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Grammar Police Monday - Don't Be Obtuse

I’ve got a short lesson on usage lined up for today, with an added bonus for those of you who make it to the end. :) 

But first, a funny side note... 

I'll be posting about critiques this Wednesday, and it made me think of something my son said once. 

Son #2 (10 & homeschooled at the time) leaned over and looked at my screen when I was in the middle of a critique and asked me what I was doing. 

"I'm making comments about this man's book to help him improve his writing," I told him.

"Does he give you crap about what you do?"

"Yes, honey. He gives me 'crap' about my writing, too."

LOL - Kids! :D

Accurate vs precise
Although precise is sometimes given as a synonym for accurate, the two are not exactly the same. Accurate means free from error whereas precise means strictly stated, defined, or fixed.

His answers on the test were all accurate.

The hotel is located precisely five miles from the interstate, no more and no less.

Differ vs vary 
Vary means to change or show diversity.

You should vary your wording when you write. No one wants to read the same word 10 times in the same paragraph.

Differ means to be dissimilar or to disagree.

Editors differ in their opinions on the use of italics.

Abstruse vs Obtuse 
You probably won’t see abstruse used too often. 
It means hard to understand.  

Obtuse, on the other hand, means not quick in perception, sensitive, or observant. (Slow on the uptake is what we call it around here. :P)

And now, the bonusmy favorite scene using the word obtuse. (You'll hear it approximately 3 min. and 30 seconds into video.) This is a clip from the movie Shawshank Redemption. Apologies in advance for the language.


Thanks for stopping by. :)


  1. Hey,

    OMgosh do editors differ when it comes to the use of italics :)

    That's why I go with the AP Stylebook and nothing else - for the "most" part. :)

    PS: Smart cookie your Son #2 is :)

    1. He thinks he is, anyway. LOL Thanks for stopping by. :)

  2. I love how accurate all your examples are. And LOL, your son is quite the character. :D Great clip too, makes me want to see the movie again.

    1. I try. :)
      Yes, he is. ha!
      Me, too. It's a good movie. ;)

  3. Precisely why I keep loads of usage books on my desk. There are words I just avoid because I can't seem to use them correctly. Love your Monday lessons.

    1. Tell me! I have to look them up, too. has a permanent place in my browser.

      Thanks for the compliment. Glad to hear you like GPM. :)

  4. I have never seen the word abstruse before. Ever. Obtuse I'm very familiar with (I raised a son - 'nuff said!).

  5. I think that sums critting up pretty dang well! :-)

  6. I love the Shawshank Redemption and this is one of my favorite scenes! What a great way to remember how to use the word "obtuse." :-)

  7. Precise is more like exact.
    And your son has a snarky sense of humor.

  8. Replies
    1. Your welcome!

      And if you manage to use it ever, I'll give you 5 grammar brownie points. LOL

  9. Hah! I love quotes from your kids. :D

    1. They're always coming up with something... :P

  10. Ha, me too, I love your quotes from your kids! At least, they understand what you're doing as a writer and that can go a long way!

    I use "vary" rarely but I love saying it. It seems like I'm a know-it-all when I'm definitely NOT ;)

  11. Ha, I thought of that clip the second I read your title. It's cool to learn about abstruse. I've never heard of it before yet it doesn't get a red squiggly line under it when I type it. Perhaps abstruse is an abstruse word :)

  12. I work in a lab, so precision and accuracy are part of my day-to-day routine. You nailed those definitions!
    The Grammar Police is a great Monday feature, and I'm looking forward to your post on critiques!

  13. Thanks again, Melissa. Man I LOVE that movie, Shawshank Redemption. It has got to be one of the most impacting and profound movies I've ever watched... and I love the scene you chose. When I first read your title, my mind jumped immediately to the scene in that movie. It's the best time I've ever seen or heard that word used :)

  14. Hah! I can never hear the word obtuse (or read it) without thinking about that scene! Great post! Oh and gotta love kids!

    1. Yup. God made 'em cute so we wouldn't kill 'em. LOL


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