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It’s National Grammar Day! But what, exactly, do we mean by the word, grammar? Most people define it very simply as “writing rules.” But grammar has a much more extensive and complex definition. What better day than today to take a closer look at the word:
Grammar is the study of words, how they are used in sentences, and how they change in different situations.The Ancient Greeks used to call it grammatikē tékhnē or “the craft of letters.” The word, however, can have any of these meanings:
- The study of a language: how it works, and everything about it. This is referred to as “background research on language.”
- The study of sentence structure. Rules and examples show how the language should be used. This is referred to as “correct usage grammar,” as in a textbook or writing guide.
- The system which people learn as they grow up. This is referred to as “native-speaker’s grammar.”
When we speak, we use the native person’s grammar, or as near as we can. When we write, we try to write with correct grammar. So, speaking and writing a language each have their own style.
Circumscribe means to draw a line around; to constrict with a boundary.
For example, “Keith felt that his authority was being circumscribed by the new CEO.“
Acquiesce mean to submit, comply, or accept.
For example, “Keith acquiesced to his sales team’s demand that he stop micromanaging them.“
Tractable means docile; capable of being easily managed or controlled.
For example, “The new salesperson seemed too tractable to Keith, so he fired him.“
Impugn means to oppose or attack as false or lacking integrity.
For example, “Keith felt that the VP’s comments impugned his integrity.“
Haggard means tired; exhausted.
For example, “After a marathon session of endless meetings, Keith felt haggard.“
Mellifluous means having a smooth rich flow.
For example, “Keith’s mellifluous voice could be heard well beyond the shower where he was singing.“
Recondite means obscure; arcane; something that is little known.
For example, “The HR manual’s section on paid time off was so recondite that Keith threw the book away.“
When you expand your vocabulary, you expand your mind. So start expanding, by thumbing through a thesaurus and jotting down new favorite words to use in your everyday speech and writing.
There’s no better time to start than National Thesaurus Day, which just so happens to be January 18th! The first modern thesaurus, Roget’s Thesaurus, was compiled in 1805 by Peter Mark Roget. Since its publication, it has never been out of print.
The word thesaurus is derived from the Greek word thēsauros, which means “treasure.” A fitting name given that a thesaurus is a treasure chest of words!
According to Roget, the main purpose of his book is to enable users “to find the word, or words, by which [an] idea may be most fitly and aptly expressed.”
To help you get started, click on this link to thesaurus.com and start to expand, enlarge, inflate, stretch, dilate, distend, fatten, and tumefy your vocabulary!
Incongruous means incompatible; not harmonious; inconsistent.
For example, “Keith felt that the new design for the headquarters building was an incongruous mix of modern and baroque.“