Friday, January 20, 2017

(to) swear in; (to) be sworn in

January 20 is the day that the United States Constitution mandates that the old president complete his term, and the new president should begin his term. Not only that, but this has to occur at 12 noon. It's quite a feat of organization to ensure that this event occur exactly on that day exactly at that time, in order to be Constitutional.

The term of the new president used to begin on March 4, but the Amendment XX, adopted on Jan. 23, 1933, moved that date to January 20. 

He becomes president by taking an Oath (or Affirmation) of Office, which begins, "I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

Here we see the verb, (to) swear.  This means he makes a solemn promise. Notice it says "I... swear.... that...." and then we read what the person swears, or pledges,  or affirms.

The two-word verb, (to) swear in, is different. It's always transitive and it's usually used in the PASSIVE VOICE.

Donald Trump Is Sworn In as President

Notice what follows this verb: as and the name of the office that he now legally and constitutionally assumes.

Try this:

Vice President Mike Pence sworn in

As is typical in journalism and advertising captions, the "be" verb is omitted. Immediately following the caption, we see the sentence,Indiana Gov. Mike Pence is sworn in as Vice President of the United States.

Then there's the NOUN FORM, a swearing-in

Donald Trump inauguration: protesters march following swearing-in


...  and also the ADJECTIVE FORM: swearing-in:


The President's Swearing-In Ceremony

If we are ever in a court case and have to testify, we are sworn in - that is, we affirm that we will be telling the truth. But to be sworn into office is a very unusual thing.

Here is a photo of William Renquist being sworn in as Justice of the United States Supreme Court:

It's pretty amazing to think that with just 35 words, a person can be sworn in and assume the title of President of the United States. We always hope that the person upholds his oath.



Wednesday, December 9, 2015

(to) shut down

Do you remember reading this headline?

Beijing (CNN)Much of the Chinese capital shut down Tuesday after Beijing's city government issued its first red alert for pollution, closing schools and construction sites and restricting the number of cars on the road. 

In the sentence above, it's used as an intransitive verb.  

 If you're not sure what (to) shut down means, read the following subheading:

Children kept at home, building sites and factories closed and cars kept off roads as pollution engulfs Chinese capital

It can also be used as a transitive verb:

Security Threat Shuts Down U.S. Consulate In Istanbul

This common two-word verb is also used as a noun!

It seems like Congress is always threatening a shutdown, such as this one:

28 Republican Men Threaten Government Shutdown Over Planned Parenthood

If you look online, you can see how often members of Congress threatens a shutdown if they don't get what they want. How many recent threats of a shutdown can you find?   Here's one more, to get you started:

Obamacare looms large in shutdown fight

And by the way, not only politicians threaten shutdowns. Anybody can get into the act.  Taxi drivers and truckers can do it too, as we see here:

'Truckers to Shut Down America' Shut Down by Traffic

Fortunately they were unsuccessful.

Friday, September 18, 2015

"I've Got Your Back!"

The first time somebody said to me, "I've got your back," I have to admit, I didn't know what he was talking about!

My eyes were looking ahead of me at the person I was talking to while my mind was visualizing somebody standing behind me. NO, there was no threat from behind me. My mind went back to what I could see. I had an inkling what this phrase refered to but if I were being threatened by somebody, in front of me would be the place I'd want somebody to be standing if they were trying to protect me!

I understand this phrase assumes that a threat will come from behind, which isn't always the case. I can tell you. The stranger who was holding a very large knife to me in my own apartment was, one morning, standing quite in front of me, not behind me. All I had to do was to open my eyes.

Be that as it may, this phrase "I've got your back" has now taken off. I hear it on TV, on action programs and movies, in book titles. Huffington Post did a piece on this in 2014. but the post seems to be making exactly my point: That the people we are most afraid of, and where people often feel the greatest threat, is from those we know, those who are standing right in front of us! Maybe even those we live with!

(The people who I know, whom I most trust, would never say that, by the way.)

To keep this post short, let's just say that the phrase "I've got your back" means "I'll protect you."

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

(to) Hold Back

Here's a headline from today's New York Times:

In Targeting ISIS, U.S. Holds Back to Shield Civilians

Today's two-word verb is "(to) hold back."

Do you think it means:
  1. (to) hurry up
  2. (to) protect
  3. (to) refrain from?

Which sentence tells you what this means?
  1. American and allied warplanes are equipped with the most precise aerial arsenal ever fielded.
  2. But American officials say they are not striking significant — and obvious — Islamic State targets out of fear that the attacks will accidentally kill civilians. 
  3. Killing such innocents could hand the militants a major propaganda coup and alienate both the local Sunni tribesmen, whose support is critical to ousting the militants, and Sunni Arab countries that are part of the American-led coalition.
The answers are (c) and (2).


Here's another current headline:

Clinton’s Staff Held Back Emails Requested Under FOIA

By this meaning, would you say that Mrs. Clinton showed the emails requested under the Freedom of Information Act, or not?

The verb (to) hold back can also mean to not progress at a normal rate. We see it used this way referring to education. Here is an example:

What holds you back? #AForEffort: Held back by the education system

This is a question for all of us: What holds us back from doing the things we need to do?

You are invited to comment below.


Friday, March 13, 2015

(to) follow through

The big news these days is ISIS and here we see this headline?

The U.S. and Canada may have a tougher time defending North America if Russia follows through on a plan to step up its military activity, according to the commander of NORAD.

Does this phrase, FOLLOW THROUGH, have anything to do with the verb follow?

Sort of, but don't rely on that to explain the meaning of follow through.

Follow through means to complete that task or assignment which you have begun with the intention of completing. In the above example, if Russia follows through on a plan to step up its military activity. . . .

See the following blog post:

Set a goal but didn't follow through? Tips to resetting habits

Here are a few additional examples from the news:

RNC chairman expects to follow through with NBC, CNN debate boycott

If the goal is not a good one, maybe it's good if you don't follow through. Can you think of some plans of yours in which it's a good thing that you followed through? Can you think of some plans of yours in which it's a good thing that you didn't follow through?

Monday, February 2, 2015

(to) Come Down With...

A recent article had this to say:

The disease outbreak became apparent when visitors reported coming down with measles after visiting the park from December 15 to December 20. 

This is a common two-word verb that is used in the news when reporting on newsworthy epidemics. It is very common in conversation.

Here's another example from a website:

Each year from October to May, millions of people all across the United States come down with the flu. Kids get the flu most often. But people in every age group — including teens — can catch it.

We use this verb to describe when a person shows symptoms of a disease.

The ebola outbreak resulted in this verb being used frequently:

US health officials are seeking 132 people who flew on a plane with a Texas nurse on the day before she came down with symptoms of Ebola.

Here's to wishing everybody good health!!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

(to) speak out

Two common two-word verbs using "speak" as the main verb are speak up and speak out. What's the difference between them?

As I see it, the difference is in the number of people who are listening to you.  In a private situation where one person is shy or quiet and others cannot hear him or hear him well, he might be asked to "speak up".  Often it is used to refer to not being afraid to express your opinion.

Speak out has a more sociological reference: A person will "speak out" in favor of one project, or "speak out" against another. 

Let's see a few situations where the verb "speak out" is used on the world wide web.

We begin with the title of a book:

Odd Girl Speaks Out: Girls Write about Bullies, Cliques, Popularity, and Jealousy

Can you explain why the verb "speak out" and not just the word "speak" is used here? What social forces would be upon her to keep her from expressing her viewpoints?

Here's another headline:

The website continues: Medal of Honor Recipients Speak Out About PTS. Why are they using the verb "speak out" and not just "speak up"? Who does the organization want to listen to what the Medal of Honor recipients are saying? What changes does the organization want to be made? Why?

It doesn't have to be a national or international issue for somebody to speak out. Here is a local issue:

Tiverton residents speak out on bridge tolls

Have you ever spoken out on an important social issue? If so, how? To whom?  Are there any issues that you would like to speak out about, but haven't found the time, the proper means, or "your voice"?