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When vs. Whenever

Have you ever wondered how to use these words correctly? Have you ever thought, “Oh, either of these words will do”? Let’s have a closer look.

Rule 1 – If an event is unique or its date or time is known, use when.

Examples:
The game will begin Friday evening when the clock strikes seven.
When I told you I wanted a vacation, I meant a cabana by the beach, not a ticket to the Super Bowl!
She loved to play baseball with the neighborhood kids when she was a youngster.

Rule 2 – Whenever is best used for repeated events or events whose date or time is uncertain. If you can substitute every time that or at whatever time that in your sentence, then whenever is preferred.

Examples:
Whenever I get in the shower, the phone rings.
Whenever you decide to begin eating healthier foods, I’ll help you come up with new recipes.

Note: When can often substitute for whenever but generally not the other way around. The exception is using whenever as an intensive form of when in questions: Whenever will that dog stop barking?

Examples:
Correct:
When I get in the shower, the phone rings. (When is acceptable but whenever is preferred for conveying the meaning every time that.)
When you decide to begin eating healthier foods, I’ll help you come up with new recipes. (When is acceptable but whenever is preferred for conveying the meaning at whatever time that.)
Whenever are you going to finish cleaning the garage? (intensive form in a question)

Incorrect:
The game will begin Friday evening whenever the clock strikes seven.

 

Pop Quiz
1. Do you know when/whenever we’re supposed to arrive at your mother’s house?
2. Let me know when/whenever you’ll be arriving at the airport next week so I can pick you up.
3. When/Whenever the baby cries, she clenches her little fists.
4. I lived in a small town when/whenever I was seven years old.
5. Do you recheck your math when/whenever you have difficulty balancing your checkbook?

 

Answers:
1. Do you know when we’re supposed to arrive at your mother’s house?
2. Let me know when you’ll be arriving at the airport next week so I can pick you up.
3. Whenever the baby cries, she clenches her little fists. (When could also be used but whenever better conveys the meaning every time that the baby cries.)
4. I lived in a small town when I was seven years old.
5. Do you recheck your math whenever you have difficulty balancing your checkbook? (When could also be used but whenever better conveys the meaning at the time that or every time that you have difficulty balancing your checkbook.)

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Posted on Tuesday, September 4, 2012, at 12:59 pm


Pronouncing the Word “Blessed”

We recently received inquiries from some of our readers regarding the proper way to pronounce blessed. The word blessed can be used and pronounced in two different ways.

Rule 1. When blessed is used as a verb, it is pronounced with one syllable (blest):

Example for the pronunciation blest:

Devon is blessed with amazing athletic ability.

 

 Rule 2. When the word blessed is used as an adjective, adverb (blessedly), or noun (blessedness), blessed is pronounced with two syllables (bles-id).

Examples for the pronunciation bles-id:

Annie’s baptism was a blessed moment, particularly for her devoted grandparents.

Blessed are the poor.

 

Pop Quiz

1. The priest blessed (pronounced blest or bles-id) the candles at the ceremony.

2. The couple was blessed (pronounced blest or bles-id) with a healthy baby girl.

3. I don’t have a blessed (pronounced blest or bles-id) dime to my name.

 

Answers:

1. The priest blessed (pronounced blest) the candles at the ceremony.

2. The couple was blessed (pronounced blest) with a healthy baby girl.

3. I don’t have a blessed (pronounced bles-id) dime to my name.

 

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Posted on Saturday, August 11, 2012, at 2:28 pm


Into vs. In To (Expanded)

When Jane authored the first Grammar Tip on this subject in 2009, her intention was to provide simple, concise guidance on the most commonly encountered uses of the words into and in to. But she knew that at some point we would need to explore this topic in more depth. Since issuing that Grammar Tip, we have responded to 247 questions from readers on a wide variety of situations regarding the use of into vs. in to!  So, there is no better time than now to go into more depth on this topic.

How does one know when to use into or in to?

1. One of the main uses of the preposition into is to indicate movement toward the inside of a place.

Examples

The children jumped into the lake for a swim.

Mom drove the car into the garage.

 

2. Into can indicate “in the direction of.”

Example

Do not look directly into the laser or you may damage your eyes.

 

3. Into can refer to a state or condition.

Example

He got into trouble.

The caterpillar changed into a butterfly.

 

4. Into can indicate occupation or involvement.

Examples

The couple went into farming.

Unfortunately, her brother got into drugs.

 

5. Into can imply introduction, insertion, or inclusion.

Examples

The nations entered into an alliance.

Marguerite was hired into the firm.

Jojo incorporated my comments into the final document.

 

6. Into can indicate a point within time or space.

Example

We are now well into the year.

The spacecraft went into orbit around the moon.

 

7. Into is used as a divisor in math.

Example

The number 4 goes into 8 two times.

 

As you can see, there are many different situations where it is correct to use the word into. However, sometimes the words in (adverb) and to (preposition) just happen to find themselves neighbors, and they must remain separate words.

Examples

Rachel dived back in to rescue the struggling boy. [Here, in is part of the verb “dived in,” and to belongs with “rescue” (forming the infinitive) and means “in order to,” not “where.”]

The administrators wouldn’t give in to the demands of the protestors.

He turned his essay in to the teacher.

Using the word into in the last example would be a big mistake. It would mean he performed some kind of amazing magic trick that made his essay become the teacher!

 

I know this has been one of our longest Grammar Tips ever. However, 247 comments over the last two plus years indicated that we needed to cover this subject more thoroughly. I hope this lesson helped. Try your hand at the Pop Quiz, which includes some of the questions readers have submitted.

 

Pop Quiz

1. As a child, I was too afraid to go into/in to the Halloween haunted house.

2. I’m going to turn the wallet I found into/in to the police.

3. If your battery is running low, you’ll need to plug your power cord into/in to the socket.

4. I will look into/in to the options you have suggested.

5. She came into/in to warm her hands and feet.

6. Her brother Billy is really into/in to sports.

7. Excuse me, I’m going to tune into/in to watch the nightly news.

8. The agreement goes into/in to effect on October 1.

 

Answers:

1. As a child, I was too afraid to go into/in to the Halloween haunted house.

2. I’m going to turn the wallet I found into/in to the police.

3. If your battery is running low, you’ll need to plug your power cord into/in to the socket.

4. I will look into/in to the options you have suggested.

5. She came into/in to warm her hands and feet.

6. Her brother Billy is really into/in to sports.

7. Excuse me, I’m going to tune into/in to watch the nightly news.

8. The agreement goes into/in to effect on October 1.

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Posted on Sunday, July 29, 2012, at 1:08 pm


Pleaded vs. Pled and Enormity Defined

Today I will answer a couple of questions I received from radio listeners when I was a guest.

Question: Should you say “pleaded guilty” or “pled guilty”? Answer: Either one is considered correct.

Question: Does “enormity” mean “something monstrous” or “something huge”? Answer: In formal writing, enormity has nothing to do with something’s size. The word is frequently misused: the “enormity” of football linemen, or the “enormity” of the task. For that, we have such words as immensity, vastness, hugeness, enormousness.

Enormity is an ethical, judgmental word meaning “great wickedness,” “a hideous crime.” The enormity of Jonestown doesn’t mean Jonestown was a huge place, but rather, the site of a hugely outrageous tragedy.

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Posted on Friday, February 5, 2010, at 12:22 pm


On to vs. Onto

Rule 1: In general, use onto as one word to mean “on top of,” “to a position on,” “upon.”

Examples:
He climbed onto the roof.
Let’s step onto the dance floor.

Rule 2: Use onto when you mean “fully aware of,” “informed about.”

Examples:
I’m onto your scheme.
We canceled Julia’s surprise party when we realized she was onto our plan.

Rule 3: Use on to, two words, when on is part of the verb.

Examples:
We canceled Julia’s surprise party when we realized she caught on to our plan.
(caught on is a verb phrase)
I’m going to log on to the computer. (log on is a verb phrase)

 

Pop Quiz
1. Billy, I’m worried that climbing on to/onto that tree limb is unsafe.
2. My daughter is going on to/onto graduate school.
3. Jose stepped down from the ladder on to/onto the ground.
4. The magician realized one person in the audience was on to/onto his trick.
5. After you drive five miles, turn on to/onto Highway 280 south.
6. The Gateses have moved on to/onto a life of philanthropy.

 

Pop Quiz Answers
1. Billy, I’m worried that climbing onto that tree limb is unsafe.
2. My daughter is going on to graduate school.
3. Jose stepped down from the ladder onto the ground.
4. The magician realized one person in the audience was onto his trick.
5. After you drive five miles, turn onto Highway 280 south.
6. The Gateses have moved on to a life of philanthropy.

Click here to learn hundreds of distinctions between common words.

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Posted on Wednesday, January 6, 2010, at 8:53 am