Search Results for: spelling

Spelling: how to tell your Ances from your Ences

When you’re writing, have you always thought that whether a word ends in “ance” or “ence” is pretty much a guessing game? I did, until I started researching for this series. And I’m delighted to tell you that there is a little bit of logic in there, somewhere, after all. For some “ances” and “ences,” anyway. But let’s get the illogical ones out of the way first…

Spelling: how to tell your Ances from your Ences

Whether we like it or not, correct spelling does matter. And not just in the supermarket…

Words that end in either Ance or Ence, for no obvious reason

Of course with English being English, there are some exceptions. Most of the grammar resources I checked out basically throw their hands up in the air and say “exceptions? Just memorise them.” So let’s start with those: there is no reason why they end as they do, other than the peculiarities of this crazy language. [Read more…]

NOW will you listen to why good spelling matters?

If you still think good spelling doesn’t really matter in these informal online days, just take a look at this catalogue of stupid goofs.

But don’t laugh. Why? Because most of these images shared on social media serve only to remind us why if we want to be taken seriously, we need to get our spelling right.

HTWB spelling mistake are dangerous

This was on social media recently. Numerous jokes were made about “brians.” The poor lady’s message was forgotten.

If spelling, grammar, punctuation, etc. are wrong, people tend to focus on that

And while they’re chuckling at a mistake, what else happens? [Read more…]

Common spelling goofs 3 – 10 Quick Tips

HTWB 10 tips logoWelcome to yet another 10 Quick Tips – this time the third and final part of common spelling goofs / homophones, following on from this one, and this one

According to Sondra Smith from Write The Right Words and author of Whata Ewe Mean Bye That?” there are over 2,680 homophones in the English language and in this series we have only covered 30! Here are the final ten…

Which are your favorites? And have you any you’d like to add to this section of the alphabet? [Read more…]

Common spelling goofs 2 – 10 Quick Tips

Common spelling goofs 2 - 10 Quick TipsWelcome to yet another 10 Quick Tips – this time the second part of common spelling goofs / homophones, following on from this one. Which are your favorites? And have you any you’d like to add to this section of the alphabet? [Read more…]

Common spelling goofs 1 – 10 Quick Tips

Common spelling goofs 1 - 10 Quick TipsWelcome to another in the 10 Quick Tips series … this time we look at some very common spelling (or word choice) mistakes. Which do you think are the most common of these? And which ones would you add to the list?

1.Accept – Except … accept (v.) = to agree, to agree to receive … except (prep.) (conj.) = apart from, leave out

2.Affect – Effect … affect (v.) = to make a difference to … effect (n.) = how something affects you … also effect (v.) = to bring about, make happen

3.Base – Bass … base (n. and v.) = foundation, to structure something … bass (n.) = musical instrument, (adj.) measure of male voice

4.For – Fore – Four … for (prep.) = suiting the requirements of … fore (adj.) = forward, at the front … four (n.) = the number 4

5.Foreword – Forward … foreword (n.) = introduction to a book … forward (adj. and adv.) = eager, going ahead

6.Hear – Here … hear (v.) = to listen to … here (adv.) (n.) (adj.)= at this point or place

7.Licence – License … tricky one. In the main, licence = a noun and license = a verb, but in the USA license often is used to mean both noun and verb. Your call….!

8.Lose – Loose … lose (v.) pronounced “looz” = to misplace or be deprived of something … loose (adj.) pronounced with a soft “s” = free from attachment. Spellings often cause confusion, but then so does much of the English language…

9. Miner – Minor … Miner (n.) = someone who works in a mine … minor (adj.) = lesser, smaller, also (n.) under-age person

10.Muscle – Mussel … muscle (n.) = soft tissue parts of your body, also strength (v.) (adj.) … mussel (n.) = a type of mollusk or clam.

Check out the next article in this series here

Does your spelling make you want to spit?

Accurate spelling is something I value. Do you? I know that sounds very old-fashioned in the light of modern day text messaging and online shortcuts and abbreviations. But like most things there are good reasons behind what sometimes appears like unnecessary rule-following. In the case of good spelling, I believe the reason is to maintain uniformity, which leads to accuracy.

The other reason why some people see good spelling as desirable is to demonstrate the writer’s level of education and literacy, but I’m not sure if this is a particularly accurate gauge. One of the worst spellers I’ve ever known was a doctor who could write out prescriptions using perfect 20-letter pharmaceutical terms but couldn’t write a postcard to his mother without 6 or 7 goofs in it. The other atrocious speller I know is a brilliant mathematician and is definitely not dyslexic.

Spell checkers are OK, but not perfect

Most word processing software includes some sort of spelling checker device and these are helpful, but not infallible. They will pick up typos and glaring mistakes but, being machines, are far too logical to cope with the insanity of the English language and can’t deal with homophones or wrong words that are spelled right or apostrophes appearing in the wrong place.

Many word processing packages also incorporate grammar/syntax nannies, rather like mine which sticks a disapproving green line under most of my work. I ignore it. Finally, most word processing packages give you the option to select UK or USA spellings, which leads us directly into another can of worms.

English language driving you nuts? Some more solutions, with a smile
Click on the green titles here for other articles to give you a chuckle – and to help you write better, too.
Tautology: are you guilty of wasting words?
Business writing quiz: how many grammar questions can you get right?
Grammar is groovy. Haven’t you heard?
Grammar: if you’re going to get it wrong, get it REALLY wrong…
Essential, er, grammar rules
Do you get the syntax attacks? Here’s the cure…
English language cringe makers: you need a sense of humor when you speak it

Which English spellings – UK or US?

Many people ask me how text should be spelled for international English language communication. My answer is I don’t know. Possibly you should spell according to the organization’s country of origin – where its headquarters and roots are. But that gets blown straight out of the water if the company’s origins are a small distillery in the Highlands of Scotland which has now been supplemented by a multi-million dollar manufacturing and distribution operation incorporating 24 huge factory/warehouse sites coast to coast in the United States.

Possibly, then, you should spell according to the country in which the largest amount of the organization’s business is done, but with hierarchies being what they are this may not work out evenly either. Probably, though, if we wait for a while the internet will solve the problem because, through its aggressive internationalism, English language spellings will become standardized everywhere.

And because the US has the rest of us by the short hairs on the internet there are no prizes for guessing which type of English we’ll standardize to. Although the mere thought of it will make most British-speak purists burst into tears, I must say I’m looking forward to the day when I can write out a “check” in the UK for new “tires” on my car and then go home and watch a good “program” on TV.

(By the way, if you want a great little guide to English words on either side of The Pond, you’ll love my book, “English To English – the A to Z of British-American translations.”)

So what can you do to improve your spelling?

In the first instance, consult your spell checker and then be sure to human-check any ambiguous elements. Also, use the Thesaurus facility if you’re unsure how to spell a particular word; enter a simpler synonym that you can spell, and your other word should come up.

Alternatively, at the risk of sounding like my usual low-tech self, I would say use a dictionary. Despite being paper-based, a dictionary is often the faster way to find a word.

A bit of (clean) fun to finish

“Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn’t mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.”

Yes, you got it:

“According to a researcher (sic) at Cambridge University, it doesn’t matter in what order the letters in a word are, the only important thing is that the first and last letter be at the right place. The rest can be a total mess and you can still read it without problem. This is because the human mind does not read every letter by itself but the word as a whole.”

So it seems as long as the first and last letters of a word are correct, our eyes/brains are programmed to understand it. Does this blow the whole need for good spelling out of the water?

More help to stop you spitting:

“How To Write About Yourself”…how to make the most of yourself, whatever you need to write

“Business Writing Made Easy”…everything you need to know about writing for business in English

“Banana Skin Words and how not to slip on them”…over 1,500 spelling and grammar tips to perfect your written English