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Title: Correct Or Wrong?
Description: Questions about phrases

Cathy1967 - September 1, 2011 08:48 PM (GMT)
I have written fan-fic for many, many years. Don't ask, because I'll feel very, very old if I have to tell you how long. <_<

Anyway, I have some ... phrases that I like to use (and that others out there use too, I'll bet) and I keep wondering if they're right or wrong. So, as I come up with them, I'll add them to this thread and hopefully some kindhearted spirit of the English language out there can tell me whether I'm doing this right or not. :D

Here goes:

1. He wrapped his hands around her throat, cutting off her air.
Or is it: He wrapped his hands around her neck, cutting off her air.

Which one of these two is the most correct? The way I see it, neck is the back, throat is the front, but then again ... throat is also the inside. What is correct? When I read the second version, I envision that he wraps his hands around the back of her neck, which won't do him much good if he wants to strangle her. But that may just simply be a misconception on my part. So ... can anyone tell me which one is correct?

aislinn - September 1, 2011 09:43 PM (GMT)
After reading your thoughts on this I would say throat.

Angel325girl - September 1, 2011 11:21 PM (GMT)
I would think throat but you could maybe throw both in there like "his hands moved up/down to her neck as his fingers wrapped around her throat, cutting off her air" That may sound too long of a sentence though and when I was in school my teachers always told me to try and shorten all my sentences. I would still use throat. It makes more sense and flows better I think then the other way but that could be just me.

Cathy1967 - September 2, 2011 06:19 AM (GMT)
Thank you for your insight. I personally like throat better. It sounds more right. But you never know. :D

Cathy1967 - September 2, 2011 01:57 PM (GMT)
So, here's the next one that trips me up when I write:

Is someone on your tail or on your trail?

Technically, both could be right, I guess. But ... which one is the real one?

From what I've been able to find in various dictionaries, it's tail, but then I've also seen trail used, which makes me wonder if both are right or if it's just one or the other.

bjxmas - September 2, 2011 02:15 PM (GMT)

Hey, Cathy! Awesome idea for a thread, so many things trip me up as a writer. Dictionary is my best friend since I tend towards using the wrong word and needing the reinforcement that I'm right.

These you present are a little harder to look up.

I'd say that your intent is the defining factor here (along with your personal preference). On your tail to me means dogging you, following you, on the trail to catching you.

A-ha...see how I morphed into on your trail? :blink:

So if they are literally tracking you, then you could say they are on your trail, following your every move, retracing your steps.

Hence, I think you could technically use both or either, depending on the tone and purpose of what you want to say.

I think I was successfully noncommittal there... perhaps I should look into the possibility of entering politics? :lol:

Good to see you here, stick around come the start of S7, okay? :hug:



Angel325girl - September 2, 2011 04:47 PM (GMT)
I would use both too but it depends which flows better. I mean they both can but what sounds more like it fits to the tone of the story/paragraph like Bj said. You would just know which one pops out to you if you read both scenarios and try to imagine which one sounds more imaginable for your characters/story. I know this is what I do too.

This is what I think the difference is though. Trailing you means they're following you and a little farther away as tailing you means they're a little more closer like right on your heels or around the corner. lol

Cathy1967 - September 2, 2011 04:51 PM (GMT)
Ah, so I didn't do anything wrong when I use on your trail. :lol: Good to know.

And don't worry, BJ, I'm around. I'm just not very active right now. I'm working on a story. :fire

Got a bit of an issue, though. I have no living clue what to call the damned thing. :D I'm already 5 pages into it and still no title. :blink:

Which brings me to my next brain-twister:

When you spell something out for someone, can you 'cut it out in cardboard'? It's a commonly used term in Denmark (in Danish) but that doesn't mean you can use it in English. I've used it in a few stories and recently an American colleague said he had no clue what I meant when I used that term. Now, let's be fair, he's not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but it just tripped me up a little. So ... can you actually say that in English?

Irishgirl - September 2, 2011 09:31 PM (GMT)
Cool thread, Cathy.

I've never heard of that expression until now. You can use it, but your readers might not know what you mean.

Cathy1967 - September 2, 2011 10:30 PM (GMT)
Thought so. :D Thanks Irish. It's just funny that nobody's ever mentioned not understanding it. I've used it a few times. :lol: My poor readers. They must think I'm wacko. :D

And here's another one:

Trip the light fantastic.

I know what the phrase means and I've always thought it was kinda cool, but is it common or won't most people know what it means? I don't see it being used in connection with Supernatural since the boys don't really do a whole lot of dancing, but ... still. It sounds kinda exotic. B)

bjxmas - September 8, 2011 07:48 PM (GMT)
I think most understand the term 'trip the light fantastic' but it's something that I probably wouldn't you said, not too relevant to the boys! :lol:

Of course, if you were writing a crack!fic then I'd say go for it if you like the phrase...besides, it might be your only chance to use it in relation to Sam and Dean! :D

Cathy, I expect to see you in the Frustrated thread once the new season starts! And I totally get the writing and preoccupied bit, that's me 90% of the time. I've got too many ideas and stories in the works and not enough time to finish them out or post. :blink:



Cathy1967 - September 9, 2011 06:44 AM (GMT)
Thanks for the feeback BJ. :D Always appreciated. And no, I really can't see this being used in connection with the boys unless we're talking alternate universe or some such fun.

:blink: Damn, I just had another one, but it slipped away again. I'll be back when I remember it. :D

Cathy1967 - September 11, 2011 08:36 PM (GMT)
Okay, this one isn't correct or wrong, but more a question of how you would say it.

If you've been sitting down on a hard surface for too long, your butt can get kinda achy. Now, in Danish we have a specific word for that, which is hard to translate. Does that exist in English?

Let me make an example:

After sitting on the hard bench for hours without end, he was beginning to ... what? What would you say there? It seems kinda coarse to say his butt was asleep or achy.

The Danish expression is that the hard surface gives you a 'wooden taste in your butt', which is why I'm claiming it's hard to translate. Also ... I kinda think that could be misunderstood. :lol: So ... any help?

bjxmas - September 12, 2011 12:51 AM (GMT)

The danish sure do have interesting sayings! :D

I can't think of anything specific...but I'd say something like, He was beginning to ache in all the wrong places. Or he was stiff and sore from sitting too long. Or simply that his butt hurt from sitting on a hard surface too long.

Basically, I think I'd try to avoid the subject and not be faced with this quandary. ;)

It is fascinating hearing what other people around the world say. I'm lazy and American so I don't have to try and figure out translations. I know my friends in England who write have to change certain things to Americanize them. I'm lucky and don't have to. :ph43r:



Cathy1967 - September 12, 2011 09:33 PM (GMT)
Yeah, we do, don't we? :lol: Sometimes I wonder where some of them come from. Like one that I've never really understood the meaning of and have been too lazy to look up: If it rains on the preacher it drips on the parish clerk. :blink: What? :unsure: Anyway ...

I've gone with a less descriptive way of indicating a ... uhm ... lack of blood circulation in certain areas. :lol:

I'll be back once I stumble across the next one ... hmm ... which I just did.

Do you stumble across or over a fact? Or can both be used?

Irishgirl - September 13, 2011 04:37 AM (GMT)
If I find learn something new, I say I stumbled across it. If I'm having trouble with something, I say I stumbled over it.

If it rains on the preacher it drips on the parish clerk.

:lol: I don't know what it means, but I think it's funny.

My mom has always said 'Lord love a duck.' I never quite new what it mean.

Angel325girl - September 13, 2011 04:54 AM (GMT)
if I'm reading that right it would be stumble across a fact. Stumble over just sounds like you're stumbling over something on the ground. You can use them both but I don't think they have the same meaning. Well, they might but I can see how that would trip some people up. Which is the correct term and definition. *shrugs* It's interesting to see what people use too.

That's interesting about the Danish expression and I can just see people's reactions to "wooden taste in your butt". I've never heard that one before but now I know what it means if I ever stumble across it. :)

bjxmas - September 13, 2011 01:00 PM (GMT)
QUOTE (Irishgirl @ Sep 13 2011, 04:37 AM)
My mom has always said 'Lord love a duck.' I never quite knew what it mean.

WE like that expression, don't we, duckies! Clif approves. :D :lol: :P

My dad and, I later learned, his sister always said, "Well, wouldn't that just frost your apples!" :blink:

I never asked or was sure where it came from, but I got the gist of's something that annoyed you or was bad.

I used the expression in a story once just hoping someone would comment on it, maybe tell me the history or something. Nope, not a peep about it.



Cathy1967 - September 13, 2011 01:17 PM (GMT)
There are so many weird sayings out there. I finally got my act together and looked into the 'preacher' thing. Turns out it has nothing to do with preachers or rain for that matter. What it means is that if you say win the lottery, someone close to you might get lucky too if you decide to be generous. :D

Frost your apples? :lol: See, that one could totally be misunderstood. I would assume a saying like that would come from an apple farmer? And that 'frosting your apples' may have started out as a bad thing?

To me it sounds mostly like it's something surprising or special in some way. "Well, would you look at that?" could be similar to "Well, wouldn't that just frost your apples?" :lol:

I am trying to stay out of the gutter here, okay? :D But with all those weird sayings ... it's tough. :D

There are tons of strange little sayings in Danish that are fun to play with.

Like: Burnt child shuns fire, which basically means once bitten, twice shy. People here like to play around with sayings like that and it ends up being something like: Burnt child shoots fire. :D

Don't ask. :blink:

bjxmas - September 14, 2011 02:48 AM (GMT)
QUOTE (Cathy1967 @ Sep 2 2011, 01:57 PM)
Is someone on your tail or on your trail?

From TV Guide describing the new Sarah Michelle Geller show Ringer :

It's clear from the start that we're intended to root for Bridget, a recovering addict and former exotic dancer who flees Wyoming with the FBI (and agent Nestor Carbonell) on her tail, as the imperiled only witness to a murder.

As I was reading it (and knowing where they were going with their comment) I mentally filled in on her trail!

So maybe on her tail is the more correct wording???

I sometimes have verbal dyslexia anyway and end up mixing up my phrases. :blink:



Cathy1967 - September 15, 2011 06:00 PM (GMT)
QUOTE (bjxmas @ Sep 14 2011, 03:48 AM)
QUOTE (Cathy1967 @ Sep 2 2011, 01:57 PM)
Is someone on your tail or on your trail?

From TV Guide describing the new Sarah Michelle Geller show Ringer :

It's clear from the start that we're intended to root for Bridget, a recovering addict and former exotic dancer who flees Wyoming with the FBI (and agent Nestor Carbonell) on her tail, as the imperiled only witness to a murder.

As I was reading it (and knowing where they were going with their comment) I mentally filled in on her trail!

So maybe on her tail is the more correct wording???

I sometimes have verbal dyslexia anyway and end up mixing up my phrases. :blink:



You know, if there's one thing I've learned the hard way then it is that you can't trust what you read in the news. They can't spell worth crap. :lol: Of course, it's good to know that seasoned reporters don't know the difference either. I feel less guilty about using the wrong thing that way. :D

So, here's another oddity from the Danish language:

It's blowing half a pelican.

See, that one makes no sense whatsoever. It means it's pretty damned stormy out there, but how that has anything to do with half a pelican I do not know. :blink: I have looked it up and the guess is that it's a funny rewrite of hurricane, but ... :unsure: I don't know. :D

Angel325girl - September 15, 2011 06:10 PM (GMT)
It's blowing half a pelican? Oh man, I should use that when it storms real bad here. That's at least more funnier then it's raining cats and dogs. But I don't know why they chose half a pelican either.

Cathy1967 - September 15, 2011 08:48 PM (GMT)
Feel free to start a trend. :D Maybe some of these weird sayings we have here in Denmark could spread that way. :lol:

goofyape - September 20, 2011 04:03 AM (GMT)
Hey---This is interesting.....I just began to read fan fiction again and stumbled across this thread LOL
It's funny how one can tell a writer from the UK by phrases like "Fancy a coke?" instead of the American "Wanna coke?" I saw the first phrase in one of the first stories I ever read and knew instantly the writer wasn't American LOL
Then there's the telltale ou--as in "flavour " instead of "flavor" or talking about "mates " instead of "pals" .... or being in a pub instead of a bar....or stopping for petrol instead of gas... :lol:

Cathy1967 - September 20, 2011 04:43 PM (GMT)
Yeah, I myself am guilty like hell of using bloody all the time, which I kinda figure isn't really all that American. So if Dean says bloody in one my stories ... well, he just seems to have picked up a few words from Crowley. :lol:

So ... here's the next one.

You're not making life any easier on yourself or for yourself? Which is correct?

On sounds right to me, but for seems to be grammatically more correct. So ... what do you guys think?

Celticwench - September 20, 2011 06:49 PM (GMT)
I'd say either is correct actually.

Yeah---I've also seen stories where the guys say "bloody" this or that and I guess it's Crowley's influence LOL
The most hilarious one I've seen was when Dean opened the "boot" and got out a salt gun and then later on he and Sam took the stairs in a building because the "lift" had demons in it :lol:

Angel325girl - September 20, 2011 07:15 PM (GMT)
I think either is correct to. They mean the same thing bit some reason your sounds more proper.

and I wanted to say something on the tail and trail thing. In the one Nikita sneek peek Alex is talking in to the phone and says' "It's me. I picked up on Nikita's trail. I'm coming in." So I guess it's just the wording because if she said "she picked up on her tail." well that wouldn't make any sense. lol.

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