When you sit back and really take a look at the English language — at least our North American version of it — it almost seems unbelievable how we ever learn to communicate. With words that sound the same but are spelled differently, words that look the same but sound different and different rules for similar words, it’s enough to make native English speakers crazy, let alone someone learning it for the first time.
Here are 5 examples of how English really makes no sense at all: (more…)
If you’ve been paying attention, you know that using long, complicated words is not the path to clear communication. But even if you’ve learned that lesson and practice it daily, you can still take it a step further.
Within many sentences in every type of writing are little words that just don’t need to be there. They don’t necessarily ruin what you’re trying to say, but your writing will be simpler and more to the point without them. (more…)
This month’s “vs.” selection deals with three words that are often confused, even though one of them refers to a number. If you listen to someone speak, you’ll notice that some version of this word is used incredibly often.
It’s usually used correctly when spoken, but writing it out causes some major headaches. It’s also a source of frustration for those reading your words who know which one to use. Let’s clear up the confusion right now, so you’ll never make the mistake again. (more…)
These days, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who hasn’t been a victim of the autocorrect feature on their mobile device at least once. That thing seems to have a mind of its own. It often creates words that aren’t even words, or corrects your word to something that has no place in the sentence you’re trying to write.
The results can be embarrassing, unsettling or even downright scandalous. However, most of the time autocorrect mishaps just make it look like you are a poor speller or don’t know which word to use in a particular grammatical situation.
It’s becoming easier and easier to lay the blame at the feet of that stinking autocorrect, but the time has come for you to stop blaming autocorrect and take responsibility for your own writing. (more…)
If you’ve been writing for a long time, you’re well read and/or well educated, and you happen to have a large vocabulary, it’s not uncommon to want to show it off. After all, long and complicated words that only a handful of people can understand make you sound smarter, right?
Naturally, the answer is no — in fact, using big words may even make you sound less intelligent. (more…)
For this installment of our ‘vs.’ post, we thought principal and principle could use some clearing up. Many of you rarely have an opportunity to use either one in your writing, so mix-ups are a common occurrence.
Of course, ignorance is never an excuse for misusing your homonyms, so even though the mistakes may be completely innocuous, it’s time to learn the right way. (more…)
In an earlier blog post, we briefly touched on the subject of active sentences and passive sentences. Usually called active voice and passive voice, this designation affects the meaning and effectiveness of almost any sentence.
Writers are constantly instructed to write in the active voice, but it’s not always easy to distinguish between the two. Here are some tips to help you along. (more…)
Dashes are used in all types of writing for many different reasons. To the untrained eye (which is almost everyone, including lots of seasoned writers) these dashes are all the same. However, all dashes are not created equal and you may get dinged by an editor if you use the wrong one in the wrong situation.
Confused? I feel your pain. Dashes come in three different varieties. You have your hyphen, the em-dash and the en-dash. It’s challenging to write effectively and use immaculate grammar when you make mistakes that you didn’t even know were mistakes. Read on! (more…)
If you’ve ever had to look through an article or other piece of writing that was presented in a large font, you may have missed some rather obvious errors. Whether the writing was your own or someone else’s, large type lends itself to grammatical and spelling errors being left on the page instead of corrected.
Despite the wording in the title of this post, the issue isn’t really with the size of the type, but with the person editing it. (more…)
Whether you’re creating a monthly report, a term paper, a website or a short story, a writing outline is usually a good starting point. A proper outline helps you organize your thoughts and ideas and presents them in logical form.
This simplifies the writing process, because everything is laid out in front of you. In a way, you can “empty your mind” onto the screen or paper, and the likelihood of leaving out any pertinent information or plot twists is minimal.
Below are three different ways you can create an effective writing outline. Choose the one that appeals most to your personality and get to work! (more…)