Mike Buzzelli

Column Mike Buzzelli

Mike Buzzelli is a stand up comedian and published author. He is a theater and arts critic for 'Burgh Vivant, Pittsburgh's online cultural talk magazine, and an active board member of the Pittsburgh New Works Festival, the Carnegie Arts Initiative and the Carnegie Screenwriters. His book, "Below Average Genius" is a collection of essays culled from his weekly humor column here in the Observer-Reporter.

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March 8, 2013

There are common words in the English language that are often confused. Many people don’t know when to use as/like. They both compare similar items, features, traits. “She has fair skin like her sister,” or “She has the same brown hair as her brother.” It’s very tricky, and I’m not always sure myself. Luckily, William Shakespeare knew the difference, or his play would have been called “Like You As It,” which makes no sense at all.

The words “know” and “no” are often confused; mostly because they are homophones, words that are spelled differently but sound alike.

When I am reading Facebook status updates, I see people writing, “I didn’t no that,” all the time. I realize Facebook status updates aren’t always grammatically correct. Heck, they seldom are, and I am convinced most people know the difference, but they’re writing from their phone or they’re in a hurry. Still, it makes me cringe. I make status update mistakes all the time, but that one sets me on edge. Besides, like most people, I’m a hippogriff. I’m allowed to make the mistakes and they are not, and like most people they are part horse and part griffin. I know that sounds like a lot of Bullfinch, but I’m about to make a point.

Growing up, I had trouble with words like dairy and diary. I am glad I never kept a dairy under my pillow because I think the cows would be uncomfortable. For the same reason, I never worked on a diary farm because you have to get up at 5 a.m. and milk the words into your journal.

I have hiked a trial, but the judge wasn’t happy with it. I have been put on trail, because I fell off.

I have gotten lost in the dessert, between the words Happy and Birthday, next to the cherries.

I absolutely never know when I affect or effect someone. I just learned that all together and altogether are separate words, just like always and all ways.

I was being chased and I had to allude a thief by referring to his indiscretions. He made an illusion to a certain conversation we had, but it involved pigeons flying out of his hat.

I was reading this allowed because it’s a free country. I was very bemused by it; mostly because it’s funny and confusing.

Bemused/amused, allude/elude, dessert/desert, heirs/airs and trail and trial are often confused for one another.

The worst part of these often confused words is that spell check won’t catch most of them. Of course, it didn’t like when I tried to make a noun into a verb. In some cases, you will get the green squiggly line on your Microsoft Word document, and not the much harsher red squiggly line. As you may or may not know, the green squiggly is for grammar and the red squiggly is for spelling. I don’t know if it’s the same on an iPad.

Spell check always tries to turn my name Buzzelli into buzzard, and that’s just annoying.

Just be careful before you advise/advice, accede/exceed, or adapt/adept/adopt!



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