2.1 Common Spelling Errors and Word Misuse

دوره: High-Impact Business Writing / فصل: Spelling, Grammar, Sentence and Paragraphs / درس 2

2.1 Common Spelling Errors and Word Misuse

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I recommend that if you are writing for an international audience, keep in mind that there are acceptable spelling variations in the different kinds of English. Another type of common error in writing is the use of pronouns, and pronoun-linking verb contractions, which sound similar. Some spelling errors are related to the fact that words sound very similar but their meanings are quite different.

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In this first lesson, I’ll address common spelling errors and word misuse. Most of us, of course, use spell check in our word processing software. But many of the examples I’m about to provide are not spelling errors but word choice errors. If there was a word with the spelling you’ve chosen, even if it’s the wrong word, your software may not catch it. Spelling and word choice are important because poor spelling or incorrect word choice reflect poorly on you as a professional, or could cause misunderstanding of your meaning. In this lecture, I’ll address some of the more common spelling and word choice errors, and a few rules to go by. As a person who spent several of my grammar school years in a school in the North of England, I’m quite familiar with the spelling confusion between English and American spellings. I recommend that if you are writing for an international audience, keep in mind that there are acceptable spelling variations in the different kinds of English. I don’t recommend that you alter what is correct for your own country in hopes of using the preferred spelling used in another country. English speakers are generally willing to accept the English or American spelling. Mostly keep this in mind, if you are asked to proofread or edit a document for readership in another country. For example, American and British English tend to have many differences in the spelling of the same words. Notable are the use of -ou instead of -o, as in colour versus color, and -re instead of -er, as in centre versus center. Ise instead of -ize, as in realise versus realize. There are some fairly common errors in business writing which I’ll now review for you. The first is the I before e rule. Do you remember the rule I before e except after c? It’s a rule that was commonly taught in the US. Which has done more to confuse than to help I think. There are so many exceptions to this rule that it is almost pointless. I’m happy to say though that most of our other spelling and grammar rules are a bit more reliable. The rule is generally stated in the U.S. anyway, I before e except after c, except from pronunciation sounds like eye, E-Y-E or ay as in Einstein, stein, eight, vein, and veil. And there are exceptions to the exceptions which are neither, weird, foreign, and leisure, and many more. I could go on of course, but suffice it to say that there are many, many exceptions to this rule, and that the English have a different version of this saying. In 1995, a man by the name of Jef Raskin, wrote a poem about it. Another type of common error in writing is the use of pronouns, and pronoun-linking verb contractions, which sound similar. Following are three of the most common ones. First is the two form of the word who’s, the W-H-O-S-E form of the word whose refers to ownership of something. But the W-H-O apostrophe S form of who’s is a contraction of who and is. The second is the three different forms of the word there. The T-H-E-R-E form of there always refers to a location. The T-H-E-I-R form of their is a plural possessive referring to something that belongs to more than one person. The T-H-E-Y apostrophe R-E form of they’re is a contraction of they and are. The third common error is the two forms of the word your. The Y-O-U-R is a possessive pronoun and shows possession of an object. The Y-O-U apostrophe R-E form of the word is a contraction of the words you and are. So your English teacher told you never to begin a sentence with and, or but, right? Many of us had that experience. Truth is though, it doesn’t break any rules. Of course, you don’t wanna do it more than a couple of times in a single document, but these two words can be used as effective transition words. And while we’re talking about what you were told you couldn’t do but really can, there is nothing wrong, grammatically, with using additionally and however as sentence starters. Sometimes we spell words incorrectly because we pronounce them incorrectly. For example, the word difference. Many people pronounce this word difference and as a result have a tendency to spell it incorrectly. Take care to pronounce words properly. Colloquial pronunciations can cause us to spell words incorrectly. Some spelling errors are related to the fact that words sound very similar but their meanings are quite different. For example, the word accept has positive connotation but the word except has a negative con, connotation. In some cases, we tend to use the wrong word because we think it sounds more formal. The word utilize is an example of this, in that, writers sometimes use the word utilize simply to sound more formal when in fact it does have a slightly different meaning than the word use. If you use people, it is assumed that you’re doing it with deceit or malice. However, if you utilize people, you are acting with good or pure intent. And often, it connotes a fair or reciprocal benefit to both parties. The word utilize implies that something is, something different or special is being done to solve a problem. To come with an innovative idea or to convert something. Some words, such as the word unique, are just used incorrectly. The word unique means special, one of a kind, or remarkable. This means that something cannot be very unique, more unique, quite unique, or really unique. A better word choice in this cases would be unusual, innovative, extraordinary or incredible. The sentence, the purple cow was very unique, is repetitive. Either there is a purple cow, or there isn’t. You could however, say the purple cow was unique in her coloring, as was the blue striped one standing next to her.

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