This week, I’m going to shift gears and turn back to a writing-related topic from the stories I’ve been posting in recent weeks. It’s a usage issue that has long bugged me: The misuse of SOMEWHAT for SOMETHING.
It grates on my editorial ear: For example, “This beautiful old car is somewhat of a classic.”
We see and hear sentences like this far too often. But it’s not good usage.
Is there a better way to say it? You bet!
Two ways, in fact:
(1) “This beautiful old car is something of a classic.”
(2) “This beautiful old car is somewhat classic.”
Here’s another example of the all-too-common confusion between the adverb SOMEWHAT and the pronoun SOMETHING, this one from a wonderfully helpful website, Common Errors in English Usage:
An “a” is most commonly inserted after “something” rather than after “somewhat”: “She is somewhat awkward,” and “He is something of a klutz.” “Somewhat of a” will strike some readers as a little odd.
“Somewhat of a” strikes me as not just “a little” odd, but VERY odd. My advice: Don’t be odd. Write it right!