The Write Stuff
April 2014 Volume 10 Issue 4
Time Marches On
Is time really on your side? The Rolling Stones seem to think so–but in reality issues dealing with time can derail your communications efforts and/or confuse your readers.
1. Be cautious when promising anything will occur by a specific date. For instance, I visited a client’s website for the first time and was surprised to find this copy under the heading Blog: “Our blog posts will be debuting in fall 2013.” The fact that it’s April 2014 makes this company look asleep at the wheel, and doesn’t bode well with respect to its ability to keep other time-sensitive promises.
2. Use dates rather than periods of time. Anytime I see an organization use a phrase like, “For the past 25 years,” I’m a bit saddened. Unless it’s very clear when the copy was written–which isn’t the case on websites and in most marketing collateral–you’re better off using something like, “since 1989.” No matter how much time passes, the latter phrase will still be true, while the former will be outdated after one year.
3. What time is it? Being a “less is more” gal, I follow AP Style when it comes to denoting specific times, e.g., 8 p.m. or 7:30 a.m. Don’t forget to reference the time zone if you’re communicating with people across the country, e.g., 2 p.m. PDT. Also take a care to eliminate redundancies when writing about time, such as 10 a.m. tomorrow morning, 9 p.m. Tuesday night and 12 noon; 10 a.m. tomorrow, 9 p.m. Tuesday and noon will suffice.
What do you know? Time’s up!
Tricky “P” Homonyms
We pour liquid into a glass, pore over a good book and work hard to be rich rather than poor. After I had occasion to correct the misuse of one these homonyms, I wondered how many three-word homonyms there are–and I found a bunch more that begin with “p.” There’s pair, pare and pear; palate, pallet and palette; peak, peek and pique; Pole, pole and poll; praise, prays and preys; and precedence, precedents and presidents.
Why bring up this plethora of perplexing p-words? It’s another example of how hard it is to master English, for both native-born speakers and those for whom it’s a second (or more) language. Kudos to those who try to explain this puzzling phenomenon.
Close But No Cigar
Two words that are often incorrectly interchanged are convince and persuade. Their meanings are close, but not exact; you may be convinced that something or of something, while you must be persuaded to do something.
Right: The fans persuaded them to support the Sharks.
Wrong: The fans convinced them to support the Sharks.
Right: The fans convinced them that it was the right thing to do.
Wrong: The fans persuaded them that it was the right thing to do.
Playoff hockey starts this week, and given how my Cubs have started the baseball season, my championship dreams lie with my San Jose Sharks. Beat LA!
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