Grammar 101: Canvas or CanvassFebruary 7th, 2013 by Michael Kwan
A canvas typically refers to a strong cloth that is stretched out over a frame of some kind. For example, the surface on which a painter creates her work of art can be called a canvas. It can also refer to a certain type of material, as in the case of a canvas bag that you may use to carry some of your gear. The coarse, unbleached cloth material called canvas might also be used to make tents or sails. It is a sturdy, heavy duty fabric.
You may have heard of canvas prints. This is when you have a photograph that is printed directly onto the canvas material and then you have a different way to display your pictures than the more typical print on paper with a frame. The artist may put her canvas on an easel and then work with the paints on her palette to create something extraordinary.
To canvass, on the other hand, is the act of going around to solicit votes from a particular district. During an election season, a candidate may hire several employees to canvass a neighborhood, trying to convince the residents of the area to vote for him or her. Presidential candidates like Barack Obama and Mitt Romney rely heavily on canvassers to help them secure votes. To canvass can also mean to conduct a survey or poll, as well as to examine carefully.
Canvass can also be used as a noun with related meanings to its verb form. It can refer to the solicitation of votes itself, the actual surveying of public opinion, or the close examination or discussion of the matter at hand.
There is just one extra “S” that separates canvas and canvass, but their meanings could not be any more different. Do you have a suggestion for a future Grammar 101 post idea? I’d love to hear it.
Filed under Freelance Writing.