Knitted a Scarf. My Neck Benefited.

English for Dummies

The English language will be the bane of my existence. That’s saying a lot, considering I’m a professional writer.*

*By professional, I mean, in job title only. It in no way denotes professionalism. After all, I’m the guy whose witty proposed headline—What the FTP is Webmail?!—was shot down by corporate today because it doesn’t adhere to brand standards.

I was drafting an article this morning and stumbled over the word benefited. As in, customers have benefited from this technology for the past decade.

My issues are twofold. Actually, that’s not correct: they’re multiple-fold.

For starters, there are two ways to spell the word: with one T or two. Benefited and benefitted are both acceptable. What kind of madness is that?! Choose a side, English!

There are rules, but they’re so murky you practically need a translator to decipher them. And they’re written in English!

  1. When some verbs become past tense, you simply add -ed.
  2. With certain other verbs, you double the final consonant before adding -ed.

How do you know when to do what to which word? Worry not: there are more rules! Yay!

  1. For regular verbs, you double the last consonant when a one-syllable verb ends in a consonant-vowel-consonant pattern.
  2. But, if the verb contains more than one syllable, you double the last consonant only if it’s in a stressed syllable.

Clear as mud, right? My god. The syllable isn’t the only thing that’s stressed!

But, if we follow the above rules, we still don’t have an obvious conclusion.

  • Does benefit end in a consonant-vowel-consonant pattern? Yep. F-I-T.
  • Is benefit one syllable? Nope. Ben-e-fit. That’s three.
  • Is the last consonant stressed? A-HA! I’m glad you asked. The answer is, it depends who is pronouncing it. Americans are more likely to stress the B. Brits, on the other hand, stress the T. But of course, there are individual exceptions in both countries. After all, this the land of the free and home of the bravely ignorant who pronounce nuclear nu-cu-lar.

Ultimately, I went with the one T, because: red, white, and blue, baby!

You know what would make things easier? If the past tense of benefit was benefat. I mean, why not? If you took a shit, you haven’t shitted—you shat. Customers have benefat from this technology for the past decade. Call me crazy, but doesn’t that roll off the tongue a whole lot easier?

You sit, you sat.

I suppose if you crocheted a scarf, you’ve knitted—you haven’t knat. And if you’ve removed the seed from a cherry, you pitted…you didn’t pat.

@$&%# you, English.

Can’t Bear it Any More

Remember when I posted about the three recent bear sightings in the Black Hills? The next day, I read that there were actually four, so I went back and edited my post.

The day after that, the Rapid City Journal ran an article stating the true number of bear sightings is 10-15 per year. I didn’t bother editing my post again, because it’s clear that I’m doomed. It won’t matter if people are seeing one or 15 or 200 bears every year when my head is being crushed between the jaws of some fearsome beast. Regardless of the real number, my final conscious thought before I shuffle off this mortal coil is going to be, well, shit.

And when hikers stumble upon my body, I’m pretty sure I’ll have shat.

My friend Mike, a fellow outdoors enthusiast, tried to make me feel better by forwarding me a few helpful tips for surviving bear encounters.

Not helpful.
REALLY not helpful.

Might want to work on your comforting skills, Mike…

Categories: writing

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36 replies

  1. I like Mike. He’s my kind of helpful….
    As for your proposed benefat addition, count me out. I’ve got enough fat already and don’t need one drop more.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That whole grammar business sounds about as annoying as having a blog commenter ask you about the difference between sneaked and snuck.
    Mike is hilarious.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Go, Mike.

    I get into a lot of arguments about “many” and “much.”

    Me: “It’s ‘how many beans,’ I promise!”

    Them: “That makes no sense! It should be ‘how much beans!’ You aren’t going to count every bean!”

    Me: “But you could! ‘Many’ is for the quantifiable amounts! And ‘how much beans?’ just freakin’ hurts me, dude!”

    Liked by 2 people

    • “How much beans” makes me cringe. Who says that?!

      It’s similar to “fewer” and “less.” I’m forever correcting people when it comes to those two. Like you said…quantifiable amounts get special treatment!

      Liked by 2 people

      • While I’m all about beans, I want them referred to properly. I’m enough of a grammarian to admit that. Also with you on the ‘fewer’ and ‘less’ mistakes. I try not to say anything, but really people… 🤨

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Who pronounces nuclear like that??? My problem is always with the spelling of the past tense of cancel. Very much like benefit!

    Aren’t you supposed to act big and make a lot of noise with a bear? Because bears must be dumb?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ahh, yes. Cancel/canceled/cancelled. Travel/traveled/travelled is another one. They both fit into the same benefit/benefited/benefitted rule!

      George W. Bush famously pronounced it that way. Also, apparently, Eisenhower, Ford, and Carter. You would think presidents who hold the keys to the NUCLEAR codes would at least know how to pronounce the word!

      I know you’re supposed to act big and make a lot of noise if you encounter a mountain lion. I think if I ever do come across a bear, I’ll be too busy running as fast as I can in the opposite direction to bother with that!


  5. Benefat. Ha! I think you’ve solved the problem.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I used to think English was bad (ok, I still do.) Then I tried studying Spanish and discovered how many forms even regular verbs have. Ergo, my grammar has gone from bad to worse.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I love this post! I’m teaching those rules to my 2nd graders right now! We only cover 1-syllable words, but I enjoy all the rules just the same. I must say, I tend to apply the one-syllable rules to the multi-syllabic words. In other words, I prefer benefitted. With benefited, my brain wants to say ben-i-FIGHT-id. I’d be willing to give benefat a go, though.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. The English language is so confusing. But until Sarcasm is considered a bonafide language, English will have to do.
    I had a good chuckle at the Bear meme your friend sent.
    We have bears in our GA community and I recently had to purchase Bear Spray to keep near the exterior doors. It’s mace, but in a bigger bottle and shoots further. I hope I never have to use it, but I would if need be. In that area, we are told to try to keep the bears AWAY from our homes so they don’t become comfortable around humans. But if they were comfortable with us, maybe they won’t want to eat us. I mean, that is a thought, right?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, if Sarcasm were an official language, I’d be fluent!

      Tara tells me I should carry bear spray or mace with me when I go for my morning walks or hikes. I’m not too concerned this time of year, but when I’m out there in the dark, that’s another story.

      I do like your logic about familiarity breeding contempt…

      Liked by 1 person

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