Not That YOU Would Ever Make This Mistake, Of Course

I wrestled with all kinds of deep insightful blog ideas for today, but then I figured, who’s reading blogs on the weekend anyway, right?  That’s what you do at work in between bursts of productivity, isn’t it?  So, instead, for today’s blog I’m going to lecture you about using a particular word correctly.  I KNOW, you are SUPER EXCITED right now.  But everyone using this word correctly will make the world a MUCH BETTER place.  And then I’ll send you to a hilarious website and/or post a funny video to make up for it.  Sound like a fair deal?  ;-) 

It’s not one of those words you usually get lectured about, like “literally” or “a lot” – this is a mistake I’ve only heard a couple of times, but one of those was IN A RADIO AD, which tells me it could be sneaking into mainstream mistake-town, which means it needs to be stopped pronto.

So, which of these is correct?:

I wish I had FOUR THOUSAND trucks, but alas, my mother thinks they are the most boring toys on the planet, and so I only have two hundred.

Hooray!  I wish for trucks and alas, glorious trucks appear!

Oh dear, oh dear.  The first one is correct, my friends.  The second one is wrong wrong wrong!  “Alas” is only to be used to indicate despair or woe or concern or pity—something NOT fabulous and delightful.  It is NOT THE SAME THING as “voila!” or “TADA!”  Here’s the dictionary definition, if that helps.  Oh my goodness. 

Seriously, this radio ad was like: “You may have thought the summer was over . . . but ALAS the party still goes on at [name of terrible ad-making place]!”  What?  Seriously?  What?  How did that make it all the way onto the radio?  Aren’t there editors for radio ads?  Surely there are.

I would have restrained my natural editor grumpiness about this, but since then I’ve seen it happen at least three more times, and while that’s not quite an epidemic, it’s still WEIRD and DISTURBING.  So consider this my public service announcement, in defense of the real use of “alas”, which is quite fun when you use it properly.

For instance:  My ridiculous husband is currently asleep on the floor, where his smartphone is trying desperately to wake him up with adorable Bollywood music—alas, to no avail!

If you really want hilarious grammar lessons, check out The Oatmeal’s Ten Words You Need to Stop Misspelling, How to Use an Apostrophe, and When to Use i.e. in a Sentence.  (Watch out, there’s a bit of swearing and inappropriate imagery in there—but it’s all in the name of saving grammar! (and being funny))


And after that, I think we probably need to conclude with a video of an adorable baby sloth yawning, and then it’s time for bed.  🙂

More tomorrow!  Last blog till September!  (probably)  🙂

Toddler’s Favorite Book of the Day:

Of Thee I Sing cover
Of Thee I Sing, by Barack Obama, illustrated by Loren Long

This one’s still a bit too long for the toddler, but he keeps bringing it to me and he loves looking at the gorgeous pictures.  And once he can understand it, it’s got a really lovely message about heroes and role models and all the different people we could look up to from our past.  So I tried teaching him the word “Obama”, and then he ran around the house shouting it for a while, which means we’re totally ready for next year’s rallies.  ;-)  (Although I am so not looking forward to paying attention to politics for the next year and two months . . . SIGH and also ALAS.)