Share this Page URL

Chapter 15. The Writer's Tools: Round Up... > The Thesaurus: War of the Words - Pg. 153

The Writer's Tools: Round Up the Usual Suspects 153 Be careful with computerized grammar programs because they can homogenize your style, stripping away individuality. For instance, many of these programs strive to eliminate the passive voice. Now, in general, the passive voice is about as welcome as bad breath, but the passive voice does have some definite advantages in some instances. So does bad breath. See Chapter 5 for more on passive voice. Different grammar programs catch different errors, so you'll get better results using two separate programs together. But even the best programs flag as errors some things that are not, in fact, wrong. This is especially true with documents that have a less formal tone, such as this book. A grammar checker would go berserk with some of the words, phrases, and sentence constructions used here. My advice: If your knowledge of grammar and usage is very shaky, use at least two good grammar programs to catch the whoppers. However, be very much aware that no grammar program now available is an effective substitute for knowing your stuff. The Thesaurus: War of the Words Aching to increase your vocabulary? Want to learn more words to express yourself with greater ease and accuracy? I know you do, because you realize that accuracy of word choice is a big part of perfecting your writing style. The more precisely you use words, the more clearly you can express yourself, in speech as well as writing. Using a thesaurus is an invaluable aid in your quest to learn more words. It's just as useful for helping you correctly use the words you already know. A thesaurus is especially helpful when you're looking for a word with just the right shade of meaning: its denotation and connotation. You Could Look It Up A thesaurus is a dictionary of synonyms and antonyms. A word's denotations are its dictionary meanings. A word's connotations are its emotional overtones. All words have denotations; only some words have conno- tations. All words carry denotations , their dictionary meaning. Some words, however, also carry connota- tions, emotional overtones that shade the word's meaning. For example, thrifty has a positive con- notation, but parsimonious has a negative connotation. However, both words have the same de- notation: "careful with money." House does not have a connotation, but home (which has the same denotation as house), carries connotations of warmth and welcome. Take this simple quiz to see how good you are at finding a word's connotation. Write + if the word has a positive connotation, ­ if the word has a negative connotation, and 0 if the word has no connotation. Word Connotation ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. thin slender emaciated plump obese