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The Grammar Guru

Once upon a time, there was a garden filled with magical vegetables. The carrots sang in harmony, the beans danced in a chorus line, and the cabbage whistled with glee.

One morning, the gardener who took care of the place found the carrots doubled over. It took him a moment to realize they were laughing. Something had obviously amused them. Looking around, the gardener could find no source of merriment and left the garden bemused, scratching his head; he couldn't imagine what in the world was so hilarious.

Days later, the mystery was solved. The gardener decided to spy on the vegetables and found the beans imitating him. There was nothing amusing in that, as far as the gardener was concerned, and he left in a huff. The vegetables could tend to themselves!

With time, weeds flourished. The cabbage began whistling in distress, the beans huddled together, and the carrots chattered anxiously. The gardener, who'd been keeping watch, was greatly amused. "Look who needs my help!" he thought, chuckling.

With gusto, he destroyed the weeds and soon, the garden was back to its old self. Well, not totally. It never made fun of the gardener again.

Remember: amused -- finding something or someone entertaining; bemused -- confused.

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Quiz

1. The troops who worked for Alexander the Great were (bemused/amused) when he suddenly stopped conquering countries.

2. On their first date, Stella pretended to be (bemused/amused) when Claude told her a joke she'd heard a thousand times.

3. One day in ancient Greece, a young man told his friend, "I needed advice on my future, so I consulted the oracle, the woman who knows everything, but," he said, scratching his head, "I'm (bemused/amused) by what she told me."

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Answers

1. bemused (Alex didn't want his troops to know he'd developed a blister on his foot, so he spread the rumor the gods had ordered him to sit still.)

2. amused (Stella, an old-fashioned type, was on the "wrong" side of 30, and Claude was her only option at the moment.)

3. bemused (The oracle had said, "The future will be. Fifty drachmas, please.")

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