Tag Archives: grammar

A Quick Guide to Avoiding Common Writing Errors

10-27-2014 final 489003095From the Harvard Business Review comes an outstanding article on avoiding common errors in writing. The impression your colleagues have of you is often dependent on the written correspondence they receive from you. In this article you will review some of the most misused words in the English; there is also a list of resources at the end of the article just in case you encounter questions beyond the scope of the article.  Click the link below to begin.

A Quick Guide to Avoiding Common Writing Errors

Happy reading!

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For more information on the Business Office Systems and Support department, contact Becky Jones, Associate Dean, bjones@dcccd.edu 972-238-6215.

 


STOP!! Before You Press “Send,” Did You Use the Right Word?

08-10-2015 Word Cloud Graphic--FinalHow many times have you taken a quick glimpse at your message, and pressed the Send button only to discover later that a word in your message had been used incorrectly? The word you typed may have looked similar to the one you intended to use, and you know that the pronunciation of the two words is similar, but the meanings for the two words are very different.

Proofreading for thought content is very important, and the helpful list of words below along with their meanings should be added in to your writing tool kit.

Do – [meaning: to perform] – Example: When do you plan to make your decision?

Due – [meaning: to owe] – Example: The loan is due on July 1, 2017.

Dew – [meaning: moisture] – Example: The morning dew is heaviest in the summertime.

Elusive – [meaning: baffling; hard to catch] – Example: The reason for the disappearance of Flight 370 is still elusive.

Illusive – [meaning: misleading; unreal] – Example: Based on his previous performance, John’s hopes of getting promoted proved to be illusive.

Allusive – [meaning: hinting at] – Example: The mayor’s speech contained an allusive reference to city workers getting a pay raise next year.

Everyday – [meaning: ordinary] – Example: Cecil quickly learned the everyday tasks of his job.

Every day – [meaning: each day] – Example: John’s boss called the office every day to check on the progress of the Denton Project.

Farther – [meaning: at a greater distance; refers to actual distance] – Example: Mariah’s house is actually 5 miles farther from us.

Further – [meaning: to a greater extent; moreover, refers to figurative distance] – Example: If we want to reach a compromise, we need to discuss this issue further.

For – [meaning: use as a preposition] – Example: The message is for Bill.

Fore – [meaning: first; preceding; can be used in combination] – Example: The nurse gave Susie the injection in her forearm.

Four – [meaning: numeral] – Example: The customer bought four cookies.

Ideal – [meaning: standard of perfection] – Example: Gus is the ideal candidate for this position.

Idle – [meaning: unoccupied; not in use; without worth] – Example: The accident on the freeway caused many other drivers to sit idle in traffic.

Idol – [meaning: object of worship] – Example: B. B. King was a legendary idol to many blues fans.

Idyll – [meaning: a description of rural life; idealized, pastoral way of life] – Example: Marjorie was thrilled that Bakersfield was exactly the rural idyll she had imagined.

Its – [meaning: the possessive case of the pronoun it] – Example: The dog wagged its tail.

It’s – [meaning: the contraction for the words “it is” or “it has”] – Example: It’s been a grueling week because the deadlines were changed. It’s okay for the class to work in teams on the next assignment.

Lay – (v) [meaning: to place {hint: if you can use the word place, then use a form of this word}] Example: – Please lay your jacket on Jackie’s bed.

Lie – (n) a falsehood; (v) to recline; to tell an untruth – Example: Gregory told a lie to the arresting officer. The doctor told Patricia to lie down for at least an hour after taking the medication. You should not lie under oath.

Lye – (n) [meaning: a strong alkaline solution] – Example: Many years ago some consumer products contained lye.

Maybe – (adv.) [meaning “perhaps”] Example: If we don’t get to meet as a group today, maybe we can meet next Monday.

May be [meaning: (v)] Example: Although the numerical data in the report is correct, Sally may be revising the summary text information in the report.

To – [meaning: (prep.) (v) [Use “to” when you need to express “action or movement toward something or someone.” When used in this manner (with a noun or a pronoun), the word “to” functions as a preposition (a connector) and is part of a prepositional phrase = to + noun/pronoun] Example: John is moving to Chicago. [meaning: This form of “to” is also used with verbs to express action or state of being—to see, to write, to be, to have, etc. When used in this manner, it is part of an infinitive phrase = to + verb] Example: Jane will have to make other plans.

Too – (adv.) [meaning “in addition” or “also” or “more than enough”] Example: She, too, mentioned Mr. Smith’s recent performance.

Two – (n) (adj.) [meaning Use “two” when you need to express the figure “2” as a word.] Example: Sally brought two of her friends to the concert. Kristin two tickets to the dinner.

Win – (v) [meaning “to get something, by prize or contest” “to achieve a victory”] (n) an act of achieving victory in a contest or a game. Example: I am confident that our team will win the championship this year! Today’s court decision is a big win for our candidate!

When – (adv.) [meaning “at which time” “during which time”] Example: When did Jennifer join the group?

Source: The Gregg Reference Manual, 11th Edition, William A. Sabin, McGraw-Hill, 2011.

If you want to update your writing skills, consider enrolling in the Business Office Systems & Support program at Richland College. You will have a wide selection of courses (offered online and face-to-face) from which to choose. These courses range from basic keyboarding, computer literacy, business communications, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access (includes preparation for the Microsoft Office Specialist certification exam**), office procedures, etc. These courses can all lead you towards a college-credit certificate or a 2-year associate’s degree.

Richland College is located in northeast Dallas at 12800 Abrams Road. For more information contact Becky Jones, Associate Dean, bjones@dcccd.edu at 972-238-6215.

**Richland College is an authorized Microsoft Testing Center.

***Get a Free Copy of Microsoft Office Pro Plus 2013***If you are a student in the Dallas County Community College District, you are eligible to download a FREE version of Microsoft Office 2013 Pro Plus (or 2011 on the Mac) which includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, Outlook, Publisher, and OneNote.

 

 


If You Think Good Grammar Doesn’t Matter, Think Again!
Kyle Wiens, CEO of iFixit, which is the largest online repair community, and also the founder of Dozuki, which is software designed to write technical manuals, says he won’t hire people who don’t have good grammar skills, and here’s why:
  • Grammar is relevant for all companies.
  • Good grammar is credibility, and especially on the Internet—your words are all that you have in blog posts, social media, e-mails, and company websites. He goes on to say that your words, “are a projection of you in your physical absence…for better or worse, people judge you if you can’t tell the difference between their, there, and they’re.”
  • Good grammar just makes good business sense. Wiens’ company, iFixit, has the  responsibility of producing clear, correct online instructions for repairs—just think what would happen if some poorly written instructions caused the wrong wires to get crossed!
Wiens says he has found that people who make fewer mistakes on a grammar test tend to make fewer mistakes in other work-related areas. Details do matter, and grammar is his litmus test to test potential employees’ capabilities. Anyone who wants to work for his company MUST pass the grammar test!’ Read Wiens’ complete blog, “I Won’t Hire People Who Use Poor Grammar. Here’s Why,” which appears in the July 20, 2012 online issue of Harvard Business Review.

If you want to improve your grammar and writing skills, consider taking grammar review and business writing classes in the BOSS program. For more information contact Becky Jones, Associate Dean, bjones@dcccd.edu 972-238-6215.


Part 3 of 3–Did You Really Mean To Use That Word???

This blog concludes a three-part series that has focused on reviewing certain words which sound and look similar. You also can review the blogs presented on December 5 and November 7, 2011, for a complete discussion on troublesome words. As business writers, one goal should be to develop the ability to use words correctly. Using words wisely and correctly will definitely help you to advance and succeed in your business career.

Word Meaning Example
It’s The contraction for the words “it is” or “it has.” It’s going to be another hot, sunny day in Dallas.

It’s been an exciting venture.

Its The possessive pronoun used to show ownership for the pronoun “it.” The dog licked its injured paw.
Lay This verb means “to place” or “to put.” The principal parts of this verb are lay, laid, laid, laying. Please lay the book on the table.

Jack laid the hammer next to his toolbox.

Hint: If you can substitute “place” or “put,” then you can use a form of this verb.

Lie This verb means “to recline” or “to rest.” The principal parts of this verb are lie, lay, lain, lying. I plan to lie down for an hour.

After he took his pain medicine, Jack lay down, and he finally dozed off to sleep.

May be These two words can be part of a verb phrase (helper or with “be” as the main verb). Mrs. Smith may be out of town tomorrow. (may be is the verb phrase—be is the main verb)

I may be going to Chicago next week. (may be—acting as helper verbs for the verb “going”)

Maybe This adverb should be used to express the possibility (or perhaps). If I don’t hear from her today, maybe I will give her a call.
Principal This word can function as a noun or as an adjective. As a noun, it may refer to a business owner, the head of a school, or a sum of invested money. As an adjective, it means “the most important.” The principal approved the student’s absence.

The principal sum will be used to invest in new energy projects.

Principle This word can only be used as a noun. It refers to a “basic law or rule” or “adherence to an ethical code.” John questioned the politician’s principles during the debate on healthcare.
Raise This word means “to cause to lift” or “to lift something.” The principal parts are raise, raised, raised, raising. The candidate’s opposition raised several valid questions regarding the project.
Regardless Means “anyway” or “in spite of” or “nevertheless.” NEVER use irregardless—there is no such word! Regardless of the concern expressed by the committee, the chairman plans to approve the costly project.
Reign This word means “to rule over.” Someday, Prince William will reign as king of the United Kingdom.
Rein This word means “to hold back” or “to restrain” or “to stop”—to rein in.

It can also be used to express unlimited access or pursuits.

The state officials plan to rein in unnecessary spending.

He was given free rein over the committee’s budget.

Retroactive to Refers to being in effect to an earlier time. Never use “retroactive from.” The pay raise was made retroactive to July 1 of the previous year.
Rise This word means “to ascend” “to move upward by itself” or “to get up.” The principal parts are rise, rose, risen, rising. The sun rose at 6:45 a.m. this morning.

The Trinity River has risen to flood stage recently.

Set This word means “to place” or “to put” something somewhere. The principal parts are set, set, set, setting. I set my suitcase down next to my purse.

I set the alarm on my iPhone to sound at 6 a.m.

Sit This word means “to be in a position of rest” or “to be seated.” The principal parts are sit, sat, sat, sitting. I think she needs to sit down and rest for several minutes.

Brian sat with the rest of the family.

Their The possessive pronoun used to show plural ownership. Their mother went to the fair with her friend.
Theirs The possessive pronoun used to show plural ownership. Theirs was a misguided belief.
There’re The contraction for the words “there are.” There’re always two sides to every argument.
There’s The contraction for the words “there is” or “there has.” There’s always hope at the beginning of a new year.

There’s to be light at the end of this tunnel!

They’re The contraction for the words “they are.” They’re going to visit their friend in Chicago.
You’re The contraction for the words “you are.” You’re going to be surprised to see how much progress Mark has made on this project!
Your The possessive pronoun used to show ownership for the pronoun “you.” Your speech covered an interesting topic.

Source: William A. Sabin, The Gregg Reference Manual, 11th Edition, The McGraw-Hill Companies, New York, 2011.

For more information on BOSS software offerings, the BOSS degree and certificates, and how the BOSS program can help you with your career, contact Becky Jones, Associate Dean, bjones@dcccd.edu 972-238-6215.


Part 2 of 3—Did You Really Mean To Use That Word???

This blog is the second in a three-part series that focuses on reviewing certain words which sound and look similar. You also can review the initial list presented on November 7, 2011. As business writers, one goal should be to develop the ability to use words correctly. Using words wisely and correctly is certainly the mark of a talented and skilled writer!

Word Meaning Example
Bare Means “to reveal or expose,” “scant,” “to face up to something” She will bare her deepest fears to the group.
Bear Aside from the fact this word is used to refer to a specific animal, this word can also be used to mean “to carry something heavy.” This word is typically used to describe something burdensome or long suffering. Michael brought the full weight of his office to bear on this matter.Writing this report will be a “bear” of a job!
Between Refers to two people or two things This discussion is between Jack and me.(Caution: don’t use the pronoun “I” here). Reason: The word “between” is a preposition, and any pronouns used with prepositions must be in the objective case—me, us, her, him, you, them, or it.
Capital When used as an adjective, this word means “chief” or “of foremost importance.”An uppercase letter.When used as a noun, this word should be used to mean (1) “the city the serves as the seat of a country’s or state’s government, (2) a large or “principal sum of money,” or (3) a crime “punishable by death.” The church is developing a capital campaign to celebrate its anniversary.The first letter in a sentence should always begin with a capital letter.Austin is the capital of Texas.
Capitol/capitol This word refers to the building in which a state legislative body meets.When the word is capitalized—Capitol—it refers to the building where the U.S. Congress meets. The Alabama state legislators will meet at the state capitol to vote on next year’s funding.The United States Senate agreed to meet at the Capitol this evening to discuss this matter in detail.
Cease Means “to stop” The group received a “cease and desist” order from city hall.
Seize Means “to take by force” or “to grasp” The federal marshal and his deputies seized the illegal shipment immediately.
Complement Means “to complete something” or “to mutually supply what the other part lacks” Dexter feels his writing skills will complement Mary’s research skills.
Compliment Means “to flatter” or “to give free” Amazon.com may offer complimentary movie passes with the purchase of the Kindle Fire tablet.
Assure Means “to give someone confidence” Mr. Smith, I can assure you [give confidence] that the project will be completed on time.
Ensure Means “to make certain” I want to ensure [make certain] that nothing goes wrong at the dinner.
Insure Means “to protect against loss” Mary will need to insure [protect against loss] her diamond ring for $100,000.
Farther Refers to “actual distance” The drive from Chicago to Dallas was farther [in actual distance] than Joe expected.
Further Refers to “a greater degree” or “greater extent,” “additionally” Let’s meet tomorrow and discuss the proposed budget cuts further [to a greater extent].
Hear To be perceived by the ear I can hear the couple arguing right now.
Here Means “in this place” We plan to meet here next Monday.
Home Means “to target” something Elliot will home in on [target] the excessive expenditures.
Hone Means “to sharpen” All business students need to hone [sharpen] their spreadsheet skills by taking an Excel class.
In Refers to a position within The letter is in the file.
Into Refers or implies entry Mark walked into the meeting 30 minutes late
In to Refers the word “in” acting as part of a verb phrase or adverb and the word “to” acting as part of the prepositional phrase or infinitive phrase. All sales reports are to be sent in to the sales manager. (In is an adverb in the verb phrase are to be sent in; “to” is a simple preposition for the prepositional phrase to the sales manager.)Mr. Davis came in to see me. (In is part of the verb phrase came in; “to” is part of the infinitive phrase to see.)

Source: William A. Sabin, The Gregg Reference Manual, 11th Edition, The McGraw-Hill Companies, New York, 2011.

For more information on BOSS software offerings, the BOSS degree and certificates, and how the BOSS program can help you with your career, contact Becky Jones, Associate Dean, bjones@dcccd.edu 972-238-6215.


“Now there, their…they’re not all bad!”

When you need to show a person or object “in a location OR at a location,” use “there.”  Example:  There is a family-style restaurant on I-20 in Shreveport.

When you need to show that someone or something belongs to a group, use the plural possessive pronoun “their.”  Example:  Their mother is getting a promotion.

When you want to use a contraction for the words “they are,” use “they’re.”  Example:  They’re going to be moving to Santa Fe next spring.

For more information, contact Becky Jones, Associate Dean, bjones@dcccd.edu 972-238-6215.

(Photo courtesy of American Pregnancy Assoc. Irving, TX)


Don’t Get Hit By The Old “3-To, Too, Two” Punch!

Avoid the old “3-to, too, two punch” by knowing when to use the correct form of “to,” “too,” and “two.”

Use “to” when you need to express “action or movement toward something or someone.”

Example: John is moving to Chicago.

When used in this manner (with a noun or a pronoun), the word “to” functions as a preposition (a connector) and is part of a prepositional phrase = to + noun/pronoun

This form of “to”  is also used with verbs to express action or state of being—to see, to write, to be, to have, etc. When used in this manner, it is part of an infinitive phrase = to + verb

Example: Jane will have to make other plans.

Use “too” when you need to express the concept of “in addition” or “also” or “more than enough”

Example:  She, too, mentioned Mr. Smith’s recent performance.

Use “two” when you need to express the figure “2” as a word.

Example: Sally brought two of her friends to the concert.

For more information, contact Becky Jones, Associate Dean, bjones@dcccd.edu 972-238-6215