Horrible Homophones – the hole storey

Knot two no you’re homophones, as guest contributor Sondra Smith from Virginia, USA, points out, is a recipe for writing disaster as she acknowledged with my recent series on spelling goofs caused by these evil beasts. But given Sondra’s delightful sense of humor, homophones are not quite the villains they may seem. Please welcome her to HTWB along with her incredible collection of homophones.

Horrible Homophones - the hole storeyAll of us know what a challenge it is to write the correct homophones (same sounding words). Many of us have misused them time and time again before knowing about the “other” homophones.  In the business world, it is extremely important to use the correct homophone when writing. [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

20 top tips on how to write proper

write,proper,funny jokesMany thanks to my good friend Susie C. for inspiring these excellent top tips on how to write proper, so we writers don’t do the job badder than we normally do:

1. Always Avoid Annoying Alliteration.

2. Prepositions are not words to end sentences with. [Read more…]

Top 20 grammar mistakes that make you look unprofessional

grammar mistakes,blogging,writing,business,spelling,punctuation,social mediaI’m taking a bit of artistic licence here with grammar mistakes  as I’m about to include spelling and punctuation as well, but as a whole the following goofs are almost guaranteed to make you look a bit foolish out in the business blogosphere, social media and business writing generally. [Read more…]

Blogging grammar goofers: get real. Goofs are bad for business.

HTWB respond NOWMuch as I agree that old-fashioned grammar rituals have no place in modern writing, there still is no doubt that people who blithely blog and post for business with whimsical misspelling and poor grammar are making themselves look unprofessional.

In the UK we have a glorious and fascinating array of mini-cultures, grammar differences, dialects and other conversational variations which help make up the rich tapestry etc. etc. that constitutes these little islands – which though geographically tiny are culturally and socially more varied than a bag of Licorice Allsorts.

What does that have to do with the price of eggs?

[Read more…]

Mistakes in your business writing: are they a hanging offence?

If the “grammar police” get on your case because you’ve made a mistake in your business writing like putting an apostrophe in the wrong place or using the wrong derivative of a verb, should you cower in fear and correct every last little goof?

Or are there times when you can give such critics the finger and remind them that there are more important things in life than too many exclamation marks?

Mistakes in your business writing: are they a hanging offence?I probably shouldn’t say this as I am pro writer/author/editor, but just between ourselves … I think in our modern times we can get too pedantic about absolutely correct grammar, punctuation, spelling and so-on.

Like everyone else I shouted with laughter when reading Lynne Truss’s wonderful book, “Eats, Shoots and Leaves,” if for no other reason than the fact that she found so much humour in the whole issue and had her tongue firmly in her cheek while pulling up the grammar-perps for their evil crimes.

But there’s one very important distinction that drops out of all this, and that can been seen even in Truss’s book title:  the problem of ambiguity, and the consequent risk of people not understanding what you’re talking about – or worse, misinterpreting your words completely.

And much as the strict grammarians may sneer at me like I had just crawled up out of drain, I really think they should get over themselves and relax when people make mistakes that don’t affect the meaning of the words in question. Where we should do some more work, however, is in one or more of these circumstances:

  • When, as I mentioned, the mistake alters or obscures the meaning
  • When because of the mistake the whole sentence or paragraph doesn’t make sense
  • When it’s a very obvious mistake that everyone knows about, e.g. “its” vs “it’s,” “they’re” vs “their,” etc.
  • When the mistake is just about understandable but makes you look silly, e.g. “loose” vs “lose”
  • When the mistake is a typo that could get you into trouble, e.g. “shit” instead of “shot”

But what about spell checkers, grammar checkers and so-on?

What about them? I hate them, because although they pick up some mistakes they don’t cover everything and in some cases are wrong – or at least are based on one lot of English grammar rules (USA) when I’m trying to write in English English.

The bottom line is that these checkers should be regarded as irritating little reminders, but don’t trust them to correct everything. Good old-fashioned common sense of the human variety is far more reliable.

What do you think about being strict about correctness in your writing? Do you agree that we should be more relaxed about it, or do you think we should uphold the highest standards no matter what? I look forward to reading your views!

Stop those mistakes once and for all!

“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

“English to English: the A to Z of British-American translations”…more than 2,000 business and social terms from the USA, the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand

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