QUES­TION /ASK

The Borneo Post - Good English - - Short Story Section -

WHEN you ques­tion some­one, you may ask a se­ries of ques­tions try­ing to ar­rive at the truth: “MACC of­fi­cers ques­tioned Tom for five hours be­fore he ad­mit­ted to al­ter­ing the com­pany ac­counts.”

“Ques­tion” can also mean “chal­lenge”: “His mother ques­tioned Timmy’s claim that the cat had eaten all the choco­late chip cook­ies.” But if you are sim­ply ask­ing a ques­tion to get a bit of in­for­ma­tion, it is not ap­pro­pri­ate to say “I ques­tioned whether he had brought the an­chovies” when what you re­ally mean is “I

asked whether he had brought the an­chovies.”

TAKEN BACK/TAKEN ABACK

When you’re star­tled by some­thing, you’re taken aback by it. When you’re re­minded of some­thing from your past, you’re taken back to that time.

TAPE, RECORD

As time goes on, we are less and less likely to record sound or video

onto a phys­i­cal elec­tro­mag­netic tape. More and more of­ten, such record­ings are made onto com­puter hard drives or solid-state de­vices.

Yet the word “tape” lives on to la­bel the ac­tiv­ity in­volved. We say we are go­ing to tape an in­ter­view, tape a dance recital, or tape a new

greet­ing for our voice mail, even when no tape is in­volved.

TAUNT/TAUT/TOUT

Med­i­cal per­son­nel of­ten mis­tak­enly re­fer to a pa­tient’s ab­domen as “taunt” rather than the cor­rect “taut.” “Taunt” (“tease” or “mock”) can be a verb or noun, but never an ad­jec­tive. “Taut” means “tight, dis­tended,” and is al­ways an ad­jec­tive. “Taut” is also oc­ca­sion­ally mis­spelled “taught.”

Don’t con­fuse “taunt” with “tout,” which means “pro­mote,” as in “Sen­a­tor Brookes has been touted as a Pres­i­den­tial can­di­date.” You tout some­body you ad­mire and taunt some­one that you don’t.

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