Grammar Hammer: Shinny vs. Shimmy

Months ago, I received a Grammar Hammer suggestion to look at the difference between the words “shinny” and “shimmy.” The person who suggested this topic to me said she’d never heard the word “shinny.” I’ll confess, I hadn’t heard of it either. I wondered if shinny was an eggcorn (a word or phrase that results…

Grammar Hammer: Is That Adverb Necessary?

If you were a child of the 70s and 80s, ABC’s animated series Schoolhouse Rock  left an indelible mark. Many of us can trace a love for history, mathematics, science and – of course – grammar to the show’s clever, musical episodes. In honor of the back to school season, ABC aired a tv special last month ranking the…

Grammar Hammer: Elicit vs. Illicit

Elicit and illicit might sound similar, but technically they are not homophones and their meanings are vastly different.  The words are occasionally confused due to their similar pronunciation and spelling, which is why they are the focus of today’s Grammar Hammer. “Elicit” is a verb that means “to obtain.” It can also mean “to draw out, to extract,…

Grammar Hammer: Whiling Away the Hours

I often see “wile away the hours” used interchangeably with “while away the hours,” so which is correct? Technically, they both are, but there are some subtle differences one should consider. “To while away the hours” means to “pass time idly” or to “pass time, especially in some leisurely or pleasant manner.” For example, “I spent hours…