Grammar Moses: That doesn't sound right!

  • Two broken guitars lie on the sidewalk after 100 people smashed guitars Aug. 12, 2005, to celebrate the grand opening of the new Hard Rock Cafe in New York's Times Square.

    Two broken guitars lie on the sidewalk after 100 people smashed guitars Aug. 12, 2005, to celebrate the grand opening of the new Hard Rock Cafe in New York's Times Square. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 1/22/2022 7:08 PM

I might have told you once that my home office is in the dining room, my wife's workroom is in sunroom, and the kitchen and family room stretch in between the two.

When my wife is working she's listening either to a book on Audible or to a steady stream of true crime shows on the boob tube, and that filters through my brain all day while I'm taking meetings, crunching numbers, writing thoughtful editorials or this stupid column.

 

I assume my constant state of dread owes to my assumption that she is cultivating tips on every way she can dispatch me and get away with it.

I hadn't found a benefit to the constant thrum that enters my right earhole until today when I heard a cop on "Deadline: Crime with Tamron Hall" say the body of a person was found "among the ashes" on the side of a road. "That doesn't sound right!" I exclaimed, interrupting my own Zoom meeting.

No, it wasn't right.

"Amid" would be the appropriate word.

"Among" and "amid" are similar, but "among" is used when there is more than one thing surrounding something. It's used with plural, countable nouns.

For example: "He is a prince among men."

"Amid" is used with uncountable nouns, such as fire, gasoline, water and ashes.

Hearty, har, har

I was editing the mini story that runs with today's "Skyview" drone photo. If you're reading this in the newspaper, just turn the page and you'll see it.

It referred to "hearty souls" who are foolish enough to leave the house at this time of year and skate on actual ice.

"That doesn't sound right," I remarked internally (no exclamation point warranted this time.)

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In this case, the word should be "hardy."

Penguins are "hardy" birds. People who live in International Falls, Minnesota, and anyplace else where mercury shrivels to nothing in thermometers are "hardy."

You guessed it: The origin of the word is "hard."

"Hardiness" does not mean that one is able to withstand the cold. I view any cyclist who does not use a padded saddle to be hardy.

Pioneers on the Oregon Trail were hardy people.

With apologies to the descendants of the survivors of the Donner party (who had to subsist on their traveling companions), toothsome soups and stews are "hearty."

They're invigorating. They are rejuvenating. The adjective is derived from "heart."

Help wanted

Reader Denise Archambault told me of a "help wanted" post on a different news site:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"Am looking for a dog walker for my mom in Libertyville. Any recommendations?"

One response: "How is she on a leash?"

Write carefully!

• Jim Baumann is vice president/executive editor of the Daily Herald. You can buy Jim's new book, "Grammar Moses: A humorous guide to grammar and usage," at

grammarmosesthebook.com. Write him at jbaumann@dailyherald.com and put "Grammar Moses" in the subject line. You also can friend or follow Jim at facebook.com/baumannjim.

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