Anxious or Eager?

woman with pink hair with concerned look on her face and the words: Are you anxious or eager? (Yes, there's a difference.)

Confusing anxious for eager is a very common word usage error. In this post, we’ll learn the difference between anxious and eager and how to remember which is which.

“I am so anxious to see you!”

How many times have you heard or said this? I’m sure it’s a lot, right? However, most of the time, anxious was probably not the right word to use (unless you are talking about your dreaded Uncle Merv).

Anxious is linked to anxiety. So the feeling of anxious is a negative thing. Anxious is that feeling of unease, nervousness, and worry that you may experience before a big test, a presentation in front of your boss, or, sometimes, when you check your bank account.

Say your best friend is about to arrive for an out-of-town visit. You are excited to see her, you are happily thinking about all of the fun things you’ll do while she’s there, and you are counting down the hours till her arrival. If that’s the case, then you are not anxious to see her; you are eager.

Instead, you would say, “I am so eager to see you!”

Being eager means you are excited and impatient and you have a great desire to do something or have something.

Being eager is a positive thing, and most of the time, being anxious is viewed negatively.

Here are examples of anxious and eager used the correct way:

  • He is eager to get his package in the mail.
  • He is anxious to get all the bills he can’t pay.

 

  • She is eager to go to the school dance and show off her dress.
  • She is anxious that her first kiss will be a disaster.

In these examples, eager has a positive connotation and anxious has a negative connotation.

How to remember the difference
Simply remember that anxious is linked to anxiety.

You can also link eager to excited, since they both start with the letter E.

anxious = anxiety
eager = excited

Can these words be interchangeable?
There has been a trend of using anxious and eager interchangeably. However, I still think there should be a distinction. Remember that anxiety is a medical condition that often requires medication and treatment. It can be a very serious and life-altering condition for those who have it. Using the word so casually (and incorrectly) downplays and waters down, in my opinion, anxiety’s true severity. People who don’t have anxiety already tend not to understand how difficult living with it can be. Misusing it in our speech adds to this confusion and lack of knowledge.

Quiz
Determine whether to use anxious or eager in each sentence.

  1. Edwin is anxious/eager that he’ll lose in the video game.
  2. Edwin is anxious/eager to eat his favorite ice cream.
  3. Edwin is anxious/eager for the first day of school, thinking of all that could go wrong.
  4. Edwin is anxious/eager to open his birthday present.

Answers:
1. anxious 2. eager 3. anxious 4. eager

Erin Servais is the founder of Dot and Dash, LLC, an author-services company focusing on women writers and offering a range of editing, coaching, and social media packages.

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How to Remember Breathe vs. Breath

breathe vs breath

Mixing up breathe and breath is a really common error. Luckily, there’s an easy way to remember the difference between the verb and the noun.

If you are doing the action (verb) of taking in and letting out air, then use breathe with an E at the end. 

If you are referring to the thing (noun) that you are taking in and letting out, use breath—no E at the end.

To remember the difference, think about the letter E at the end of breathe. Then remember that the word verb has an E, but the word noun doesn’t.

So breathe = verb.

 

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Here are some sample sentences:

Martin was thankful he could breathe deeply when he recovered from his cold.
Francis took a deep breath before he jumped in the pool.

 

Quiz
Test your skills with a quiz. Fill in either breathe or breath in the blanks. The answers are at the bottom.

1. Fish ________ in water.
2. Marcy hated her boss because he had bad _______.
3. Do you think there are aliens who _______ something other than oxygen?
4. The doctors put Uncle George on a respirator because he couldn’t _______ well on his own.
5. Sally couldn’t take a good _______ because the air was filled with smoke.

Answers
1. breathe 2. breath 3. breathe 4. breathe 5. breath.

 

Erin Servais is the founder of Dot and Dash, LLC, an author-services company focusing on women writers and offering a range of editing, coaching, and social media packages.

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Origin of “May you live in interesting times”

interesting times

The coronavirus pandemic has caused me to think a lot lately about the saying “May you live in interesting times,” which is reported to be a Chinese curse. But just where does this adage really come from? We’ll investigate that today.

The Phrase Finder website says: “‘May you live in interesting times’ is widely reported as being of ancient Chinese origin but is neither Chinese nor ancient, being recent and western.”

According to the site, the phrase was originally said by the American politician, Frederic R. Coudert, in 1939. He referred to a letter Sir Austen Chamberlain wrote to him in which he stated:

. . . by return mail he wrote to me and concluded as follows: “Many years ago, I learned from one of our diplomats in China that one of the principal Chinese curses heaped upon an enemy is ‘May you live in an interesting age.'”

Despite this, it does not appear to actually come from China and is not clear to have existed before Sir Austen Chamberlain allegedly said it.

Note that then it appeared as “interesting age.” By the time Robert F. Kennedy included it in his “Day of Affirmation Address” in Capetown, South Africa, in 1966, it had morphed into “interesting times.”

There is a Chinese curse which says, “May he live in interesting times.” Like it or not, we live in interesting times. They are times of danger and uncertainty; but they are also the most creative of any time in the history of mankind.

Though the curse may not have been Chinese, what RFK said I hope applies today. It certainly feels dangerous and uncertain, but I hope wonderfully creative and positive things come out of this, as well.

 

Erin Servais is the founder of Dot and Dash, LLC, an author-services company focusing on women writers and offering a range of editing, coaching, and social media packages.

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The Difference Between Epidemic vs. Pandemic

epidemic vs pandemic

Epidemic and pandemic have similar meanings, but there is a slight difference between the two. And that difference has to do with size.

Epidemic
An epidemic is a disease that affects many people at the same time and spreads rapidly through a wide geographic area. The World Health Organization has added the clarification to their definition that an epidemic is considered to happen within a region or community.

Pandemic
A pandemic, then, is a disease outbreak that has spread beyond a region or community. A pandemic happens when many are sick at the same time at the level of country, continent, or the whole world.

So then a disease outbreak that sickens many people at the same time across the state of Texas would be considered an epidemic, but a disease outbreak that sickens many people at the same time across the entire United States would be considered a pandemic.

Erin Servais is the founder of Dot and Dash, LLC, an author-services company focusing on women writers and offering a range of editing, coaching, and social media packages.

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Is It Okay to Split an Infinitive?

a background of tropical leaves with the words on top: split infinitives

If you think back to your eleventh-grade English class, or if you’ve ever gone toe-to-toe with a pedantic member of the grammar police, you’ve probably heard that it’s not okay to split an infinitive.

Remember that an infinitive is a verb in its most basic form, with the word to and then the verb, such as

  • to love
  • to sleep
  • to play

A split infinitive is when an adverb is inserted between to and the verb. The most famous example comes from the opening to the original Star Trek TV series:

“to boldly go where no man has gone before”

Notice that boldly goes between to and go, thus splitting it. Here are some more examples of split infinitives:

  • to quickly write
  • to happily read
  • to frankly say

 

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Why do people think splitting infinitives is bad?
Basically, some people think it’s inelegant. This idea was made popular by Henry Alford, the dean of Canterbury, who, in 1864, said people shouldn’t do it because, ahem, they already weren’t doing it very often. He wrote in his book, The Queen’s English: “. . . this practice is entirely unknown to English speakers and writers.”

But that’s not true. Lord Byron used split infinitives before the dean even wrote his book, as did Thomas Cromwell, Daniel Defoe, Benjamin Franklin, and many others. But somehow having Alford proclaim this made split infinitives a taboo.

However, split infinitives are natural in our everyday speech. You’ve probably already spoken multiple split infinitives today without even realizing it. And, over the years, authorities on the English language have relaxed their view.

In 2019, the Associated Press Stylebook came out and said using the split infinitive can actually make sentences easier to read and can better convey meaning, reversing its previous suggestion on the matter. So, it’s okay to split infinitives if it makes your message clearer or if it sounds more natural.

Now I want you to go boldly forth and split away!

Erin Servais is the founder of Dot and Dash, LLC, an author-services company focusing on women writers and offering a range of editing, coaching, and social media packages.

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