Calliope Writing

Test Your Vocabulary with These Kickass Quizzes
January 8, 2016, 2:25 pm
Filed under: Language | Tags: , , ,

Since I’m a writer and editor by trade, folks assume I have a wicked vocabulary.

silly rabbits

I access Merriam-Webster more times in a week than I can count, and I have no problem asking someone what a word means if I’m unsure. After all, as Confucius said, “True wisdom is knowing what you don’t know.”

If you can relate and want to sharpen those word skills, check out the following vocabulary quizzes . . . and don’t worry. No one needs to know your score.

Test Your Vocabulary: Commonly Confused Words

Deep-seated or deep-seeded? Adverse or averse? You might think this seven-question quiz will be a piece of cake . . . but you could be overestimating your vocabulary skills.

(I missed two of these questions. Doh! You can guaran-damn-tee that I won’t get those words mixed up ever again.)

11 Words You Should’ve Learned in School

Only missed one of these, bitches! (Deciduous – who the hell had that on a vocab quiz in school? Not me.)

But I gotta be honest – a few of these had a big old question mark appearing over my head. Glad to know that my deductive reasoning skills are passable.

How Well Do You Know Your Antonyms? (a.k.a. If You’re Over the Age of Five, You’ll Ace It)


This one’s easy. VERY easy. It’s here to make you feel better if you bombed the above quizzes. So enjoy going back to kindergarten and working on your opposites! (If you miss any of these, it’s okay – I’ll still be your friend. I just won’t think as highly of you.)

And enjoy the Rick-Roll.

Is it a Real Word or Just James Joyce?

James Joyce, you’re such a silly thing. All you Joyce fans will surely get a kick out of this BuzzFeed quiz.

For the record, I clearly haven’t read enough Joyce.

Some Extra Stuff

castle nanowrimo

  • Want to write in a castle? Duh. Of course you do. We all want to. And now we all have a chance to spend NaNoWriMo in a castle…for $4k. Damn, I wish I hadn’t spent my rainy-day fund.
  • Print magazines still exist, dammit! And BuzzFeed has listed some freaking awesome ones here. (I’m most intrigued by The Happy Reader, for obvious reasons.)

And My Spirit Song for Today Is…

This. Play it loud and proud, and rock the eff out. Oh, but be aware that it’s NSFW.

For the Love of All Things Holy, Don’t Let That Modifier Dangle!
July 21, 2015, 3:21 pm
Filed under: Grammar, Language | Tags: , , ,

As an editor, I see a lot of grammatical errors. Using “you’re” when it should have been “your.” “Should of” used instead of “should have.”

And then there’s the dreaded dangling modifier.

Yes, that’s a fancy-sounding phrase, but the issue is a real one (no, not bad enough for you to break out the hand sanitizer and SARS mask).

Before we jump into dangling modifiers, let’s do a quick grammar refresher on modifiers.

modifier definition

Here are a couple of examples to get you in the mood for modifiers:

Disgusted, the zombie spit out the fake brains.

In the above, “Disgusted” is the modifier that describes “the zombie.”

Throwing the pine cone, the sasquatch hoped to confuse its hunters.

In this example, “Throwing the pine cone” is the modifier that describes “the sasquatch.”

Easy-peasy, right? So what the hell is a dangling modifier?

dangling modifier definition

Thanks, sasquatch, for letting us use your fur!

Now the real moment of fun has arrived: FUN EXAMPLES!

Source: someecards

Source: someecards

And now, one from yours truly:

Walking home slowly, the most awesome of all unicorns was on Amanda’s mind.

Source: You're reading words created by her, pal.

Source: You’re reading words created by her, pal.

The moral of the story?


Source: Inkygirl

In all seriousness, don’t let your modifiers dangle, guys.

Source: You're reading words created by her, pal.

Source: You’re reading words created by her, pal.

It’s just not cool.

Did I help explain dangling modifiers, and do you see how annoying they are? Sound off in the comments below.

My Inner Self Might Be a Grammar Nazi
June 11, 2015, 3:16 pm
Filed under: Grammar, Language | Tags: , , ,

Update 6/16/15: Taylor Swift is not a fan of grammar Nazis.

Grammar Nazi 2According to Urban Dictionary, a grammar Nazi is “someone who believes it’s their duty to attempt to correct any grammar and/or spelling mistakes they observe.”

While I certainly don’t lurk on blogs and social media, writing snarky comments to show others how dumb they are, I definitely notice when I see a grammar mistake, whether it be on your tweet, her vlog description, or his article in a print magazine. And deep down, I want so badly to call offenders out on their errors (yes, even in public forums). But I don’t.

Not yet, anyway.


No one’s exactly sure how the term “grammar Nazi” came about, but it’s speculated that the first time it was used (really the first documentation of its use) was on January 18, 1991, in the Usenet group comp.sys.apple2. So to whom can the phrase be attributed?

Unfortunately, the individual is known as nothing other than “The Unknown User.” After a group member commented “Ok, I posted a message on this subject earlier with sort of a ‘rediculous’…” The Unknown User responded, “ridiculous. I’m a card carrying member of the Spelling and Grammar Nazis of America.”

…And Some Take it a Little Too Seriously

The Wall Street Journal recently reported on an…interesting…situation in Moscow involving Alexei Pavlovsky, local coordinator of Total Dictation, a Russian spelling and grammar contest.

According to Pavlovsky, Russian authorities questioned him about a couple of slightly bizarre topics:

“First they started asking me about Total Dictation and my other social initiatives, then they politely asked me what I know about ‘grammar Nazis’ and if they sponsored my activities. They also asked what feelings I have toward people who make [grammatical] mistakes and whether I have a desire to destroy them.”

Whoa. NSA, if you’re reading, I am not a Nazi of any sort, and I do not encourage fascism.

Grammar Nazi 1

Now on to the Lighter Side

Please enjoy.

Grammar Nazi 3

The video gets bonus points for its Oxford comma joke.

You Can Be a Grammar Nazi, Too!

wikiHow has a handy-dandy guide with only seven steps.

My favorite of the seven? Number three:

Listen carefully to what a speaker says and ask for clarification if you need it.This will ensure that you fully understand what they said and aren’t criticizing them for mistakes they didn’t make. Use your manners, of course, and do not interrupt them while they are talking.

Need more proof that you’re a grammar Nazi? There are plenty of social media pages for that. No joke. Grammar Nazi Party is just one–a Facebook page with the description, “We are overwriting the bad reputation of Grammar Nazis everywhere and making a good name for ourselves as helpers of the Internet!”

You can't convince me that this kitty is evil.

You can’t convince me that this kitty is evil.

What’s your opinion? Devil or angel? Are grammar Nazis just good Samaritans who want to help others achieve grammatical glory, or are they assholes who want to make other people feel stupid?

Eff a Duck. My Consistency Sucks.
May 12, 2015, 7:10 pm
Filed under: Language | Tags: , ,

sayingsSince I try to be kid-friendly in almost everything I do (there may be a couple of social media accounts where I let my curse-ridden freak flag fly), I couldn’t indulge in the entire rhyming phrase I muttered to myself when I visited my blog today.

F–k a duck. I can’t believe I’ve once again let you down, my faithful readers. All twelve of you. It’s been four months since I last checked in.

This time I’m not messing around. I promise you, my four followers, a blog post with a nugget of literary- or language-related goodness by the end of the week. And two to four posts weekly from here on out.

Back to the ducks.


Don’t worry, little one…you’re a goose, not a duck.

It seems that the first time the phrase “f–k a duck” was put down on paper was in Henry Miller’s Tropic of CancerWay to utilize the ever-popular literary tool of the rhyme, Henry.

As Slate reports:

Linguistic experts claim that the original inspi­ration [of the phrase ‘f–k a duck’] was the word duckfucker, the person on board a trans­atlantic ship who was charged with keeping the domestic animals alive, rather than pleasuring them in exotic ways. This word in turn entered American stoner slang as a term for an annoying idiot.

And now you’ve learned something new.

Come back later this week for another post–or even better, formally follow my blog (the little “follow” is either at the bottom right or upper left of your screen) so you don’t miss the next one!

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