Monday Muddle: strait, straight

strait: (noun) a narrow body of water that connects two larger bodies of water Used in the expression “dire straits” straight: (adjective) (adverb) moving in one direction; level; upright; not crooked, curved, or bent NOT used in the expression “dire straits”.

Monday Muddle: affect, effect

By far the most common uses of affect and effect are affect as a verb and effect as a noun. The memory trick I use to help keep them straight is that affect is an action and starts with A. A is for action. Effect is a consequence or end result. E is for end. And if you have trouble remembering which is which, I would recommend trying to avoid the less common versions.

Monday Muddle affect: (verb) to alter; to change; to make a difference to; to sway the emotions of; (noun) facial expressions, gestures, vocal sounds that display emotion, often insincerely effect: (noun) end result; consequence; change resulting from an action or other cause; used in the term "special effects": (verb) to cause something to happen; usually used in the expression "to effect change"

Monday Muddle: uncharted, unchartered

Monday Muddle: uncharted: (adjective) describes a physical area that has not had a map or survey done of it; used figuratively to talk of areas that are new to the person navigating them Used in the expression uncharted territory. unchartered: (adjective)(uncommon, at least in its correct sense) describes an organization that does not have a charter or written constitution Not used in the expression uncharted territory.

Chartered (adjective) can mean to have a charter or constitution, but it can also be used to describe a vehicle that has been rented, usually with the driver, for private tours.

The other day a friend asked me how long Gilligan’s trip was supposed to be. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, it’s okay; it just means you are young. (But if you ever need the answer for a trivia competition, it was a three hour tour.) Gilligan was working on a boat that was chartered. They may have ended up in uncharted waters, but because they were there, they were not unchartered waters.

Monday Muddle: spilt, split

Monday Muddle: spilt: (verb, past tense of to spill) to allow or cause contents of a container to overflow the edges (including people from a building); to reveal information that should have been kept confidential split: (verb) to break or tear into parts; to divide into shares; to separate; (noun) a break or tear

If a bag split, the contents would likely be spilt.

“Spilt” and “split” are also both past participles which can be used as adjectives. e.g. Split pea soup, whether you are a fan of it or not, is better than spilt pea soup.

“Spilt” is the original British past tense of “to spill”, and “spilled” is the American version. Although “spilt” is still acceptable in the United Kingdom, it is becoming less common, and “spilled” is gaining in popularity—as the past tense, not as a condition of soup.

Monday Muddle: fictional, fictitious, fictive

Monday Muddle fictional: (adjective) imaginary; characteristic of literary fiction (e.g. fictional character) fictitious: (adjective) artificial; fictional, but with the intent to conceal or mislead (e.g. fictitious alibi) fictive: (adjective) relates to a specific fictional element (e.g. fictive kinship)

The meanings of these three words are very similar, and all relate to creations of the imagination. But there are some nuances. If it’s in a negative context—not being factual for the purpose of being deceptive—use “fictitious”. If you are discussing literature, use “fictional”. “Fictive” is less common than the other two, and is often used in the phrase “fictive kinship” which is a relationship based not on familial ties but on a close relationship. (e.g. when you call your mother’s best friend Aunt Sue)