Wednesday, March 19, 2014

My Pet Peeve


Brief Bio of James R. Callan

After a successful career in mathematics and computer science, receiving grantsWho’s Who in Computer Science and Two Thousand Notable Americans, James R. Callan turned to his first love—writing.  He wrote a monthly column for a national magazine for two years, and published several non-fiction books.  He now concentrates on his favorite genre, mysteries, with his sixth book releasing in Spring, 2014.
from the National Science Foundation and NASA, and being listed in

My Pet Peeve
By James R. Callan

I was listening to the network news the other day and they managed to broadcast one of my pet peeves – to the entire world!  So, if this blog is annoying to you, blame it on the networks. How can we expect our young people to get the English language right if the highly paid professionals of television don’t.

My pet peeve? The misuse of badly. Of course, I feel the same way about other common words, but badly seems to irritate me the most. 

Badly is an adverb.  Bad is an adjective.  So, if you are modifying a noun or a pronoun, please use bad and not badly.  Here are some examples. “He was feeling badly today.”  This implies that his tactile sense was not working well.  If we mean that he was a little under the weather, then we need to say, “He was feeling bad today.”

Watch for sentences in which you really want the adjective “bad” to modify a noun or pronoun.  Carefully avoid using the adverb “badly” which needs to modify a verb or another adverb.  “The pilot was in a bad mood, so he was handling the boat badly.” “Bad” modifies a noun, his “mood,” so we need an adjective.  “Badly” modifies a verb, “was handling,” so we need an adverb.

More confusing, and more difficult (so they don’t come up to the level of Pet Peeve), are effect and affect

Effect is the result of something happening.  “Bright lights can have a bad effect on your eyes.”  Affect means to influence, or pretend. “Bright lights affect the eyes.” Or, “He affected surprise, but I knew he had expected it.”  It’s easy to see why these two give some of us a lot of trouble. Generally, effect is a noun and affect is a verb - but not always. And that explains the great difficulty with these two.

 Easier to understand, but just as incorrect, is the misuse of “its” and “it’s.”  Just remember that “it’s” is an abbreviation for “it is.”  Remember, the apostrophe takes the place of the “i” in the “is.”  Try reading “it’s” as “it is.”  If that doesn’t make sense take out the apostrophe.  (“Its cover was torn,” doesn’t make sense if you were to read it as, “It is cover was torn.)

“Lose” and “loose” often get mixed up.  Lose is the opposite of win.  Loose is the opposite of tight.

“Alot” is not a legitimate word.  “A lot” is correct.

And lastly, “farther” and “further.”  Both can be adjectives or adverbs.  But “farther” means at a greater distance. Examples:  It is farther to the health food store than to the ice cream shop. He ran farther than I did.  “Further” means to a greater extent. Examples:  I will investigate the offerings at the bakery further. His look made us believe there would be further desserts.

This distinction is easy to remember.  FARther refers to distance.

I apologize for my ramblings on such matters.  These words pop up often in our writing, and we should be careful they are not used incorrectly. “But their misuse of the word “badly” always affects me badly (or has a bad effect on me) and its obvious the book needs its editors to do further work or they’re going to lose a lot of readers farther down the road.”

I know I’ve made some mistakes in this post.  Let me know about them. I promise not to say bad things about you, nor will I speak badly about you.  (Okay, I know that was bad, or written badly.)

A Ton of Gold
A contemporary suspense novel
By James R. Callan

Can long forgotten, old folk tales affect the lives of people today? In A Ton of Gold, one certainly affected young, brilliant Crystal Moore.  Two people are killed, others threatened, a house burned and an office fire-bombed – all because of an old folk tale, greed and ignorance. 

On top of that, the man who nearly destroyed Crystal emotionally is coming back.  This time he can put an end to her career.  She’ll need all the help she can get from a former bull rider, her streetwise housemate and her feisty 76 year-old grandmother.

A Ton of Gold
By James R. Callan
From Oak Tree Press,  2013

On Amazon, in paperback, at: 
Or the Kindle edition at:    
Or from Oak Tree Press at: 

Blog site:           
Book website:   
Amazon Author page:
Twitter:                                    @jamesrcallan