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For the Love of Language

I am in awe of those who have the ability to converse in a language that isn’t their native one. Heck, some folks are comfortable in several languages!

I speak, write, and understand only English — American English at that. Yes, I can puzzle through a few words in French, Italian, and Spanish, largely because our roots are similar. But beyond that, and beyond the few phrases most of us learn so we don’t sound 100% dumb, I know very little of what I learned in high school.

That said, we English users are often faced with terms that have jumped/hitched a ride/ leaped (leapt? lept?) into our language that we haven’t learned perfectly. There are terms in Latin, especially, that many of us are confuzzled about … (my made-up word)

Here’s your chance on this fine Monday morning to check out some of these and see if you’re right about them! Which word goes with which definition? (I would have had trouble without seeing possible definitions, myself. And even then …)

ad hoc                                     one thing in return for another

de rigueur                               as by itself

e.g.                                         something done for a special need

i.e.                                          for example

per se                                      necessary according to society

pro bono                                 an equal proportion

pro rata                                   for the good

quid pro quo                           that is to say

Answers:

ad hoc                                     something done for a special need

de rigueur                               necessary according to society

e.g.                                         for example (Latin = exempli gratia)

i.e.                                          that is to say (Latin = id est)

per se                                      as by itself

pro bono                                 for the good

pro rata                                   an equal proportion

quid pro quo                           one thing in return for another

I realize most of us won’t or don’t use all of these, but most DO use e.g. and i.e., too often in error. Since e.g. (with periods, please, and a comma after it) means “for example,” we’re better off if we actually use the English version so our reader will understand what we mean.

I see NO reason to ever use i.e., which is a restatement of what we already wrote. If we can’t write it correctly in the first place, we need to stop and think.

How did you do with this short quiz? Did one or more of the terms surprise you?  Are there other terms that you see often misused? What would they be?

Let’s all learn together!

Susan Rooks
Susan Rookshttps://grammargoddess.com/
With 25 years’ experience as an international speaker and workshop leader, Susan Rooks is uniquely positioned to help people master the communication skills they need to succeed. In 1995, Susan formed Grammar Goddess Communication to help business professionals enhance their communication skills. She creates and leads three-hour “Brush Up on Your Skills” workshops in three main areas: American grammar, business writing, and interpersonal skills. And recently she created and began leading introductory workshops to help business pros maximize their LinkedIn experience, offering it to Chambers of Commerce free of charge. As a copyeditor (and editor of nonfiction only), Susan has worked on projects ranging from blogs to award-winning children’s books to best-selling business books to corporate annual reports (with clients from half a dozen countries), ensuring that all material is professionally presented and free from grammatical errors. From the beginning, Susan’s only goal was to help everyone look and sound as smart as they are.

6 COMMENTS

  1. Ok, OK, I’ll go on an “i.e.” detox program! Ha. I think it was George Orwell who instructed us to never use foreign words or phrases at all, right? That said, I don’t see “quid pro quo” going away any time soon. Thanks for this fun frolic in foreign phrases.

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