To e’er is human…

June 1, 2011 Comments Off on To e’er is human…

There are several archaic short words involving e’s and r’s: err, ere, and e’er. The latter two are the ones I’ve seen mixed up a lot recently, and as a public service (ha) I will now elucidate the difference for my readers’ edification.

e’er is the one most people know. It is a poetical contraction of the word “ever,” clearly denoted by the presence of the apostrophe which, as we all know, takes the place of one or more letters.

ere is an archaic word that means “before.” It is spelled differently than e’er, as you might have noticed. It is not a contraction.

Both of these are distinct from the word err, which means to make a mistake (as in, “To err is human”). Incidentally, “err” can be pronounced to rhyme with either her or hair, which is good to know. I say -air. (But I wasn’t sure, either.)

On an unrelated note, the word “ogle” is pronounced with a long o sound (as in boat); it does not rhyme with “goggle,” even though everyone says it that way. Nor does it rhyme with “Google,” but I’ve heard people say it that way too. At least not according to my dictionary. And that is my grammar nazi outburst for today. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

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