U SUCK @ GRAMMER: Biweekly Edition

I'm teaming up with a very smart and grammatically correct friend of mine named Ashley to bring you a new segment called:

U SUCK @ GRAMMER*

Together, she and I will try to shed light on some common, confusing grammar mistakes and in doing so, attempt to chip away at the doomsday of proper language that is the internet.  Ashley is going to help me choose topics, elucidate them, and correct my grammar if I ever get sloppy. (So basically, I'm going to make a lot of snarky comments while she makes sure I don't look bad.)

When discussing writing our new segment, I posited that it should be biweekly, to which Ashley replied, "biweekly? I think two times a week is too frequent," to which I replied, "I mean every two weeks, Ashley." We argued back and forth, and out of this confusion came our first edition:

WHAT THE HELL DOES BIWEEKLY MEAN?

Though I should have learned my lesson about online dictionaries by now, we turned to what we thought was a reputable source to resolve our conflict.  Miriam-Webster says:


Thanks, M-W, that was super helpful.  So, yes, apparently "biweekly" can mean both.  But further investigation indicates that biweekly is supposed to be used to mean every two weeks; the term "semi-weekly," which literally means "once every half week," is the proper term to indicate twice a week.  As a common example: a "biweekly" payroll period is a paycheck every two weeks. But don't confuse biweekly with "semimonthly," because though one would think that there are four weeks in a month, half of which would be both biweekly and semimonthly, there are actually 26 biweekly pay periods in a year, but only 24 semimonthly pay periods in a year. (That means if, like me, you get paid on the 1st and the 15th, you get two fewer paychecks a year than your biweekly friends. Thanks for nothing, biweekly.)

Though semi-weekly and biweekly both have their proper meanings, there is always the potential for confusion.  As our friend Grammar Girl puts it, "You can feel smart if you know the difference between biweekly and semiweekly, but if you write your invitations using those words half the people will probably show up on the wrong day."  So, to be safely understood, go with the term "twice a week" if you mean twice a week, "every two weeks" if you mean every two weeks (or "fortnightly," if you're pretentious), and cut out the term biweekly all together.  Unless you're starting a weekly publication for bisexuals – then by all means call it "Bi Weekly."

As for us: we decided to write our column once a month.

Love,

The Strunk and White Girls.

*Grammar is intentionally spelled incorrectly to parody ironically incorrect use of the word. Don't be a douchenozzle and try to point out that we spelled it wrong.
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10 comments

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Preston
AUTHOR
August 11, 2011 at 1:29 PM delete

Hmmm... should douche-nozzle be hyphenated?

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Scott
AUTHOR
August 11, 2011 at 2:14 PM delete

You started a sentence with a contraction in a column about grammar.

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Scott
AUTHOR
August 11, 2011 at 2:15 PM delete

Hahaha - I meant conjunction. (double facepalm)

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Alison
AUTHOR
August 11, 2011 at 2:53 PM delete

"Yes, you can begin a sentence with a coordinating conjunction!

Some teachers warn that beginning a sentence with a coordinating conjunction is wrong. Teachers will typically tell you this because they are trying to help you avoid writing fragments. Other times teachers give this advice because their preference is that a sentence not begin with a coordinating conjunction.

What you should remember is that you break no grammar rule if you begin a sentence with a coordinating conjunction."

http://www.chompchomp.com/terms/coordinatingconjunction.htm

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Anonymous
AUTHOR
August 11, 2011 at 2:55 PM delete

Question: If it's Wednesday, and I invite people out for "next weekend," am I inviting them out in 2 days or 9 days? I would argue that next implies the weekend after *this* weekend. Thoughts?

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iZombie
AUTHOR
August 11, 2011 at 3:07 PM delete

I am completely afraid to respond, I always make mistakes.

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Ben
AUTHOR
August 11, 2011 at 3:22 PM delete

Poppicock! Bi is a superior prefix in almost all situations. The use of Bi only encounters problems when a thing can be bisected to create two equal halves or doubled to create two equal things. The use of semi is inferior because of its indefinite connotation. Semi can mean to halve but it also mean partial, indefinite, or connote the opposite of the word it is intending to modify. For example I am a semi-pro in beer pong, my reply is semi-awesome, or I am semi-intelligent. I don't believe that semi should ever be used unless one is a) intending to be indefinite in their statements or b) using a commonly accepted usage, such as semicircle.

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ash
AUTHOR
August 11, 2011 at 9:35 PM delete

Anonymous, I agree. I prefer 'this' for the weekend that is less than four days away, and use 'next' for the following weekend. Misunderstandings often arise in these situations.

iZombie, you should have said, 'I am completely afraid to respond; I always make mistakes.'

;)

—Strunk and White Ashley

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Legal Maven
AUTHOR
August 11, 2011 at 11:41 PM delete

I'm looking forward to these grammar lessons!!!!

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Hopelessly_Lost
AUTHOR
August 28, 2011 at 12:26 AM delete

Alison, totally off-topic, but.... Anyone who has a portrait of Ash Williams (Bruce Campbell) from the Army of Darkness movie as a permanent fixture on their blog is awesome in my book. Furthermore, I was quite impressed with your "About Me" section (YES to Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, The Godfather, and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid!!!!). Oh, and you have a lovely smile - your dentist/fiance is quite a lucky guy.

As a soon-to-be law school graduate, where is your (Southern) California counterpart (i.e. clone)?

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