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In this week's commonly confused words, we will look at the difference between amoral and immoral. Participating in our examples will be the cast of Person of Interest.

The first word I'll look at is immoral, which means 'not consistent with moral law or standards' or 'ethically wrong'. The word dates from the mid 1600s and is combination of 'in', meaning not, and 'moral'. Interestingly, when used as a legal term, immoral simply means 'contrary to common good or reasonable order'. Someone who is immoral, then, is not following established laws and standards. This could be anything from being involved in an affair to breaking laws because they aren't convenient. An example of using immoral is:

Even though Joss liked John as a person, as a police officer she couldn't help but find his wanton disregard of the law extraordinarily immoral at times.

Amoral, on the other hand, means 'lacking a moral sense' or being 'unconcerned with the rightness or wrongness of something'. So a person who is amoral might not be able to tell whether something that they have done is right or wrong, or simply may not care. Again being a combination, of 'a-' meaning not or without and 'moral', amoral is a far more recent word. First used in the 1880s, and possibly created by Robert Louis Stephenson simply as a differentiation from immoral, an example of using amoral is:

While Harold held himself to a very strict code, he considered John's approach more amoral -- he would do what was needed to protect the client.

As you can see from my examples, which both refer to the same character, not only is there a difference the meaning of amoral and immoral, but there is a difference in tone as well. Calling someone immoral is a judgement on their behaviour, but the word amoral is more impartial or neutral. Someone who is immoral violates norms, while someone amoral has no understanding of them. So when using these words, think about both the meaning and also the tone or association that you want to use. After all, if someone thinks your usage of amoral is immoral, they certainly aren't thinking very highly of you.

Amoral definition: https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/us/amoral, http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=amoral
Immoral definition: https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/us/immoral, http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=immoral

As Lewis Carroll's Alice observed, if you drink from a bottle marked "poison," it is almost certain to disagree with you sooner or later. But what about venom or a toxin? Today we'll take a look at these three terms and figure out what makes them different from one another.

(With the help of the cast of "Star Trek: The Original Series")

Hello, fellow grammar lovers, and welcome to another look at “Commonly Confused Words”! Today we’re going to learn about the difference between all together and altogether with a little help from the cast of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

Commonly confused words - ground vs. floor

Welcome back, grammar fans! [community profile] fandom_grammar has a lighter schedule during these summer months, but fear not, we still have interesting grammar issues to discuss! Today we’ll be talking about a couple of words that are very commonly used in place of each other. Ground and floor aren’t exactly the same thing, and we’ll get into their differences with some help from the characters of Sherlock.

Are you sure you don’t mean the ground floor?

Editorial - The Riot Act

When I was a very young grammarian, my mother would proclaim her readiness to read the riot act if her children got too rowdy, or too lazy, and I remember my baby-nerd delight when I found out that the Riot Act was once a genuine regulation. Ella Morton's 2014 article in Slate gives an overview that's the subject of our Fandom Grammar editorial today.

Reading About the Riot Act
Welcome to another Monday, and another Say What?. As much as we try to complete things in an expedient fashion, sometimes the evil of procrastination takes hold and we’re left scrambling at the last minute. Therefore, without delay, we’ll be looking at never put off until tomorrow what you can do today and procrastination is the thief of time, with some timely help from the characters of Jodi Taylor’s Chronicles of St. Mary’s.

I'll get around to it... eventually.
Happy Monday, grammar fans, and welcome to today’s post, in which we answer the question, “Is it ‘drips and drabs’ or ‘dribs and drabs’?” with a little help from the characters of Sherlock.
This Friday editorial is fun, plain and simple. The staff of The Week compiled 14 wonderful words with no English equivalent, and the headline is entirely accurate.

For all that James Nicoll's joke is true—English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary—there are still so many concepts we don't have words for in English. Sometimes these are locally influenced, such as distinct terms for snow in Inuktitut or for sweet potatoes in Hawaiian, but other times there are new ways of looking at life that other languages bring to the fore by naming them.


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