How to loose your credibility

Loose and lose are similar. They’re easy to misuse and easier to mistype. I like to refer to mixing them up as “misused pears.” Some people might wonder, “who cares?” The answer is that, if those who care include potential employers, clients, customers, or other people who can directly influence your livelihood, you’d better care. In other words, you lose credibility with careless word choices. “Lose” always points to a kind of failure: failure to keep or win. “Loose,” on the other hand, has a connotation of freedom. If your jeans are loose, you’re free to move comfortably. Or if … Continue reading

Evolution of words

Our word “blue” comes from an old “Common Romance” word blavus. So? Blavus seems to come from the Latin flavus, which means yellow. Over the years, neither the spelling, nor the pronunciation, nor the meaning of words stays put. “Baroque” comes from a word that refers to a misshaped pearl. Music and art critics of the early and middle 18th century used it to refer to the style of earlier generations that they considered unnatural, overly ornate. In other words, these critics intended “baroque” as a derogatory term. It referred to music, architecture, paintings, etc. that violated “modern” notions of … Continue reading

Reigning in misused pears

Someone riding a horse or driving a horse-drawn carriage reins in the horse to control its direction. Elizabeth II reigns in the United Kingdom. So what does the following come-on for a marketing instruction program mean? “How to help reign in your online audience and 
keep them from doing price comparisons when 
considering your product or service.” Is the marketer supposed to control the audience like so many horses? Or be its monarch? Reign no longer means rule. I suspect someone put in the extra letter because it looks more impressive, or something. Rein and reign are not simply a … Continue reading

Write Good Online Content and Reuse It (Without Making It Dizzy)

You can get my latest ebook, Write Good Online Content and Reuse It (Without Making It Dizzy), free for the next five days (May 29 through June 2, 2013). If you’re reading this post after that time is over, it costs only $2.99. My regular readers know that I am a stickler for proper word usage, good grammar and correct spelling. While all good writing requires clarity, reading online is enough different from print that writers must achieve clarity a little differently. Writers of print content seek a publisher, who handles all of the marketing and distribution of its books, … Continue reading

Spelling, punctuation, and other fun topics

People who like to read and write like words and like playing with words, sentences, punctuation, and anything else that comes along with reading and writing. Now that so many of us are BFF forever with our electronic gadgets, we have new tools for communicating—or failing to communicate, as the case may be. Word processing software now comes with spelling and grammar checkers. I expect most writers find them helpful, but they don’t make a very good crutch. For one thing, some of the grammar checkers contain hard-coded grammatical errors. And even if the suggested correction isn’t simply wrong, it … Continue reading