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…]

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

photo credit: andrewtoddphillips via photopin cc

How to cut common mistakes right out of your writing

Do you ever put an apostrophe where it shouldn’t be?

Write “there” instead of “their?”

Forget the difference between “affect” and “effect?”

….or any of the other hundreds of nasty little banana skins that make writing in English so maddening?

Don’t we all!

That’s why I’ve put together the right answers to around 1,500 commonly mis-spelled and other wrongly used English words and phrases in one handy, 73-page eBook:

Banana Skin Words and how not to slip on them.

And although this eBook could save you a lot of money in lost credibility and unclear writing, I only want less than GBP £2 (USD $2.50) for it. Crazy? Perhaps – so grab this chance to get it now before I come to my senses!

BUY NOW? Remember, it’s just $2.50 (£1.63!)

Here’s what you get:



Part One: over 600 commonly confused words, phrases and usages of punctuation, in alphabetical order…

Part Two: Banana Skin word endings – correct spellings of nearly 1,000 common words ending in…










A few samples…

Apparant – Apparent … apparant = wrong! Correct = apparent

Calendar – Calender … calendar = chart of days, weeks, months … calender = press for paper, fabric etc.

Economic – Economical … economic = to do with economics … economical = good value, cheap

Flew – Flu – Flue … flew = past tense of to fly … flu = abbreviation of influenza … flue = upward part of chimney etc.

Heal – Heel – He’ll … heal (v.) to become better, recover from injury … heel = part of your foot, also heel (v.) to make a dog walk beside you … he’ll = contraction of he will

If I were – If I was… If I were = hypothetical, e.g. “if I were to assume the following…” If I was = actual, e.g. “If was rude to you yesterday I apologise”

Lay – Lie Lye … lay = to lay something down … lie = to lie down yourself, but past is “I lay down” (or “I laid down.”) Confusing, huh. Plus lie (n. and v.) can = an untruth, or to tell an untruth. Then there’s lye = caustic soda

Mark – Marque … mark (n. and v.) = symbol or visible scar, etc. … marque = brand, e.g. of car

Occassional – Occasional … occassional = wrong! Correct = occasional

Palate – Palette – Pallet … palate = the roof of your mouth … palette = type of tray on which artists lay out their paints … pallet = a platform on which to stack, transport and/or store goods

Rain – rein – reign … rain = precipitation … rein (n.) = part of horse’s bridle (also used as verb e.g. “to rein in) … reign (n. and v.) = governance or office of royal person, act of doing so … another trio of very common, classic goofs in English

Theirs – There’s … theirs = belonging to them … there’s = a contraction of there is

Who – whom … oh, that one again! Who = subject pronoun, e.g. “who is going to the party tonight?” … whom = object pronoun, i.e. when person is the object of the sentence, e.g. “whom did we invite to the party?”

Yours – Your’s … your’s = wrong! Correct = yours – you don’t need the apostrophe because the word is possessive in the first place.

READY? It’ll be the most useful “two bucks fifty” or “less than two quid” you’ve spent in a long time!

What people are saying about it already

“If you’re writing for business or business blogging, then simple mistakes that we all make at times can be the difference between your reputation as a good business person and an amateur. Suze sets out the most common mistakes that people make, and makes it easy to check the spelling and use of words with this easy to read eBook. I’d highly recommend that anyone who writes for their business purchases a copy and makes regular use of it!” Nikki Pilkington, Social Media Marketing Support

“This is brilliant! Some of those I have been using wrongly for years. I never got the whole There, Their (and the other one) thing so this is a really good idea and I would recommend it as a good learning tool. It really works as a revision tool, too so you’ve got a whole market of teenagers to get into prior to exam hell.” …Angie W.

I love it. Thanks Suze, and it certainly reminded me of the meanings of words and when and how to use certain words.” …Lynn T.

“Something I could recommend … I’m sick to death of correcting things like lose/loose, there/their, except/accept, etc. I know I ought to be tolerant, but it still drives me mad!” …Cathy D.

Never slip on a Banana Skin word again – for less than the cost of a sandwich! 


As soon as Paypal tell me you’ve paid, I’ll email your copy of Banana Skin Words and how not to slip on them to you right away. If you have any problems buzz me on suze@suzanstmaur.com