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!
- When some verbs become past tense, you simply add -ed.
- 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!
- For regular verbs, you double the last consonant when a one-syllable verb ends in a consonant-vowel-consonant pattern.
- 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.
Might want to work on your comforting skills, Mike…