123RF
Grammar

Attuned or Tuned?

I saw a fellow broadcaster encourage people to keep watching for more coverage of Hurricane Dorian. But did they mean for people to stay attuned or tuned?

Should it be attuned or tuned? The social media post urged people to “stay attuned.” The idea was to keep them informed about where Hurricane Dorian was headed.

I knew right away it was wrong.

Attuned and tuned look like very similar words. But those two letters do make a difference. They’re not the same thing.

Of course, the guy meant to say “stay tuned.”

I can think of a couple of reasons the mistake may have occurred.

For one, he may have been dictating his post into a smartphone. Dictation doesn’t always work exactly as expected. We should, however, always double-check what we post before we click the button that commits it to everyone’s news feed.

I could also imagine, though, that he may have been trying to be unnecessarily formal and mistakenly considered tuned to be a short form of attuned. By this logic, he could have reasoned one was just as correct as the other. We try too often to sound too formal using big words for no reason other than pretense.

Attuned or tuned?

Attuned means “more receptive or aware of” or “acclimated to” something. It is the past tense of attune.

Tuned, which is used primarily in music but also in reference to finding a broadcast signal, means having selected the right frequency or note.

Both something that is attuned and tuned have undergone some kind of adjustment.

But the words aren’t the same. Attuned refers to a more broad adjustment to something more along the lines of awareness or acceptance. Tuned refers to the kind of precise adjustment that allows for something to be properly experienced.

You wouldn’t attune a piano, but I hope you’d tune one properly.

Likewise, if you’re watching a TV show or listening to radio and you want to continue, you stay tuned, not attuned.

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 28 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.