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Prose Parade
Grammar and writing basics


Shear has to do with cutting, you know, like sheep shearing. Scissors are sometimes called shears (a noun). See, more cutting. Even your hair is sheared, well, at least in a fancy salon. At Supercuts, it’s cut, and you’re out of there. Shear is nearly always a verb.

Sheer, though, has several different meanings. As a verb, it means to swerve from a course.

As an adjective it means thin or transparent. Lace curtains are sheer. We sometimes transform sheer from an adjective to a noun, especially when we call curtains just sheers. For example, “Those sheers let in a lot of light.”

Again, as an adjective it can also mean complete or pure, sheer happiness, for example.

More adjective stuff: It can mean steep or nearly perpendicular. “It’s a sheer drop from the top of Half Dome in Yosemite.” Presumably if it’s you at the top of Half Dome, you’ll be hanging on for dear life and don’t really need this bit of info. And don’t look down.

My dictionary says it can also be used as an adverb to mean almost perpendicular or complete, but for the life of me I can’t think of an example sentence. But then, I’ve sheered from my dictionary many times in the past.

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July 9, 2009 um 10:38 am
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