Which words?

Which word?

Have you ever read a document that was full of incorrectly used words?

What impression did it give you?

It is quite common for people to use words incorrectly that sound the same but have different meanings. Is this due to laziness or because they never learnt the correct word to use in the first place?

In a business context, the incorrect use of common words can make you and your business appear unprofessional.

Here are some words that are commonly used incorrectly:

PiecePeace
WhereWear
ThrewThrough
WeatherWhether
QuietQuite
YourYou're
ItsIt's
AffectEffect
KnowNo
CouncilCounsel
PrinciplePrincipal
ToToo
TheirThere
CourseCoarse

Do you have words to add to this list?

How to ensure that you use the correct word

Some simple techniques can help ensure you come across as a credible professional.

Here are three tips to help you use the correct words in your documents.

  1. Keep a dictionary nearby if you’re not sure which word should be used. By checking its meaning you’ll be able to avoid some embarrassing moments
  2. Check if there is another word that could be used which has the same meaning and won’t cause any confusion
  3. Ask someone else to check your document – a fresh set of eyes can often find errors that we don’t see.

We know what we mean to write. Unfortunately, it is not always what we actually write.

You may be thinking, “I’m ok, I’ll just use the spell checker.

What a great back up tool. However, BEWARE!

Look at this passage which made it through the spell checker with flying colours.

Catch that Spilling Error

As an addled service, I am going two put this peace in the spilling checker where I tryst it will sale threw with flying colons. In this modern ear, it is simply inexplicable to ask readers to expose themselves to misspelled swords when they have bitter thinks to do.

An adaptation of a passage written by Norwood B Gove in the Scholarly Publishing October 1989.

One final note …

In this day and age of smart phones and texting, remember that if you reply to or write a business email on your phone you should be using ‘real’ words and complete sentences.

For example:

Are you coming to the meeting tomorrow?

vs

R u coming 2 the meeting 2morrow?

By focusing on using the correct words you’re on your way to writing a professional looking document.

Share your thoughts and writing experiences.

If you would like to learn more ways to write clearly, then you may be interested in my Business Writing Made Easy online course or contact me for a no obligation discussion about your business writing needs.

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Learn About This Author
Maria Pantalone

Maria Pantalone

Maria Pantalone is the author of Success Talks: Conversations with Everyday Leaders. Maria works with individuals and teams to make communication their strength so that their message is heard. She provides tailored programs in presentation skills, business writing and effective communication as a leader and team member. Maria’s programs help her clients to excel in their role and be recognised as leaders in their field.

Comments 2

  1. Avatar

    Thank you Maria for this interesting blog. It is not easy to write what you say, especially if English is your second language. I do try and correct as I go if I realise the mistake. Writing this comment should be an easy task, and it is not. I stop and think of the correct grammar and spelling, and it takes me a long time to put it together because I know that a well spoken, English trained person, will be reading this! On the other hand it’s good to train my brain and receive a feedback for future improvements.
    Kind regards,
    Ewa K.

    1. Avatar

      Thank you for your comments, Ewa.
      I applaud you for making the effort to write a comment. Practise helps you to become confident when writing – especially if you know others will be reading what you write. Well done!

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