Semi Colon or Em Dash?

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Semi Colon or Em Dash?

semi colon em dashWhen it comes to separating thoughts and clauses, this tends to be quite a complex distinction to make. Especially when you involve colons and commas as well. Oh, the joys of the English language! For the most part, a semi colon and an em dash are interchangeable — used to separate an afterthought (much like this one).

Just in case you wanted to know the full story, here is a more in-depth breakdown of each:

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Like vs. Such As

STRICTLY (1)This is a very common instance of confusion, although in most cases the two are interchangeable. Only a real stickler (or very dedicated editor) would single these out as errors. In any case, it helps to know what these words’ proper uses are.

Again, if used interchangeably, either like or such as are correct when introducing either a list or comparison:

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Tips to Ensure Professional Writing is Always Professional

26452116_sCatchy headlines, sales copy and fictional writing are inclined to break the rules of writing and get away with it. And all the power to them. That just means professional writing is easier to execute on account of its simple rules and expectations.

If you want your professional or business writing to always have a professional tone, there are a few things to keep in mind to ensure you don’t sound like a used car salesman when speaking to your current and prospective clients. (Using terminology like “used car salesman” is not one of them.) The following are some tips to keep in mind to ensure your professional business writing sounds like it means business.

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When to Drop the “s” at the End of Words

33078078_sWe see it all the time in all kinds of words: toward and towards, anyway and anyways, afterward and afterwards. Generally speaking, these words have the same meaning with or without the “s,” and both are correct, grammatically speaking.

For some reason, people tend to think that adding or removing this magical “s” can have the power to change words and meanings completely. Luckily, this is a simple concern to address because that is not the case.

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Which is the correct past tense?

18452561_sThe following examples ought to clarify the confusion many have regarding which version of the past tense to use. There seems to be a misconception that one is correct and the other isn’t, however, this isn’t the case. It’s actually very simple. In most of the following cases, both versions of the given words are acceptable, wherein one (-ed) is more widely used in North America and the other (-t) is used more so outside of North America (the UK, Australia, etc.).

Learned vs. Learnt

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The Run-down on Capital Letters

A_(capital_and_small).svgFor the most part, distinguishing between when it’s appropriate to use capital letters is pretty straightforward. Places like the start of a sentence and people’s names are no-brainers. However, there are instances where people use them that aren’t always correct. For the sake of consistency, you should be aware of the right ways to capitalize. So here are the right times to use capital letters.

Most essentially, capitals are used in proper nouns and titles (words that describe specific entities). For example, if you were to use the word president on its own, it would be lower case. If used specifically to describe someone like President Bill Clinton, both the title and the name are capitalized. See how that works? The same principle applies to the word university, for example. You can say someone read many books while attending university. Or you can say they read many books while attending the University of Toronto.

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To Join Words or Keep Them Separated?

16897006_sAre we going all together or travelling as a whole altogether? This distinction is often confused. So, we thought we’d bring our attention to it so you can avoid any future misuse. The following examples will demonstrate when to keep it as one word, and when to use two words instead.

Altogether vs. All Together

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The Importance of Following a Style Guide


If you’re involved in any sort of business, you’re bound to create written material that will in some way, shape or form communicate what you’re doing with the rest of the world. To ensure your quality of writing is consistent (especially if you’re dealing with multiple writers and contributors), you need to develop and follow a style guide. If all contributing parties follow the same guide, you avoid sloppiness and irregularity. And no one needs that to distract from the main message you’re trying to convey. With the amount of discrepancies and exceptions within the English language, we need to select the ones that make the most sense to us. And then stick to them.

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The Elusive English Language and its Lack of Phonetics

16617603_sThe English language is known for having an exception to every rule in the book. Thus, not making any sense whatsoever. Words like Colonel, Wednesday, February, sherbet, scissors, laugh, poignant and yacht have been giving native and non-native English speakers a headache for as long as they’ve been around. They aren’t written at all the way they’re pronounced. And there’s no rule to learn to make sense of any of them. You just have to learn to pronounce them as they are. Sorry.

Phonology is a branch of linguistics that deals with systems of sounds pertaining to the relationships between the sounds of language. This is what makes pronouncing words easier. If they’re written the logical way, it makes it easier for us to read them.

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Commonly Confused Words

commonly-confused-wordsThe following examples are words that are very similar to each other, stemming from the same root and often the cause of confusion as a result. Don’t worry — confusing these words is very common and doesn’t make you horribly wrong because differences are subtle. Thankfully, we’re here to put things into the right context. So from now on, you’ll know the right time to use the right ones.

Continual vs. Continuous

Something that is continual involves a start and stop. Like weather, for example. It will always rain, snow, etc., but it happens here and there. Also things like having a cold, arguing with someone or having to go for jury duty — all of these are continual.

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