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[personal profile] randi2204 posting in [community profile] fandom_grammar
For today’s edition of [community profile] fandom_grammar, we have a pair of words that are quite commonly confused, particularly in scenes where you definitely wouldn’t want them to be confused.  Let’s tackle shutter and shudder, with some help from the characters of Voltron.

Shutter can be used as either a noun or a verb.  As a noun, shutter generally refers to an exterior window covering, commonly made of angled wooden slats.  Shutters may be decorative, or they may be closed over windows for protection during storms.  Photography buffs are familiar with the shutter being the part of a camera that controls how much light is let through the lens to expose the film; “shutter speed” refers to how fast the shutter opens and closes again.  When used as a verb, it frequently has to do with those window coverings, as in shuttering the windows.  It has also come to mean to shut down or close down, perhaps because many businesses closed shutters over the storefront when they ended their day.

Shutters are a universal concept:

Lance burst into the control center for the castle, wild-eyed.  “Close the shutters!” he shouted, startling Hunk awake at the console.  “There’s a big storm coming!”

“One of these days, your recklessness is going to get someone killed,” Keith told Lance, and had the dubious pleasure of watching his expression shutter in an instant, transforming to a blank mask.

Our other word, shudder, is used primarily as a verb.  To shudder is to shiver convulsively, as if in fear, cold, or revulsion, or to vibrate.  It can also be used as a noun, the definition of which is the act of shudderingShudder is thought to derive from either the Middle Dutch or Middle Low German, from a root that means “to shake.”

There are lots of things that make our characters shudder:

The mere thought of Lotor grabbing her arm made Allura shudder.

The spacecraft they had stolen shuddered under the barrage of laser fire, but they still managed to escape.

“S-sorry,” Allura said, unable to control her shuddering. “I’m just so cold.”

When these two words are confused, most of the time it seems to be when they’re being used as verbs.  If you’re not sure which one you want to use, remember that you’d want shutter when something is being closed or shut down, whether it be a business or someone’s expression.  If you’re looking to describe your character trembling with cold or dread, shudder is the word.



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