usingtherightwords

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Make Sure the Negative Effect Doesn’t Affect Your Writing


When communicating via the written word, we must be careful to make sure we’re using the right spelling for a word. Otherwise, the meaning will be off, your message will be confusing, your credibility will suffer, and you will lose business.

Spell check works well if you misspell a word, but what happens if you spell a word correctly, but it’s the wrong word? Time to call in an editor!

Know the differences!

Affect vs. Effect: I see these misused way too often. Maybe it’s because they sound like. Maybe it’s because both can be used as nouns and verbs, although affect as a noun is best avoided unless you’re using it in psychology to describe an emotion.

But there are differences. Affect as a verb means “to influence.” Effect as a verb means “to cause.”

With that in mind, my then-fiancée misused it in her master’s thesis, entitled “Behavior Interventions and Supports for Young Children: Do They Effect the Family?” (To this day, she wonders why she didn’t ask me to edit it for her; editing theses and dissertations is one of the 17 editing services I offer).

In case anyone doesn’t understand, simply substitute the word. “Do they influence the family?” makes much more sense than “Do they cause the family?” So, affect is correct.

Incidentally, effect as a noun means “result.”

Here are six more to watch for:

 

Dyeing—refers to changing colors

Dying—refers to death

 

Emigrate—one who leaves a country emigrates from it

Immigrate—one who comes to a country immigrates to it

 

Assure—means to make sure or give confidence

Ensure—refers to a guarantee

Insure—refers to insurance

 

Adverse—means unfavorable

Averse—means reluctant or opposed

 

Disinterested—means impartial (so use that word instead)

Uninterested—means lacking interest

 

Discreet—means prudent

Discrete—means detached, separate

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com 

July 8, 2020 Posted by | Communication, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Happy Anniversary. Wait a Minute!


I recently received this photo as a gift. It’s very nice, and I appreciate it.

Then I did some checking.

25TH ANNIVERARY PHOTO.jpg

There are 300 months and 1,300 weeks in 25 years. And while there are 9,125 days in that span, it doesn’t take leap years into account. In my marriage, that’s an extra seven days.

At least the hours are correct.

I still appreciate the sentiment. And happy 80th anniversary of birth, Ringo Starr!

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com 

July 7, 2020 Posted by | Communication, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Spelling Counts!


Part of good communication is good spelling. Your credibility goes down when you misspell words.

I remember when computers first offered a spell checker. It was great because it caught misspellings that we would otherwise miss, such as when we would reverse letters ( I before E except after C) or leave in an E when we shouldn’t (acknowledge but acknowledgment, judge but judgment).

However, if you spelled a word correctly but it was the wrong word, your spell checker wouldn’t catch it. In journalism, we always had to be careful that we spelled the word public because if we left out the l…

So, here is a quiz I found on businesswriting.com. See how well you do with these commonly misspelled words. Everyone should get at least two right because I gave you the answers two paragraphs ago.

1. Which of the following spellings is correct?

a) acomodate

b) accomodate

c) acommodate

d) accommodate

e) Don’t Know

2. Which of the following spellings is preferred in American English?

a) acknowledgment

b) acknowledgement

c) acknowlegment

d) acknowlegement

e) Don’t Know

3. Which of the following spellings is correct?

a) arguement

b) argument

c) arguemant

d) arguemint

e) Don’t Know

4. Which of the following spellings is correct?

a) comitment

b) comitmment

c) commitment

d) comitmant

e) Don’t Know

5. Which of the following spellings is correct?

a) consensus

b) concensus

c) consencus

d) consenssus

e) Don’t Know

6. Which of the following spellings is correct?

a) deductible

b) deductable

c) deductuble

d) deductabel

e) Don’t Know

7. Which of the following spellings is always preferred in American English and preferred as an adjective in British English? (“He has insulin-__________ diabetes.”)

a) dependant

b) depindant

c) dependent

d) dependunt

e) Don’t Know

8. Which of the following spellings is correct?

a) embarras

b) embaras

c) embarass

d) embarrass

e) Don’t Know

9. Which of the following spellings is correct?

a) existance

b) existence

c) existanse

d) existanc

e) Don’t Know

10. Which of the following spellings is correct for a page at the beginning of a book?

a) foreward

b) forword

c) forworde

d) foreword

e) Don’t Know

11. Which of the following spellings is correct?

a) harass

b) haras

c) harrass

d) herrass

e) Don’t Know

12. Which of the following spellings is correct?

a) inadvertant

b) inadvartant

c) inadvartent

d) inadvertent

e) Don’t Know

13. Which of the following spellings is correct?

a) indispensabel

b) indispensible

c) indispensable

d) indespensible

e) Don’t Know

14. Which of the following spellings is preferred in American English?

a) judgement

b) judgment

c) judgemant

d) judgmant

e) Don’t Know

15. Which of the following spellings is correct?

a) liason

b) liasson

c) liasone

d) liaison

e) Don’t Know

16. Which of the following spellings is correct?

a) license

b) lisense

c) licens

d) lisence

e) Don’t Know

17. Which of the following spellings is correct?

a) occassion

b) ocassion

c) occasion

d) ocasion

e) Don’t Know

18. Which of the following spellings is correct?

a) occurrence

b) ocurrance

c) occurrance

d) occurance

e) Don’t Know

19. Which of the following spellings is correct?

a) perserverance

b) persaverence

c) perserverence

d) perseverance

e) Don’t Know

20. Which of the following spellings is correct?

a) prerogative

b) perogative

c) perogitive

d) preragitive

e) Don’t Know

21. Which of the following spellings is correct?

a) privelege

b) privilege

c) privlege

d) privelige

e) Don’t Know

22. Which of the following spellings is correct?

a) procede

b) proceede

c) proced

d) proceed

e) Don’t Know

23. Which of the following spellings is correct?

a) seperate

b) separete

c) separate

d) seperat

e) Don’t Know

24. Which of the following spellings is PREFERRED?

a) supersede

b) supercede

c) superceed

d) suparseed

e) Don’t Know

25. Which of the following spellings is correct?

a) withhold

b) withhuld

c) withold

d) withhald

e) Don’t Know

 

Answers: 1-d, 2-a, 3-b, 4-c, 5-a, 6-a, 7-c, 8-d, 9-b, 10-d, 11-a, 12-d, 13-c, 14-b, 15-d, 16-a, 17-c, 18-a, 19-d, 20-a, 21-b, 22-d, 23-c, 24-a, 25-a.

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com 

July 6, 2020 Posted by | Communication, langauge, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Its” vs. “It’s:” Not as Easy as ABC (News)


With COVID-19 causing things to change quickly, I have taken to watching the evening news. I used to watch CBS faithfully when I was a kid, so I knew Dan Rather was the anchor, Bill Plante was the White House correspondent, David Martin was at the Pentagon and Tom Fenton was in London.

Now, I watch ABC News because the show runs 16-20 minutes before its first commercial (after that, segments run as little as 22 seconds before cutting to the next commercial break, so I know not to watch it live). In three weeks, I have learned David Muir is the anchor, Tom Llamas is the weekend anchor who also handles the lead story most nights, Whit Johnson handles the lead story when Llamas is off or is anchoring, Jennifer Ashton does medical reports, Jonathan Karl is at the White House, Steve Osunsami is in Atlanta, Matt Gutman is the national correspondent (who recently spent a lot of time in Los Angeles and often reported from outside a Burbank hospital — across the street from Disney, which owns ABC), James Longman is in London and Martha Raddatz makes appearances.

As I watched a newscast last week, something caught my eye, so I rewound the recording and saw this:

ABC screen shot.jpg

You’re telling me that ABC News graphics people don’t know the difference between its and it’s? I can’t believe it. Its is the possessive; it’s is a contraction for “it is.”

It’s truly ridiculous that this made it to air.

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com 

April 21, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Don’t Let Your Modifiers Dangle


A common misuse of language I come across is dangling modifiers, those modifiers make a sentence make no sense.

Example: “Taking our seats, the game started.” Taking does not refer to the sentence subject, game, or any other word in the sentence.

But say, “Taking our seats, we watched the game start” and you’ve solved the problem. Taking now refers to we, the subject of the sentence.

Simple.

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com 

April 17, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

Anybody Know This Song?


Life in the time of coronavirus has me not driving very much — which seems to be the case for everyone because gasoline prices have dropped 50 cents a gallon in my neighborhood.

But I digress.

One of the few times I need to use my car is to drive to the market. Recently, as I listened to radio station KLOS, “Won’t Get Fooled Again” by The Who came on. My car is new enough to have the name and artist come on the screen.

Except that this was what came up:

20200220_174553.jpg

Obviously, somebody got fooled. I hope Pete Townsend doesn’t complain. Or the Coen Brothers, Jeff Bridges or anyone else associated with “The Big Lebowski.”

The Dude would probably be OK with it.

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com 

April 1, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I Actually Do Have the Time for This


In my more impatient moments, I often shout in frustration, “I don’t have time for this!” Sometimes, I throw in a curse word.

This happened today as I was doing my makeshift workout around my condo complex (my gym, of course, is closed; such is life in the time of coronavirus). My headphones came out of my phone that was playing my music, which stops the music and requires me to reset. Annoying.

But as I muttered, “I don’t have time for this (expletive)!” it dawned on me, that, actually, I do have time.

Because we are in the midst of “shelter at home,” I’m finding I’m on vacation mode. I’m moving slower, there’s no money coming in and I can’t go anywhere. So, I do have the time to work out with these little interruptions.

My workouts usually take 90 minutes. What’s another few minutes going to do?

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com 

March 30, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Check the Calendar!


During a recent networking meeting, someone got up and talked about how important it is to get one’s marketing materials in order as soon as the year starts.

“I did this on the very first day of the year, January second,” he said.

Hmmm. What planet starts its numerical sequence with 2?

I think that guy is at least one day short of a month!

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com 

February 6, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Get His Name Right!


I have never met Bob Gale. In fact, I don’t know who he is, and I didn’t know why I would.

But this past weekend, I went to the Hollywood Museum and saw a “Back to the Future” exhibit, and it was there I was reminded that Gale co-wrote the series with Robert Zemeckis.

20200202_102024.jpg

Then I saw this:

20200202_101841.jpg

I did a double-take. Was I really seeing this? His name was everywhere, yet no one noticed the misspelling?

I told the friend standing next to me. He didn’t notice it, until I pointed it out to him. Then he couldn’t unsee it.

I hope Bob Gale finds out about this, contacts the museum and requests the correction be made.

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com 

February 5, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

Don’t Lose Your Loose Balls


While visiting my daughter at Chapman University this past weekend, we played a little mini golf, and my daughter spotted this sign:

IMG_2780001.jpg

Look at the third rule.

How do you loose your ball? Maybe they mean “If your ball comes loose from the course,” but it’s more likely a typo.

And for what it’s worth, I saw numerous people ignore the second rule.

Including us.

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com 

January 29, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

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