What’s in a Word: a Writer’s Rant

My post today comes from my personal website and is part of my THIS IS… series, which I started just to share random things that I find cool or interesting or annoying or special in some way.

This is one of the annoying varietals. It has to do with the rampant and chronic misuse of certain words. In other words, this is… a pet peeve so omnipresent I may name it.

In fact, I shall name it Peevezilla.

The Peevezilla of the day is…

This is the word you use when you are talking about what someone believes. As in, “Universal love for one’s fellow creatures is a tenet of Hinduism.”

…is the word you use when you’re talking about a place someone lives because when they live there, they are a tenant. As in, “Harry Potter was a tenant of the Gryfindor dormitory at Hogwarts.”

A person is not a tenet.

A belief or principle is not a tenant, unless, of course, you’re trying to make a poetic statement about the place it holds in someone’s mind or heart.

End of lesson in English 101.

Carry on.



What’s in a Word: a Writer’s Rant — 2 Comments

  1. Not the same, but: Dominant is not the same as dominate. Among other differences, the former is either an adjective or a noun; the latter is a verb.

    This really started bothering me when I taught genetics; no matter how often I spelled the word “dominant” on the board/worksheets/tests, about half the students would use the word “dominate” on their tests or papers. Alas, that experience sensitized me so that now I see this mistake in daily life as well as on student papers.

  2. Native speakers of English make mistakes that seem weird to us second language learners. Especially those with a neoLatin mother tongue.