Communication Skills

JS Tip 106: From the Writing Workshops: More Quick Questions, More Quick Answers

Do iterate and reiterate fall into the same category as irregardless? I’ve been told that reiterate is redundant. What’s the correct usage? (Jenifer Stoddard)

They don’t fall into the same category as irregardless, but they have an interesting history.

Iterate (rarely used) once meant to repeat something once. (Iterum is Latin for “a second time.”)

Reiterate (again, from Latin) originally meant to repeat something several times. Repeat more than once.

Does it make a difference in modern English? No. Don’t worry about it. (Tell your friend, “Hey. You’re sharp. It goes all the way back to Latin, doesn’t it?”)

What about bring and take? Are they directional in nature? (Roger Rice)

They are directional in nature.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary of English Usage explains the differences this way:

[B]ring implies movement toward the speaker, and take implies movement away.

Some examples:

      Please bring your reports to the meeting.

The assumption is that the meeting is at the writer’s location. The meeting will be “here,” where the writer is.  

      Please take your invoices to your clients.

The assumption is that the clients are away. They’re not at this location. They’re in Oklahoma. Or France. Maybe Zamboanga.

Help! Is it job aid or job aide? People are beginning to get violent over here. (Cassie Hanson)

A job aid is the little plastic card you tape to the side of your computer to guide you through a process. (“Let’s see . . . Step one . . . ‘Complete your will.’ Uh-oh.”)

A job aide is the college intern who follows you around at work and does whatever you want him to do. (“Charles, get me a Pepsi.”)

An aid is a thing; an aide is a person. 

Next week: More short questions.