Woe is I! Some More “Mixed Doubles” – P. O’Conner

Woe-Is-I-3rdedIn the past we have examined some selections from part of chapter five in Patricia O’Conner’s helpful book on English grammar and word usage. The book is Woe Is I: The Grammarphobe’s Guide to Better English in Plain English (Riverhead Books, New York, c.1996), and it contains a section headed by the phrase “mixed doubles,” which has to do with words that are commonly confused or mixed up, because they are close in spelling and sometimes in meaning.

It’s time to look at a few more of these confusing couplets today. Discern and learn! 🙂


If something has a place in history, it’s historic. If something has to do with the subject of history, it’s historical. There’s not much historical evidence that the Hartletop’s house is historic.


To lay is to place something; there’s always a ‘something’ that’s being placed. To lie is to recline. If you’re not feeling well, lay your tools aside and lie down. (These two get really confusing in the past tense. There’s more about lay and lie, and how to use them in the past, on page 64.)


To raise is to bring something up; there’s always a ‘something’ that’s being lifted. To rise is to get up. When they raise the flag, we all rise. (There’s more about raise and rise, and how they’re used in the past tense, on page 65.)


To set is to place something; there’s always a ‘something’ that’s being placed. To sit is to be seated. Set the groceries on the counter and sit at the table. (there’s more about set and sit, and how they’re used in the past tense, on page 64.)

Published in: on November 4, 2015 at 6:26 AM  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I love this book! I read it with my Grammar students as we learn different rules and parts of speech and it’s amazing how his ideas “stick” in their heads!


  2. I really appreciate those distinctions because they are so clear and I have troubles with them (especially the last 3). Maybe, just maybe, I’ll remember them now!


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