As an English speaking person, I take the vagaries of the English language for granted. I can only imagine how difficult it must be to learn English as a second language. It would seem that for every rule there is an exception (or six).
I have long been a lover of new words, and English grammar is an interest of mine (though I know I make grammar mistakes on a daily basis).
This post was spurred by another post from a talented author/blogger that I follow diligently, Kristen Twardowski. Her post was titled:
I love words! So much so that I have created a blog page with some of my favorite ones.
One day, while composing a blog post for a book review, I used the word peruse. Then I stopped and questioned myself… Am I using this word correctly? This led me to look it up and I found that it is a contronym! What is a contronym you ask?
A contronym is a word that has two correct meanings that mean the opposite of each other. Words that, depending on context, can have opposite or contradictory meanings. Did I mention earlier that English was perverse?
So peruse can mean to examine something thoroughly, carefully and at length OR it can mean to look over in a casual or cursory manner. Don’t you love it?
Two more of my favorite contronyms are:
Here is a listing of 75 more contronyms.
And if contronyms weren’t enough… How is this for a fun little exercise?
Place the word ‘only’ anywhere in this sentence and note how the meaning of the sentence changes…
Only she told him that she loved him,
She only told him that she loved him.
She told only him that she loved him.
She told him only that she loved him.
She told him that only she loved him.
She told him that she only loved him.
She told him that she loved only him.
She told him that she loved him only.
Have you every paused to wonder:
If you love the English language as much as I do, I would be grateful for your comments.