It’s summer but that doesn’t mean Grading Girl doesn’t have time for a mini-lesson! I can’t help it . . . when I hear a grammar goof, my wheels start spinning. I was in a boutique the other day and couldn’t help but overhear a fellow patron in the next dressing room exclaim she was nauseous and needed the nearest bathroom. Apparently, she had a rough pre-4th celebration. Well, her demise is my opportunity – opportune moment for a mini-lesson, that is! There is a fine line between these two sick depictions. I know, I’ve made the same mistake but here’s the real deal, folks. You can now be grammatically correct even when you’re feeling the need for some sidewalk pizza. 😉
Are you nauseous or nauseated?
Nauseous is an adjective that means causing nausea; sickening; disgusting; sickening to contemplate
Nauseated is a verb that means to feel nausea; become sick; sick at the stomach
Do not, therefore, say “I feel nauseous” unless you are sure you have that ill effect on others! I don’t think the dressing room girl made everyone else around her feel sick – she felt sick from something she did or ate; therefore, she was nauseated.
An example from the brilliant Dr. Seuss:
You nauseate me, Mr. Grinch.
With a nauseous super-naus.
taken from the lyrics of “Mr. Grinch”
“That leftover salmon dish is so nauseous that I don’t even want to walk near the kitchen.” (used as an adjective . . . in this case, the salmon dish does have the ill effect on others)
“It nauseates me to look at that disgusting picture.” (used as a verb . . . the picture makes me feel nausea)
Grading Girl shares this message during the first week of my speech classes:
Meanings are in the message senders – NOT in the messages themselves!!
If meaning were in the words, then knowing word definitions would eliminate all misunderstandings! There would be no room for argument if we only held denotations, or dictionary definitions, to words. The reality is, though, that each person has different experiences that cause associations to certain emotional meaning, or connotations, of words. In other words (no pun intended!), individuals assign meanings to words and intend them in a particular way.
The misunderstanding comes when the person receiving the message holds different attitudes or emotions to the very same words. Nonverbal language, then, helps convey the intended association. Facial expressions, gestures, and body movement can help reveal the true message when words fail us. So Grading Girl urges you to mind your messages!