New Year, Same Writing Challenges
One of the biggest differences between excellent writers and those who aren’t as good is that the former research what they don’t know, and the latter often do not. What I mean by that is even professional writers rely on tools like Google to ensure we don’t slip up. After all, our clients trust us to have their backs.
Here’s some of my recently conducted “research”:
- lie or lay — Do you lie on the couch or lay on it? It’s lie. Lay commonly means “to put or set something down,” while lie commonly means “to be in or to assume a horizontal position.”
- amid or amidst — Do you walk amid or amidstflowers? It’s amidst. Amid means “surrounded by,” while amidst means “in the midst of or middle of.”
- who or whom — Do you ask who you’re traveling with, or whom? It’s whom. Who refers to a sentence’s subject and whom to its object, but an easy way to decide what’s correct is answering the question with he or him. In this case, with him is correct, not with he, so whom should be used. (Handy tip: him and whom end in m.)
The moral of this short tale is if you aren’t sure if the word you’ve chosen is correct, look it up. Online searches are lifesavers—and quick to conduct.
Quote Mark Mania
The most common, and necessary, use of quote marks is to contain verbiage someone said, e.g., “I love Cubbie,” she said. While there are other reasons to use quote marks, one of them is not around acronyms.
Wrong: Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”)
Right: Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
Not sure why writers include those quote marks—but they need to go.
For Two, Not Three
When you use either and orin a sentence, two things should be involved, not three.
Wrong: …works on either your desktop, tablet or mobile phone
Right: …works on your desktop, tablet or mobile phone
Also Right: …works on either your desktop or mobile phone.