I used to be indecisive…

…but now I'm not so sure

top drawer problem


I’m having a bit of a problem with two words; simple English words, common everyday sorts of words – DRAW and DRAWER.  Is it just me, or has anyone else noticed how often people now talk about putting things into, or taking them out of, a ‘draw’.  Their knives and forks go into the cutlery draw, their socks go into the sock draw… I always thought I put the knives and forks into the cutlery drawer and my socks are certainly kept in my sock drawer.

I am beginning to wonder if perhaps my understanding of the words is wrong.  Perhaps I’ve been labouring under a misapprehension all these years about the word ‘draw’!  I can draw a picture, draw money out of the bank, draw a chair up nearer the fire, draw attention to something by pointing at it etc.  So confused am I that I even looked it up in the dictionary: the meanings are many and various, but not one of those meanings was anything to do with a DRAWER!!  To me a drawer is a container for things, a container which slides in and out.  Draw is a verb whereas drawer is a noun.

Yesterday, when shopping  for some simple plastic storage drawers I saw this:

sign on storage drawers

Aaargh!  Does that mean it’s official?   Should I just give up now?  It’s annoying me almost as much as apostrophes in the wrong places!

Oh, and I’ve just thought of another one – brought being used instead of bought!


30 thoughts on “top drawer problem

  1. But how can you tell which one people are saying? I pronounce both words exactly the same! (or do people around you often write down things like “sock draw(er)?

    Bought/brought is a common mistake… I got them wrong as a child, until somebody told me the trick: Bring has an r, so the past tense is brought. Buy has no r, so the past tense is bought.

    • I can hear which word people are saying, usually, because of the ‘r’ on the end of drawer – I say an ‘r’ at the end of drawer. In fact, I would normally pronounce it ‘draw-er’, or even ‘draw-wer’, but that will probably be because I am Scottish and I know we pronounce some things slightly differently. The bought/brought thing just seems to be more common now, or else my ears are picking things up more!

  2. Go back with a marker pen and correct it. Whilst you’re (or should I say “your”?) at it, put a question mark after “floor”. I correct English for a living, so I’m a fully paid-up member of the punctuation Police 🙂

  3. And then, at least in the US, there are those who pick up a shtick, see a realator to buy a home, and found a burgular in their bedroom. As for proper apostrophe use, apparently that’s a lost science!

    Sent from my iPad


  4. No, no, no…don’t ever give up Elaine! As MM says above, the punctuation police need all the help they can get, along with the spelling and grammar police. Standards are slipping and we need to uphold ours for as long as we can.

  5. I so agree with you, Elaine. Whatever has become of English Grammar teachers these days? Then there’s loose instead of lose, alot instead of a lot, and effected instead of affected. I could go on ad infinitum. I see so many mistakes, even on professionally made signboards. 😦

  6. Hm, this isn’t one I’ve come across.

    Drawer is Reward backwards. I like that!

  7. I can see where people might go wrong when the words sound similar (effected/affected, draw/drawer) but I do get cross when the words don’t even sound the same – brought/bought, i.e./e.g. or when the letter H is pronounced as haitch!

  8. They’re my pet hates too, I’d love to correct that sign in red!

  9. My dictionary gives ‘drawer’ as ‘a boxlike container in a chest, table etc., made for sliding in and out’. Have asked around and ‘drawer’ still seems to be the word in use in this part of the world.
    Apostrophes are just as misused here as with you. I have seen ‘Teaching Assistants’ shortened to, TA’s!!

  10. It’s one of those words that has been incorrectly spelt so many times that the incorrect version is more prevalent than the correct these days. Another example is racquet /racket. When I was young one played tennis with a racquet, and a racket was an unpleasant rowdy noise. These days it appears that racket is a perfectly acceptable spelling for an implement used for ball games.

  11. It would be fun to have an English history lesson on how words, meanings and spellings have changed over time, say Shakespeare to present.

  12. I can’t Like this – I’m too busy screaming! As if stray apostrophes weren’t enough… 😦

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