Are you using words that destroy the meaning of your message?
Just because two words sound alike when spoken doesn’t mean the written word will carry the same meaning.
And the wrong word used in a written sentence can throw the whole message off track. The reader stops, reads it again, and determines what was meant by what was written. By then, the “flow” is gone.
And while some readers will be forgiving, others will dismiss the writer as someone who isn’t very intelligent or who doesn’t pay attention to details. As a professional, you don’t want anyone to have either impression of you.
Following below are some misused words that I’ve come across in blog posts and emails in the past week or so. These are the ones that sound like the right words, but aren’t.
Those of us who like words don’t have any trouble knowing which to use, but those who got through English classes because they “had to” find it a bit more difficult. (That’s nothing to be ashamed of – we all have different talents and interests.)
I’ve been thinking a lot about how to help them, and so far haven’t come up with any sure-fire solutions.
So here are my (inadequate) solutions for those who aren’t quite sure if they’re writing the right words or the wrong ones:
- Ask a friend who is sure to read some of your blog posts and emails. Tell them to be brutally honest and let you know if you’re using the wrong words.
- When you identify your own “trouble words,” take the time to write out the spellings and the definitions by hand. Then type it and keep adding to the list when you find new ones. Keep that running list by your computer for reference.
Here’s a sample of the “sound alike” bloopers I’ve seen lately:
Through for threw – as in “The athlete through the football.” (Ouch!)
One way to remember that one is to think about the word “throw.” Its past tense is threw.
So let’s say “The athlete threw the football through the goal posts.”
“Give them a peak at…”
Nope, the word is peek. When the clouds parted, we got a peek at the mountain peak.
“Side of the rode.” Here’s a verb (rode) in place of a noun (road).
I could say I rode the horse to the side of the road.
“Digs their heals in.” Another verb (heals) in place of a noun (heels.)
Correct: Joe said that this super-salve heals the cracks in his heels.
“Behave in that manor.”
Well, if you have good manners you would behave in a manor – a manor house, that is.
I have a friend who is a brilliant accountant, but when it comes to words, she’s lost. In fact, some of the “wrong words” she comes up with are downright funny. Fortunately, she isn’t afraid to ask for assistance when she needs to write an important letter.
If you’re brilliant at selling real estate (or staging, or home inspecting, or mortgage lending) but words give you fits, don’t let it get you down. Just enlist the help of a “wordy” friend and then work at learning the words you use often.