mutual means “reciprocal” and can refer to but two persons or things. A common friend is a friend two or more friends have in common. Mutual friendship is the friendship of two persons for each other.

Compare to, liken to, compare with, means “measure by” or “point out similarities and differences.”

Condign means “suitable” or “deserved,” not necessarily severe.

Condone means “to forgive” or “nullify by word or act,” not “make amends for.”

Consider in the sense of regard as should not usually be followed by as, e. g., “I consider him a wise man,” not “as a wise man.”

Contemptible is used of an object of contempt and it should be distinguished from contemptuous which is used of what is directed at such an object, e. g., “He is a contemptible fellow.” “I gave him a contemptuous look.”

Continual should not be confused with continuous. Continual means “frequently repeated.” Continuous means “uninterrupted.” (I like this!)

Convene, which means “to come together,” should not be confused with convoke which means “to bring or call together.” A legislature convenes. It cannot be convened by another, but it can be convoked.

Crime is often used for offenses against the speaker’s sense of right. Properly crime is a technical word meaning “offenses against law.” A most innocent action may be a crime if it is contrary to a statute. The most sinful, cruel, or dishonest action is no crime unless prohibited by a statute.

Dangerous should not be used for dangerously ill.

Data is plural.

Deadly, “that which inflicts death” should not be confused with deathly, “that which resembles death.”

Decided must not be confused with decisive. A decided victory is a clear and unmistakable victory. A decisive victory is one which decides the outcome of a war or of a campaign.

Decimate means to take away one-tenth. It is not properly used in a general way of the infliction of severe losses.

Definite which means “well defined” should not be confused with definitive which means “final.”

Demean is related to demeanor and means “behave.” It should be carefully distinguished from degrade or lower.

Die. We die of a certain disease, not with or from it.

Differ in the sense of disagree is followed by with. “I differ with you.” Differ as indicating unlikeness is followed by from.

Different should be followed by from never by with, than, or to.

Directly should not be used for as soon as.

Discover, “to find something which previously existed” should be distinguished from invent something for the first time.

Disinterested means “having no financial or material interest in a thing.” It should be carefully distinguished from uninterested which means “taking no interest in” a thing. (Another important piece of information)

Dispense, “to distribute” should not be confused with dispense with, “to do without.”

Disposition is not the same as disposal.

Distinguish which means “to perceive differences” should not be confused with differentiate which means “to make or constitute a difference.”

Divide should be carefully distinguished from distribute.

Don’t is a contraction of do not. Doesn’t is the contraction for does not. I don’t, they don’t, he doesn’t.

Due should not be used for owing to or because of.

Each is distributive and is always singular. Each other which is applicable to two only should not be confused with one another which is applicable to more than two.

Egotist, a man with a high or conceited opinion of himself, should not be confused with egoist which is the name for a believer in a certain philosophical doctrine. (I am a little bit of both fyi)

Either is distributive and therefore singular and should never be used of more than two.

Elegant denotes delicacy and refinement and should not be used as a term of general approval.

Else should be followed by than, not by but. “No one else than (not but) he could have done so much.”

Emigrant, one who goes out of a country should not be confused with immigrant, one who comes into a country.

Enormity is used of wickedness, cruelty, or horror, not of great size, for which enormousness should be used. We speak of the enormity of an offence but of the enormousness of a crowd.

Enthuse should not be used as a verb.

Equally as well; say equally well, or as well.

Every place used adverbially should be everywhere.

Except should never be used in the sense of unless or but.

Exceptional which means “unusual,” “forming an exception” should not be confused with exceptionable which means “open to objection.”

Expect which involves a sense of the future should not be confused with suppose and similar words, as in the phrase “I expect you know all about it.”

Factor is not to be confounded with cause.

Falsity applies to things, falseness to persons.

At fault means “at a loss of what to do next.” In fault means “in the wrong.”

Favor should not be used in the sense of resemble.

Female should not be used for woman. The words female, woman, and lady should be used with careful attention to their respective shades of meaning. (This guy gets it!)

Few, which emphasizes the fact that the number is small should be distinguished from a few which emphasizes the fact that there is a number though it be small. “Few shall part where many meet.” “A few persons were saved in the ark.”

Fewer applies to number; less to quantity.

Firstly should not be used for first although secondly and thirdly may be used to complete the series.

Fix should not be used in the sense of repair, arrange, or settle.

Former and latter should never be used where more than two things are involved.

Frequently should be distinguished from commonly, generally, perpetually, usually. Commonly is the antithesis of rarely, frequently of seldom, generally of occasionally, usually of casually.

Funny should not be used to mean strange or remarkable.

Gentleman Friend and Lady Friend are expressions which should be avoided, say “man or woman friend” or “man or woman of my acquaintance” or even “gentleman or lady of my acquaintance.”

Good should not be used in the sense of well. “I feel good.”

Got is said to be the most misused word in the language. The verb means to secure by effort and should be used only with this meaning, e. g., “I have got the contract.” Have got to indicate mere possession is objectionable. Mere possession is indicated by have alone. Another common mistake is the use of got to express obligation or constraint. “I have got to do it.”

Guess should not be used in the sense of think or imagine.

Handy should never be used to express nearness.

Hanged should be used to express the execution of a human being. Hung is the past participle in all other uses.

Hardly. “I can hardly see it,” not “I can’t hardly see it.”

Healthy which means “possessed of health” should be distinguished from healthful and wholesome which mean “health giving.”

High should not be confused with tall. (Tallness is the length of an object that it is typically upright. Height is a distance “above” an origin position or surface.)

Home is not a synonym for house. A beautiful house is a very different thing from a beautiful home.

Honorable as a title should always be preceded by the.

How should not be used for what, or for that. It means “in what manner.”

How that should not be used when either one will do alone. Such a sentence as “We have already noted how that Tillotson defied rubrical order….” is very bad.

If should not be used in the sense of where or that.

Ilk means “the same” not kind or sort.

Ill is an adverb as well as an adjective. Do not say illy.

In should not be used for into when motion is implied. You ride in a car but you get into it.

Inaugurate should not be used for begin.

Individual should not be used for person. (The difference is subtle though. A person is a human being that thinks and walks. An individual is a person in a crowd having unique characteristics.)

Inside of should not be used as an expression of time.

Invaluable, meaning “of very great value” should not be confused with valueless, meaning “of no value.” (Easy to get mixed up)

Invite should not be used for invitation.

Kind is not plural. Do not say “These” or “those” kind of things. Kind of should never be followed by the indefinite article. “What kind of man is he?” not “What kind of a man is he?” Kind of or sort of should not be used in the sense of rather or somewhat.

Kindly is often misused in such expressions as “You are kindly requested to recommend a compositor.” Undoubtedly the idea of kindness is attached to the recommendation not to the request and the sentence should be so framed as to express it.

Last is often misused for latest. “The last number of the paper” is not the one that appeared this morning but the one that finally closes publication.

Latter applies only to the last of two. If a longer series than two is referred to, say the last.

Lay, which is a transitive verb, should not be confused with lie. Lay is a verb which expresses causitive action; lie expresses passivity. “He lays plans.” “He lies down.” The past tense of lay is laid, that of lie is lay.

Learn should not be used in place of teach.

Lengthy is a very poor substitute for long, which needs no substitute.

Liable should not be used for likely. Liable means an unpleasant probability. Likely means any probability. Liable is also used to express obligation. He is liable for this debt.

Like must never be used in the sense of as. “Do like I do” should be “Do as I do.”

Literally implies that a statement to which it is attached is accurately and precisely true. It is frequently misused. (It is indeed!)

Loan is a noun, not a verb.

Locate should not be used in the sense of settle.

Lot or lots should not be used to indicate a great deal.

Love expresses affection or, in its biblical sense, earnest benevolence. Like expresses taste. Do not say “I should love to go.”

Lovely means “worthy of affection” and, like elegant, should never be used as a term of general approbation.

Luxuriant which means “superabundant in growth or production” should not be confounded with luxurious which means “given over to luxury.” Vegetation is luxuriant, men are luxurious.

Mad means insane and is not a synonym for angry.

Means may be either singular or plural.

Meet should not be used in the sense of meeting except in the case of a few special expressions such as “a race meet.”

Mighty should not be used in the sense of very.

Mind should not be used in the sense of obey.

Minus should not be used in the sense of without or lacking.

Most should not be used instead of almost, as in such expressions as “It rained most every day.”

Must should not be used for had to or was obliged. In its proper use it refers to the present or future only.

Necessities should be carefully distinguished from necessaries.

Negligence, which denotes a quality of character should be distinguished from neglect which means “a failure to act.”

Neither denotes one of two and should not be used for none or no one. As a correlative conjunction it should be followed by nor never by or.

New beginner. Beginner is enough; all beginners are new.

News is singular in construction.

Never is sometimes used as an emphatic negative but such usage is not good.

Nice should not be used in the sense of pleasant or agreeable.

No how should not be used for anyway.

No place should be written as nowhere.

None should be treated as a singular.

Not, like neither, must be followed by the correlative nor, e. g., “Not for wealth nor for fame did he strive.”

Not … but to express a negative is a double negative and therefore should not be used, e. g., “I have not had but one meal to-day.”

Nothing like and nowhere near should not be used for not nearly.

O should be used for the vocative and without punctuation.

Oh should be used for the ejaculation and should be followed by a comma or an exclamation point.

Obligate should not be used for oblige.

Observe should not be used for say.

Observation should not be used for observance.

Of is superfluous in such phrases as smell of, taste of, feel of.

Off should never be used with of; one or the other is superfluous.

Other. After no other use than, not but.

Ought must never be used in connection with had or did. “You hadn’t ought or didn’t ought to do it” should be “You ought not to have done it.”

Out loud should never be used for aloud.

Panacea is something that cures all diseases, not an effective remedy for one disease.

Partake of should not be used in the sense of eat. It means “to share with others.”

Party should never be used for person except in legal documents.

Per should be used in connection with other words of Latin form but not with English words. Per diem, per annum, and the like are correct. Per day or per year are incorrect. It should be a day, or a year.

Perpendicular, which merely means at right angles to something else mentioned, should not be used for vertical.

Plenty, a noun should not be confused with the adjective plentiful.

Politics is singular.

Post does not mean inform.

Predicate should not be used in the sense of predict or in the sense of base or found.

Premature means “before the proper time.” It should not be used in a general way as equivalent to false.

Pretty should not be used in the modifying sense, nor as a synonym for very in such phrases as “pretty good,” “pretty near,” and the like.

Preventative, no such word, say preventive.

Promise should not be used in the sense of assure.

Propose, meaning “to offer” should not be confused with purpose meaning “to intend.”

Proposition should not be confounded with proposal. A proposition is a statement of a statement or a plan. A proposal is the presentation or statement of an offer.

Providing should not be used for provided.

Quality should never be used as an adjective or with an adjective sense. “Quality clothes” is meaningless: “Clothes of quality” equally so. All clothes have quality and the expression has meaning only when the quality is defined as good, bad, high, low, and so forth. (Yup!)

Quit, “to go away from” is not the same as stop.

Quite means “entirely,” “wholly,” and should never be used in the modifying sense as if meaning rather or somewhat. “Quite a few” is nonsense.

Raise is a much abused word. It is never a noun. As a verb it should be distinguished from rear and increase, as in such phrases as “He was raised in Texas.” “The landlord raised my rent.”

Rarely ever should not be used for rarely or hardly ever.

Real should not be used in the sense of very.

Reference should be used with with rather than in. Say with reference to, not in reference to. The same rule applies to the words regard and respect. Do not say “in regards to,” say “with regard to.”

Remember is not the same as recollect, which means “to remember by an effort.”

Rendition should not be used for rendering.

Researcher has no standing as a word.

Reside in the sense of live, and residence in the sense of house or dwelling are affectations and should never be used.

Retire should not be used in the sense of “go to bed.”

Right should not be used in the sense of duty. “You had a right to warn me,” should be “It was your duty to warn me, or you ought to have warned me.” Right should not be used in the sense of very. Such expressions as right now, right off, right away, right here are not now in good use. (This has become quite relaxed now)

Same should not be used as a pronoun. This is a common usage in business correspondence but it is not good English and can be easily avoided without sacrificing either brevity or sense. Same as in the sense of just as, in the same manner should be avoided.

Score should not be used for achieve or accomplish.

Set should not be confused with sit. To set means “to cause to sit.”

Sewage, meaning the contents of a sewer, should not be confused with sewerage which means the system.

Show should not be used in the sense of play or performance.

Show up should not be used for expose.

Since should not be used for ago. Size up should not be used for estimate or weigh.

Some should not be used for somewhat as “I feel some better.”

Sort of should not be used for rather.

Splendid means shining or brilliant and should not be used as a term of general commendation.

Stand for means “be responsible for.” Its recent use as meaning stand, endure, or permit, should be avoided.

Start should not be used for begin, e. g., “He started (began) to speak.” (But these two are interchangeable these days)

State should not be used for say.

Stop should not be used for stay.

Such should not be used for so. Say “I have never seen so beautiful a book before” not “I have never seen such a beautiful book before.”

Sure should not be used as an adverb. Say surely.

Take is superfluous in connection with other verbs, e. g., “Suppose we take and use that type.” Take should not be confused with bring.

Take stock in should not be used for rely or trust in.

That should not be used in the sense of so. “I did not know it was that big.”

Think should not have the word for added, e. g., “It is more important than you think for.”

This should not be used as an adverb.This much is clear” should be “Thus much is clear.”

Through should not be used for finished.

To is superfluous and wrong in such expressions as “Where did you go to?”

Too alone should not modify a past participle. “He was too (much) excited to reply.” (Doesn’t apply nowadays)

Transpire does not mean happen. It means to come to light or become known.

Treat should be followed by of rather than on. This volume treats of grammar, not on grammar.

Try should be followed by to rather than and. “I will try to go,” not “I will try and go.”

Ugly should never be used in the sense of bad tempered or vicious. It means “repulsive to the eye.”

Unique does not mean rare, odd, or unusual. It means alone of its kind. (There’s no “more unique”)

Upward of should not be used in the sense of more than.

Venal should not be confused with venial.

Verbal should not be confused with oral. A verbal message means only a message in words; an oral message is a message by word of mouth.

Very should be used sparingly. It is a word of great emphasis and like all such words defeats its purpose when used too frequently. (Amen!)

Visitor is a human caller. Visitant a supernatural caller.

Want should not be used in the sense of wish, e. g., “I want it” really means “I feel the want of it” or “I lack it.” Want, wish, and need should be carefully distinguished.

Way should not be used in the sense of away in such expressions as “Way down East.” Ways should not be used for way, e. g., “It is quite a ways (way) off.”

What is often misused for that, e. g., “He has no doubt but what (that) he will succeed.”

Whence means “from what place or cause” and should not be preceded by from. This applies equally to hence which means “from this place.”

Which should not be used with a clause as its antecedent, e. g., “He replied hotly, which was a mistake” should be “He replied hotly; this was a mistake.” Which being a neuter pronoun should not be used to represent a masculine or feminine noun. Use who. Between the two neuter pronouns which and that let euphony decide.

Who should not be misused for whom or whose, e. g., “Who (whom) did you wish to see?” “Washington, than who (whose) no greater name is recorded.” Impersonal objects should be referred to by which rather than who.

Without should not be used for unless, e. g., “I will not go without (unless) you go with me.”

Witness should not be used for see.

Worst kind or worst kind of way should not be used for very much.

Womanly means “belonging to woman as woman.”

Womanish means effeminate.


You can download the entire book for free here: http://manybooks.net/titles/hamiltonf3003630036-8.html

Hope the list is somewhat useful 🙂



The Oxford Dictionary defines persistence as

The fact of continuing in an opinion or course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition

We have come to accept persistence as a desirable trait, often present in highly successful individuals. The Internet is chock-full of inspirational stories about how great figures of history succeeded to defy all odds with unyielding resolution. Persistence and grit have come to be worshiped, especially in the field of entrepreneurship.

Therefore, in this piece, I will attempt to discuss the other side of the issue. Namely, how persistence may be a bad thing.

Let me introduce you to our main character of the story, the Persistent Entrepreneur, or PE in short.

PE founded a generic tech startup and it is on the rise. Funds are pouring in from investors. More people are coming on board. To get here, PE has put a lot of time and effort, despite the multitude of difficulties and opposition from almost everyone he knew. Gradually, his idea was accepted and his startup seemed to be doing very well. Series A is next month and PE expects to raise about 10 million USD to continue scaling it into a viable business.

However, after Series A, things started to go downhill. PE’s plan to expand overseas backfired as he couldn’t compete with local businesses. His startup is hemorrhaging heavily, causing the investors to have serious doubts. PE’s mentors advised him to temporarily retreat and consolidate his hold in the domestic market.

But PE decided to persist. He invests even more time and effort into the expansion. And so, the hole he’s in gets deeper and deeper. The more difficult the situation becomes, the more persistence he tries to muster. In his earnest, he really wanted to succeed. After all, he’s dedicated so much into this endeavour. He doesn’t want everything to be for nothing. The more people around him tell him to quit, the more determined he becomes. PE just flat out refuses to throw in the towel. Staying the course is the only thing that matters.

As a result, PE’s expansion plan sucked his business dry. His startup ran out of funds in the next couple of months as investors stopped pouring money in. He had to close down his dream.

Now, of course there are several reasons leading to PE’s ultimate failure and it is extremely difficult to assign primacy to any of them. But it is also difficult to claim that persistence didn’t play a part in PE’s downfall. From my perspective, there are 2 reasons behind this blind persistence.

The first of these two is the social stigma attached to quitting. I don’t think it’s any secret that we tend to look down on those who give up. Quitting has got a bad rap, especially in the field of entrepreneurship. I believe the need to prove ourselves right and other people wrong is primitive – it’s hardwired into our psyche. This line of thinking is boosted with all the “There is no greater pleasure than doing what other people say you can’t” proverbs flying around. Well, if people who are knowledgeable in that field tell you to stop, perhaps it is a good idea to stop for a second and consider the reason why. More often than not, they say that out of goodwill and experience, not jealousy. Of course you need a strong conviction, but don’t fall prey to it.

Second, the sunk cost trap also takes effect in cultivating blind persistence (Sunk costs are the resources that you’ve put into an endeavor that you can’t get back out). The individual does not want to give up because he fears that all the effort he has put into the enterprise will become meaningless if he abandons it. He wants to at least extract some value or make some gains to show for it, to see that his project is not, after all, worthless. Why should I let all of these go to waste, he thinks. He is afraid to walk away, even if nothing is working as he intended. He doesn’t know when to bail.

With these factors, one’s persistence now does more harm than good, because he decides to persist past the point when he should have quit. The mission wad no longer about achieving set objectives, it was about minimising the damage – cutting the losses, as one may colloquially say. The Persistent Entrepreneur in our story missed that, and his grit worked against him instead. Blind persistence has cost him dearly. Learning to admit defeat and cut our losses is, in my opinion, quite an underrated skill to have. Pressing on despite the certainty of failure is plain harmful.

The PE example is hypothetical, but I am sure we can find the examples quite easily if we observe around us. Several instances of serious failure can be traced to the individual’s stubbornness, either due to the fear of being stigmatised by society or falling into the sunk cost trap, or a combination of both.

To sum things up, I don’t deny that persistence is very much required in our lives. Several successes have the trace of persistence, but it is also behind quite a few of failed projects. The key, I think, is to constantly evaluate the situation and apply the appropriate strategy. And listening to experts also helps.


Next week’s word is booze. Stay tuned!


The Oxford Dictionary defines “post-truth” as

relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief1

The Dictionary also provides a brief history of the word as follows

Post-truth seems to have been first used in this meaning in a 1992 essay by the late Serbian-American playwright Steve Tesich in The Nation magazine. Reflecting on the Iran-Contra scandal and the Persian Gulf War, Tesich lamented that ‘we, as a free people, have freely decided that we want to live in some post-truth world’. There is evidence of the phrase ‘post-truth’ being used before Tesich’s article, but apparently with the transparent meaning ‘after the truth was known’, and not with the new implication that truth itself has become irrelevant.

Focus on the last line. “The new implication that truth itself has become irrelevant.”

That’s fucking terrifying. How can truth ever become irrelevant in this world? What do we use to orientate ourselves in this mad world then?

The whole thing is even more grave when you consider the field “post-truth” is most commonly associated with. Politics. Over the course of 2016, the phrase “post-truth politics” has gained unprecedented popularity and certainly will stay in the mainstream vocabulary of political discourse for the foreseeable future.

The relationship politicians have with the truth has always been rocky at best. Politicians twist, spin and tell part of it – that’s the supposed norm. I know, that’s the sad state. But the new state is much sadder and more dangerous.

What has become much, much more disturbing is that many politicians no longer argue on a factual basis. The truth no longer matters. It is discarded. Then what the hell are these campaigners’ speeches and arguments based on, you might ask. The troubling answer is emotion. These politicians appeal to the public’s emotion, often by making claims that are the total opposite to what’s factually true, and to great effect. It doesn’t matter if what you say is just flat out false, if you can rile people up, you’ve already succeeded. If the people love what you say, it doesn’t matter if what you are saying has been scientifically disproved. Emotion overrides logic in public discourse and proper fact-checking is disregarded and discarded. Two very illustrative examples of post-truth politics in 2016 must be Brexit and Donald Trump. I will now briefly take a look at each of them.

Regarding Brexit, one of the Leave camp’s most articulated claims was that the UK sends the EU £350 million a week, a hefty amount of money which could be used to fund something that benefits the people of UK, like the National Health Service (NHS) instead. The Leave camp really pushed this idea to get people to vote Leave. This was a common sight during the campaign period:



However, UK Statistics Authority calls £350m EU membership fee claim “potentially misleading.” Since the UK receives rebates, the amount of fund it sent to the UK in 2014 was about £250 million a week. Moreover, the EU spends some money back on the UK, such as farming subsidies, research funding to universities, or infrastructure projects. So the net figure is about  £175 million a week – half of what the Leave campaign claimed. But they didn’t care for the truth. The Leave campaigners kept expounding on it, despite intense criticism.

Brexit campaign was ‘criminally irresponsible’, says legal academic

You can read more about the “claims” here.

And of course, after the result was in, this happened.

If that’s not post-truth politics in full play, I don’t know what is.

As for Donald Trump, this probably says it all.


How Donald’s lies played out is, well, history.

Politicians have chosen to blatantly disregard the truth when communicating with the mass populace, simply because it works. But that’s the dangerous path that we are unfortunately going down.

People respond much more aggressively to emotions because they don’t need time to process the information and check whether it’s accurate. Going with one’s feelings is intuitive and thus much easier than rationalising an argument. You know, “if your heart tells you to do something, just follow it.” If the truth does not help in the endeavour of stirring people up (and it often doesn’t), campaigners won’t use it. If an untruth can provoke intense public emotion,  it will be used, exploited and splashed all over the media channels.

The public no longer makes uninformed decisions. They make misinformed decisions. Which can be just as bad or even worse.


For the impact of post-truth campaigning, I suggest you spend a few minutes reading this article. EU referendum: The claims that won it for Brexit, fact checked.

So yeah, that’s post-truth for ya. Truth no longer matters. What matters is appealing to public emotion, often by the use of untruths.

Again, that’s fucking terrifying.


Next week’s Word of the Week will be persistence. Stay tuned!



Courtesy of The Telegraph UK

With possibly the greatest stakes imaginable, Americans had a choice coming to the voting stations yesterday. I woke up when counting was well under way, and found to my absolute horror that Donald Trump was leading HRC by roughly 20 electoral college votes. 

I spent the whole morning following the live coverage, refreshing the page every 5 minutes to get the latest result. It was an excruciatingly painful morning, to see HRC always lagging behind, chasing Donald Trump’s ever-increasing lead. 

When DT got 264 votes and it was virtually impossible for him not to win the presidency. I turned the laptop off and went to the gym. I needed to work my rising anger and disappointment out.

Let me tell you what Trump’s ascendancy to POTUS means to me, personally. 

I study political science. As in, I employ a scientific method to study politics. From the ancient age all the way to modern politics and political philosophy. So I have a lot of faith in how political processes work. The mass population chooses the most able, qualified people and put them in charge of governing society as a whole. They don’t always get it right, like many devastating examples of history have shown us, but most of time, it is how things work. 

I used to like politics (my view on democracy is for another post). I love Political Science. I consider politics the pinnacle of human activity, because it is where we display the best of our human traits. I mean, Plato used to propose the idea that only Philosopher Kings are fit to govern. These Philosopher Kings are trained with the arts of humanities and sciences since young, isolated from other worldly pleasures and dedicate their entire adult lives to rule and maintain the community. 

I used to believe politics transcended the ugly side of us. I used to believe governance is a noble idea. After all, we use the word “serve” to talk about working in the public service, and we call those working in the government “public servants.” So yeah, for me, politics was about sacrificing oneself for the greater good. And democratic elections were a means to ensure that the most capable candidates are put in charge. The best and the brightest.

So yeah, the final result of #Election2016 frankly disgusted me. It means that politics isn’t about human decency any more. Because America passed over a highly qualified candidate, with admittedly a lot of baggage, and instead chose to elect a person who is openly racist, misogynistic, xenophobic, rude and bad-tempered. Yes, a man who professed to have grabbed women by their pussy was democratically elected to the highest office of the land. What does it say about the system? What does it say about the people? Did millions of Americans just dismissed a candidate with a lot of political experience and opted for someone with a lot of reality TV experience? Never mind his policy platform, which is frankly non-existent, his character alone can disqualify him for the presidency. And yet it didn’t. Had he run for almost any other job, he’d have been sent packing. But not POTUS. Not the office with the greatest responsibilities and demands. That’s just perverse. Where the fuck is integrity? 

It’s been said that looking at the leadership of any organisation will tell you a lot about the organisation itself. And honestly, I don’t recognise America any more. Millions of its people (59,240,076 to be exact) deliberately elected a person unfit in everyone way possible to lead the nation and the free world. And in all honesty, I don’t think a lot of voters stopped for 1 minute and appreciate the full effects of their choice. Because quite simply, it’s all far away from them and their self-interests. NATO? Who cares? Nuclear codes? I ain’t having those anyways. New jobs in manufacturing? Yes please! The quality of their chosen leader speaks volumes about themselves.

(Side note: right now, Paul Ryan is already holding a press conference where he mentioned repealing Obamacare. Yup, it is already happening. Because we have one single party controlling the White House, the Congress and the Senate. The possibilities are really endless.) 

Politics was supposed to be about championing human decency and selflessness, about contributing to the greater good. This election and its result have shown me that it is anything but. So yeah, I am just disappointed in politics. Trump won tonight, but human decency didn’t. Because I tried my hardest to put myself at the voting booth with the ballot on my hand, deciding who to vote for. And for my life I could not convince myself to vote for DT. I am a pretty amoral person, but somehow I just couldn’t turn the feeling away and choose DT. My stomach’d churn. 

So yeah America. You played us. But you also played yourself. You pick where to eat more carefully than you pick who to lead. 


P.S: My last comment isn’t aimed at people who have legitimate grievances with the current political system. They exist and their voice should be heard. But the folks who didn’t give a shit about who is gonna have control of the US nuclear arsenal and voted for DT simply because “he speaks his mind” also exist. The comment is directed at them. Fucking idiots. And by the way, in politics and especially international politics, speaking one’s mind is a fucking bad thing to do. 

P.S 2: This is a pretty insightful article about DT’s presidential agenda: ‘Strange New Land’: America in a Time of Trump