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These adjectives all describe absolute, non-negotiable states: something is either false or it’s not; something is either inevitable or it’s not.

Many writers get careless and try to modify uncomparables with comparatives like more and less or intensives like very.

But if you really think about them, the core assertions in sentences like “War is becoming increasingly inevitable as Middle East tensions rise”; “Their cost estimate was more accurate than the other firms’”; and “As a mortician, he has a very unique attitude” are nonsense.

If something is inevitable, it is bound to happen; it cannot be bound to happen and then somehow even more bound to happen. phrase very unique is at best redundant and at worst stupid, like “audible to the ear” or “rectangular in shape”.

Fervent A beautiful and expressive word that combines the phonological charms of verve and fever.

Lots of writers, though, think fervent is synonymous with fervid, and most dictionary defs. The truth is that there’s a hierarchical trio of zeal-type adjectives, all with roots in the Latin verb fervere (= to boil).

Inviting your school-age kids to list as many paradoxical words as they can is a neat way to deepen their relationship to English and help them see that words are both symbols for real things and real things themselves. It’s worth noting this not only because the two words are fun but because so many people don’t know the difference. Mucous refers to (1) something that makes or secretes mucus, as in “The next morning, his mucous membranes were in rocky shape indeed,” or (2) something that consists of or resembles mucus, as in “The mucous consistency of its eggs kept the diner’s breakfast trade minimal.” Myriad As an adj., myriad means (1) an indefinitely large number of something (“The Local Group comprises myriad galaxies”) or (2) made up of a great many diverse elements (“the myriad plant life of Amazonia”).

As a noun, it’s used with an article and of to mean a large number (“The new CFO faced a myriad of cash-flow problems”).

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Focus Focus is now the noun of choice for expressing what people used to mean by concentration (“Sampras’s on-court focus was phenomenal”) and priority (“Our focus is on serving the needs of our customers”).The related noun crinosity is antiquated but not obsolete and can be used to refer to somebody’s hair in an amusingly donnish way, as in Madonna’s normally platinum crinosity is now a maternal brown.Glabrous, which is the loveliest of all hair-related adjectives, means having no hair (on a given part) at all.What’s odd is that some authorities consider only the adjective usage correct — there’s about a 50-50 chance that a given copy editor will query a myriad of — even though the noun usage has a much longer history.It was only in 19th-century poetry that myriad started being used as an adj. It’s tempting to recommend avoiding the noun usage so that no readers will be bugged, but at the same time it’s true that any reader who’s bugged by a myriad of is both persnickety and wrong — and you can usually rebut snooty teachers, copy editors, et al.