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The Write Stuff
November 2020 Volume 16 Issue 11

Don’t Be a Turkey

This is the time of year when turkeys take center stage. While there’s no chance you’ll be plucked, stuffed and served for dinner on Thanksgiving, if you rely solely on Microsoft Word’s spelling/grammar check, you could end up being a turkey anyway.

Over the years, I’ve seen countless online spelling and grammar suggestions that are absolutely wrong. I sincerely hope you don’t blindly accept what’s recommended — assuming the software knows better than you do. That’s not always the case, as you’ll see in the following examples:

My copy: The company’s early years…
Suggested: The companies early years…

This assumes I was referring to multiple companies (which I was not), plus it lacks the apostrophe that would be needed after the “s” if that was the case.

My copy: Our customers request three things…
Suggested: Our customer’s or customers’

Apostrophes are needed to denote possession, but customers in this instance is merely a plural word.

My copy: The specialty of gerontological counseling…
Suggested: erotological or deontological

I admit hadn’t run across gerontological before, so I looked it up to ensure it was correct — and it was.

Even though this is a big month for turkeys, you don’t want to be one. Take spelling and grammar suggestions made by Word under advisement; if in doubt, find a second source to either verify or overturn them.

Remove Redundancies

Some redundancies are easy to spot — such as the phrases added bonus, end result, free gift and new innovation. But others can creep into your writing unless you are on high alert. Check out this clause:

To begin, let’s first…

Spot the redundancy? If you have already established you are beginning, it’s not necessary to use first as well.

Start Smart

If you choose to begin a sentence with the word first, be sure to use second for the next point, rather than secondly. Also ensure there actually is a second point — since using first without one is likely to make readers think you’ve forgotten something; first implies there is more to come.

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