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Inquire vs. Enquire

inquire vs. enquireHaving recently come across this particular distinction, we thought it would be noteworthy to clear it up.

Inquire, meaning to ask for further information, is generally interchangeable with enquire — which is more frequently used in British English.

Some argue that enquire is used in informal instances whereas inquire is more so reserved for formal examinations.

Let’s look at a few examples to fully illustrate the words’ uses:

He was unsure of the movie time, so he enquired further.

They couldn’t help but enquire as to whether the baby was a boy or a girl.

Inquiries were made by the attorney regarding the state of affairs.

She was obligated to inquire about which index to follow for the proper information.

The Most Common US/CAN Spelling Distinctions

CAN-US SpellingIn the English language, we often come across words that are slightly varied in spelling. Coming across these variations, we think one way is correct over another. In most cases, however, it’s just a matter of US English or UK (or Canadian) English.

Is it shoveling or shovelling? Seeing words spelled in ways we’re not used to can make us question whether we’ve been spelling them wrong this entire time. The thing is, neither way is wrong. It’s just a matter of either preference or location. In fact, we probably use a combination of both US and Canadian spelling in our everyday writing.

To ensure you know when and where to spot these discrepancies, the following are some categories (with examples) of word types to watch out for when making US/Canadian spelling distinctions:

Dropping the ‘E’

acknowledgment (US) / acknowledgement (CAN), judgment (US) / judgement (CAN)

Double ‘L’

jewelery (US) / jewellery (CAN), traveling (US) / travelling (CAN)

The ‘OH/OW’ Sound

donut (US) / doughnut (CAN), plow (US) / plough (CAN)

The –og Suffix

catalog (US) / catalogue (CAN), analog (US) / analogue (CAN)

The –or Suffix

favorite (US) / favourite (CAN), color (US) / colour (CAN), neighbor (US) / neighbor (CAN)

The –ize Suffix

organize (US) / organise (CAN), apologize (US) / apologise (CAN)

-ce or –ise?

practice (US) / practise (as a verb) (CAN)

-er or –re?

center (US) / centre (CAN), theater (US) / theatre (CAN)

Distinguish Between Irregular Plurals

irregular pluralsThe following sets of irregular plurals are so commonly confused that you may not even know there were singular and plural versions of them. Especially when heard in spoken word, the wrong usage sounds perfectly correct. The following examples will demonstrate the beautifully obscure nature of the English language in all its inconsistent glory. After reading through these distinctions, you’ll know when to use the right plural or singular versions of these particular words.

Phenomenon/phenomena

Believe it or not, phenomena is the plural of phenomenon. It’s not phenomenons.

As he saw a shooting star, he marvelled at the natural phenomenon.

There are a number of phenomena that scientists are still trying to figure out.

Antenna/antennae/antennas

To make matters even more confusing, the singular antenna has two plural versions. Antennae is the plural form in the context of insect antennae. Antennas is the satellite version. Be careful when making this distinction.

Ted installed an antenna on his roof to pick up more TV channels.

The bee’s antennae were moving in all different directions.

The building’s antennas constantly made a buzzing sound.

Stimulus/stimuli

Stimuli is the plural of stimulus. Not stimulusus.

The stimulus she felt as a teacher was like nothing else she had ever experienced.

Various stimuli can affect the function of the brain.

Index/indexes/indices

Here’s another example of double plurals. Except these ones can be used interchangeably. Both indexes and indices are correct plural forms of the singular index.

This year, the bell-curve index was above average.

Based on this month’s indexes, the recruitment rate was up.

The indices showed a correlation between height and weight.

Tips to Avoid Repetition in Your Writing

repetitionIt happens to the best of us. Words that we use regularly like to hang out in our subconscious. And some linger for longer than others, eventually making their way into our writing through our natural flow of words.

The thing is, if we use certain words or phrases over and over, they start to lose individual impact. And that, sprinkled too much over the whole, weakens the entire body of writing.

This is especially true if you have a set of words you’re required to include in the document (like keywords for search engine purposes). You know you have to use these words, but when a reader sees them too many times, they see through it and you lose their trust. No one likes being sold to.

To avoid too much word repetition, consider the following tips, and you’ll be sure to dodge the habit of sounding like a broken record.

Reword it.

If you’re repeating a sentence for the sake of solidifying a point, or to bring the reader back to the original idea, take a sentence you’ve already written and re-structure it completely. Present your points in a different order. Try to replace as many of the words as you can with new ones that say the same thing. Not only will this solve the repetition problem, it will add a more dynamic rhythm to the structure of your writing — which makes reading much more interesting.

Use a thesaurus.

This tactic is known to be taken a little too far at times. And it becomes obvious in the writing — so use it sparingly. Look up one of your commonly used words and find it a fitting new replacement. Just try not to choose something too obscure, because that will very noticeably show who you consulted for your word choice.

Read your writing out loud.

This is a great habit to develop for more than just avoiding repetition. When you read what you wrote out loud, you hear how it sounds. It’s easy to lose track of this while you’re in the heat of the moment typing away before your brilliance disappears. So when you do revisit your words, say them out loud and hear how well they blend together. You’d be surprised at what you’ll hear.

Break it up.

Run-on sentences are by far the most commonly corrected errors editors encounter. Break up your sentences. Turn one long thought into two or three shorter ones. This way, you’ll inadvertently deal with repetition. And you’ll see what deserves to stay and what can afford to go. Plus you’ll add cadence to your writing that will make it easier to absorb. A nice combination of short and long sentences is more impactful than just one or the other.

Editors and proofreaders, in addition to their multitude of talents, are trained to watch for repetition as well as grammatical errors. If you’re still struggling with this even after applying these tips, professional editing services can help you out.