Friday, December 2, 2016

Mental Blocks

I take a small but smug pleasure in being a good speller and in avoiding most grammar pitfalls.

I know how to use both the apostrophe and the semi colon.

I know when it's "she and I" and when it's "her and me."

But there are some things I just cannot get into my brain.

There's a town in northern Washington state.  One of my friends has relative there, another has a sweetheart up there, and it's a fairly popular destination for outdoorsy vacationers.  

It starts with a B.

And I can never remember what it's called.

It's not Bainbridge Island.  Not Bremerton.  Not Bellevue.  Not Burlingame or Burlington or Brattleboro.  Not Breitenbush.  It's--I have no idea.  I'd have to go look it up, or text someone.  If it comes to me while finishing this post, I'll let you know.  

I can do who/whom, and I really don't see why anyone would confuse their/they're/there if you actually know what any of those mean.  A high school teacher set me straight on it's/its, and when my roommate proofread my senior thesis, she finally got me to be more careful about my to/too placement.  But it took me until a few months ago to get a handle on lay/laid/lye  I read an article that explained that Clapton's "Lay, Lady Lay," while poetic enough in its way, is grammatically incorrect.  She's lying on the bed, not laying (although clearly he's hoping to get laid, but that's another issue).  So now I at least have something to refer back to when I get stuck.  Still, it's far from natural or instinctive.

Then there are the spelling issues.  These are the words that I now spell by typing in approximations and letting spellcheck do the rest:
  • silhouette
  • souvenir
  • ouvre
  • hors d'euvor the one that means appetizer, which I can't even get spellcheck to help me out with here
Whelp.  Clearly I have trouble with French origin words that use "ou" in them.  

And that town...Barcelona.  Burbanks.  Babylon.  Barbados.  Crap.  I'm seriously going to have to look it up, just so you don't have to.  

Bellingham!  Seriously, though, why the hell is it so hard for me to remember that?  

What are your mental blocks?  What words tend to escape you, which spellings continually confound you, which grammar error do you make over and over?  Or am I alone in this?  Please tell me I'm not alone in this.


  1. I was going to suggest Bellingham, but you beat me to it. :) Maybe use one of those mnemonic tricks, like picturing your friend ringing a bell or something.

    Mental blocks? No, you are not alone! I think we all have some of those. I needed to check on hors d'oeuvres, too!

  2. I have a few that stump me all the time. I always type beleive instead of believe. Their are plenty of i before e, except after c rules that I need to sing as I type. I am very thankful for the internet on my phone and I can look up most mental blocks. I'll just stick to saying appetizers.

  3. I am an editor, and I still have to look certain things up or count on spellcheck---things that I've looked up a dozen times and I still can't QUITE get it into my head. One thing though: It's actually lay/laid/lie (lye is used to make soap). :-)

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction


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