The Write Stuff
March 2015 Volume 11 Issue 3
What Are You Doing Wrong?
I chuckle when someone responds to one of my edits with the retort: “I always see it that way.” The fact is, many words and phrases are misused all the time—so much so that people think the wrong way is right. Here are a few examples:
- Towards, anyways, afterwards. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Drop the “s” and you’ll be right.
- For all intensive purposes. Uh, no. The correct phrase is “for all intents and purposes.”
- Irregardless. Not a word. Ever.
- Compliment and complement. Use compliment when offering praise and complement when noting two things work well together.
- Than and then. Use than for comparisons and then to note what comes next.
- Discreet and discrete. Discreet means to be careful, while discrete means distinct.
- Assure, ensure, insure. Assure means to guarantee, ensure means to make sure and insure should only be used when referring to insurance.
Finally, let’s look at who and that, two words often misused and frequently unnecessary.
- Use who when referring to people: Cubs fans who are attending spring training are seeing lots of power.
- That sentence is also OK without who: Cubs fans attending spring training are seeing lots of power.
- This sentence is wrong: The Cubs’ brass that have to decide Kris Bryant’s future have a conundrum regarding service time.
- This is correct: The Cubs’ brass who have to decide Kris Bryant’s future have a conundrum regarding service time.
I encourage you to write right…and let’s play ball!
And or &?
Is it appropriate to substitute an ampersand (&) for the word and? I say no, and most style guides agree with me. Grammar gurus note that ampersands should only be used in the most informal situations. The exception to this rule is when a company name includes an ampersand (Ben & Jerry’s), when the rest of the name is also an abbreviation (AT&T), and in common expressions (R&D). Substituting an ampersand for and within copy is definitely a no-no; while you might think it promotes the “less is more” philosophy—which I endorse—in this case, less is wrong.
Congratulations to Julie Seal, president of Mirus Promotions, for being named a finalist for a Connected Women of Influence award. She’ll learn at the March 25 ceremony whether she won the Woman to Watch Award, recognizing a woman under 40 who has significant accomplishments or success in her chosen industry or profession. Julie leads a successful company that helps clients build their brands and she is an active community volunteer. She also has very good taste in writers!
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