Imply vs. infer

imply vs infer

It’s easy to understand why people get imply and infer confused. Their meanings are related and similar. In this post, I will explain what these two words mean and show you how you can remember the difference between the two.

imply: to suggest or express something in an indirect way

For example, if you are talking to your friend, and you notice their breath reeks of garlic and onions, you may pull out a tin of mints and say “Want one?” as a way of expressing to them indirectly that their breath stinks. In this case, you are implying they have smelly breath.

infer: to conclude, especially from an indirect suggestion

For example, if you just ate garlic and onions for lunch, and your friend asks you if you want a mint, you could infer from their indirect suggestion that you have smelly breath.

Memory aid
When you infer, you are taking in information to analyze in order to come to a conclusion.

So taking in information = infer since they both use in.

You can just remember that imply means the opposite.

With imply, you are putting out suggestions.

With infer, you are taking in information.

Quiz:
Choose either imply or infer for the spaces below.

  1. Trixie yawned and yawned in order to _____ to her guests that it was late and she wanted them to leave.
  2. Trixie looked at her failing quiz grades and _____ed she needed to study really hard for the final.
  3. Trixie stopped answering Brad’s texts, trying to _____ that she didn’t want to talk to him anymore.
  4. Brad gave Trixie flowers and asked what she was doing Friday night, _____ing he wanted to go on a date with her.
  5. When her aunt asked whether she ever wanted kids, Trixie burst out laughing. Her aunt _____ed her answer was no.

1) imply; 2) inferred; 3) imply 4) implying; 5) inferred

Erin Servais is a book editor, author coach, and owner of Dot and Dash LLC, an author-services company helping women reach their publishing goals. To see whether her services are right for you, and to schedule your free five-page sample edit or thirty-minute coaching consultation, email her at Erin@dotanddashllc.com.

 You can also read her blog about writing here: Dot and Dash blog

 Follow Erin on social media:

Twitter: @GrammarParty
Instagram: @dot_and_dash_llc
Facebook: facebook.com/dotanddashllc

 

Advertisements

Stop Calling Women “Girls” (Including in Fiction Writing)

It’s not okay to call a woman a “girl” in most cases when writing fiction (and, you know, in life in general)

smiling woman with red hair and red lips

Look at this woman / human / person / lady.

It used to be that men got away with calling women a lot of offensive terms—in the office, on the street, and in their own homes—on a range of intolerability. Now, thanks to #metoo and empowering each other through a global online connection of sisterhood (rah rah!), women aren’t tolerating any of these words any longer.

Sometimes change is made most effectively through education. There are words all people know are offensive, and there are others they have to be taught are.

This is where “girls” comes in. I know personally that a lot of male authors (and some female ones) don’t realize calling a woman a “girl” can come across as offensive, and polite and respectful education can really make a difference here. So, as part of a general sensitivity read I conduct while editing, I will change the word “girl” to “woman” (or “girls” to “women”) when I come across a situation that warrants change and explain, respectfully and professionally, why I did what I did.

 

When it’s not okay to use “girls”

Most of the time, when a character or narrator refers to any female person who is older than eighteen, it is not appropriate to call them a “girl.” This is especially true when there is a power dynamic that puts the man on top, such as when he is talking to an underling at work.

When it is okay to use “girls”

Obviously when a character or narrator is referring to a child, “girl” is the correct option. But there’s another case when I keep an author’s use of “girl” while editing.

When an adult female character is talking casually with another adult female character, I find it okay for them to call each other “girls.” There are several words in the English language that are defamatory in general but are accepted in use within a specific group, when the group has inverted the negative connotation. But the key is the word can only be used by a member of that particular group about a member in the same group.

This means a woman can call another woman a “girl” and it be okay.

Think about a woman (in real life or fiction) saying to another woman:

“I could really use a girls’ night.”

“Wow, girl, you are looking fantastic!”

“Girl, don’t you wish we made the same amount of money as men for the same work and that wrinkly, old white men would stop trying to legislate what we do with our own bodies?”

“Yeah, girl, I know.”

All of these statements (and similar ones) are acceptable between one woman to another.

A third time when it’s okay to use “girls” is when the character or narrator intends to be offensive. If you’re writing about a creep or a lecherous jerk, then it would make sense that they would call a woman a “girl.” My aim in this post is to help writers avoid situations when they would be unintentionally offensive.

Alternatives to “girls”

Don’t worry. There are lots of other words you could use instead:

· gals

· ladies

· friends

· folks

· people

· humans

· or just their names

There you go! Such a small change can go a long way to making your readers feel respected, and making you look (and feel) good in the process.

This is a cross post with the Dot and Dash blog. While you’re there, you can read my other posts about writing and check out my book editing and author coaching services.

 

Why I’m Giving to Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library and You Should Too

 

dolly

I am grateful to my clients and for my work at Dot and Dash, my author services company, and I’m thankful to be in a position where I can give back to my global community in a way that mirrors Dot and Dash’s commitment to empowerment and the promotion of creativity.

Starting now, I am donating 1.25 percent of my earnings from Dot and Dash to Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. Her organization mails one free children’s book a month to any child who signs up for the program until they enter kindergarten. Since the Imagination Library’s launch in 1995, she has mailed more than 100 million books to one million plus children.

My life and work are built around the wonders of the written word, and I’m am honored to be able to help bring this world to today’s children.

Take note of these statistics about US literacy:

  • Thirty-four percent of children entering kindergarten lack the basic language skills needed to learn how to read. (1)

  • One out of six children who do not read at their age level in third grade will not go on to graduate high school. (2)

  • By grade four, 65 percent of students already do not read at their grade level. (3)

  • Ninety-three million adults in the United States read at or below the basic level needed to contribute successfully to society. (1)

It’s vital we do what we can to help kids have the best chance at a good future. Introducing them to reading at an early age is an easy way we can help. Through Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, just $2 per month will send one high-quality, age-appropriate book to a child. I hope you consider giving too: https://imaginationlibrary.com/

  1. https://www.rif.org/sites/default/files/Literacy-Facts-Stats.pdf

  2. https://www.aecf.org/blog/poverty-puts-struggling-readers-in-double-jeopardy-minorities-most-at-risk/

  3. https://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/pdf/coe_cnb.pdf

 

Erin Servais runs Dot and Dash LLC, which serves independent, women author-entrepreneurs through collaborative and positive-minded book editing, critiquing, and coaching to empower them to reach their publishing dreams. Learn more: www.dotanddashllc.com

Ho Ho How Do You Punctuate That?

santa

It’s getting to be that time of year when children close their eyes and fantasize about an old, fat man breaking into their house while they sleep naïvely in false security in their bedrooms.

“Ho! Ho! Ho!” the man says to himself as he places consumer goods under a tree that for some reason has been moved to their living room.

Wait. Perhaps he says “Ho ho ho!” instead. Just how many exclamation points does this slavemaster of reindeer use?

Let’s turn to the authorities. Here’s what Merriam-Webster has to say:

Screen Shot 2018-12-06 at 10.24.56 AM.png

There you have it. Three hos and one exclamation point.

Ho ho ho! Merry Christmas (etc.) to you!

Erin Servais is a professional book editor who is really hoping she won’t get coal this Christmas. Learn more about how she can help you reach your publishing goals here: Dot and Dash website.

Bring vs. Take

take

When determining whether to use bring or take, consider movement.

Use bring when moving something toward a specific place or person.

Sally brings the potato salad to Jerry.
Frieda is bringing her salsa-dancing skills to the stage.
The dog brought his human to the park.

Use take when moving something away from a specific place or person.

Dolly takes the books from the library.
Marge is taking her favorite sweater back from Nina.
Larry took advice from his boss.

Casual speech: When speaking with friends and others using informal speech, bring and take are often used interchangeably. However, it’s good to know the difference when the situation calls for formal speech or writing.

Quiz:
Choose either bring or take to fill in the blanks below.

  1. In the past, Marty always ______ his famous nacho cheese dip to the party.
  2. The dog ______ her leash to her human when she wants to go out.
  3. “I can’t stand Charles anymore,” she said. “All he does is ______ things from me!”
  4. Tracy is _______ what she learned in the classroom and is _______ it to the real world.
  5. Layla ______ her second-place trophy from the award table.

 

Answers: 1) brought 2) brings 3) take 4) taking, bringing 5) took