Page:A Desk-Book of Errors in English.djvu/153

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Errors in English

mean: A word often erroneously used. Its generic meaning is "common" and therefrom it has been accepted as meaning "of humble origin, of low rank or quality, of inferior character or grade" and is used in England as a synonym for "miserly in expenditure, stingy." In the United States it is commonly misused as a substitute for "ill-tempered; disagreeable."

mean. Compare intend.

means: As means or some means covers "any means," it is pleonastic to write "by some means or another." For the same reason some means or other may be condemned; its only excuse is that "other" refers not to "means" but qualifies the word "procedure" (understood). If this form of speech is desired, the correct utterance would be one mean or another.

memoranda should never be used as a singular. It is the plural of memorandum and the distinction should always be observed in speech or writing.

me or my going: Erroneous combinations sometimes used by persons careless with their diction. Do not say "Instead of me (or my) going to London I went to Bermuda"; say, rather, "Instead of going …" Here "me" and "my" are redundant.

merely: Sometimes misused for simply. Merely implies no addition; simply, no admixture or complication; e.g., "The boys were there merely as spectators; it is simply incredible that they should have so disgraced themselves"; "It is simply water."