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Church Bulletin Bloopers

We know what we mean, but do we always mean what we say? The pictures in our minds can easily blind us to what readers will understand from our words. By having somebody read our words before they go to print, we can save ourselves from embarrassment.

Contranyms: Same Word — Opposite Meaning

Nothing illustrates the importance of context more than a word that can have opposite meanings.


When Frank Ball was a kid learning English, he wasn’t always clear on the meaning of words. In a business he noticed a sign Off-ice, and wondered if this place was warmer or colder than an ice house. His dad drove a Ply-mouth, and he wondered what eating had to do with automobiles. As an adult, he has learned to appreciate the application of words to unexpected meanings.

Ode to the Spell Checker

A wonderful poem that illustrates how dangerously we rely on spellcheck.

The King of Ing

At a mentoring clinic with Cec Muphey, Frank Ball learned how the progressive -ing verbs can be passive, weak writing. They often hinder the story’s rapid movement forward and sometimes show an ongoing action when a completed action was intended. For example, if we say, “John was buttoning his shirt,” we might wonder if he ever finished. What we really mean is: “John buttoned his shirt,” so that’s what we should say.

The Myth of Ith

On the train to the airport, Frank Ball grabbed a book on writing and settled in for the forty-five minute ride. As he did mental exercises, flipping scenes and creating unexpected twists, he came across a paragraph describing the painful sentence constructions made necessary because we have no singular pronoun for a person who might be either “he” or “she.”