One Word or Two: Use Care With Your Shortcuts

What’s wrong with this headline:

How to Setup a Marketing Campaign
to Capture More Leads

If you recognized setup as incorrect (it should be set up), good for you! You have a better sense of grammar than the person who wrote the headline.

When a verb such as set is used with a preposition such as up, it is called a phrasal verb: set up. Combining a verb with an adverb also creates a phrasal verb: cut back.

But when the elements of the phrasal verb are combined and expressed as one word, they create a noun: set up / setup  |   cut back / cutback  |  break down / breakdown.

Each of the following examples has two sentences. The first uses a phrasal verb (two words), and the second uses a noun — a single word created by a verb and a preposition. (Exception: cut in No. 4 is followed by the adverb back.) Continue

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Avoid Clichés: They’re Boring!

Woman yawning from your boring choice of phrase for writing.The utterances of political commentators are full of clichés:

The fact of the matter is … At the end of the day … He sucked all the oxygen out of the room …

A cliché is a phrase that is overused and lacks original thought. It could once have had meaning and novelty, but both of those characteristics have been lost through years of repetition.

Why should you avoid clichés? Continue

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As Language Evolves, Should You Follow The Trends?

dictionary_new_wordsLanguage continually evolves. At this time of year in particular, we consider words that have emerged to describe new fields, new products or new phenomena.

The Oxford English Dictionary listed 1,346 new words as of September 2016. Yikes!

nws.merriam-webster.com has introduced new words and slang from 2016. Submitted by the public, some are clever and useful, others are simply silly, and some are grammatically unsound.
Continue

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Happy New Year (or new year?) 2017!

new_year_2017Happy New Year! … almost.

Starting a new year poses two grammatical challenges: First, how do we refer to the exact time we begin a new year?

The answer: not 12:00 p.m., not 12:00 a.m., not 12 midnight, but simply midnight.

A favorite grammar site, grammarphobia.com, concurs with my primary reference, The Associated Press Stylebook: Continue

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Concerning vs. Disconcerting: Make The Right Choice

dad_kid_bike_safetyWhich do you say: “Her behavior is concerning” or “Her behavior is disconcerting”?

We all feel concern at some point in our lives: concern for our children’s safety, concern about job security, concern about whether a storm might delay a flight, concerns about health.

Concern is a noun defined as something that relates to or pertains to a person, business or affair; a matter that engages a person’s attention, interest or care, or that affects a person’s welfare of happiness.

Concerning is a preposition that means relating to something or someone; regarding; about. It most often is used to introduce something, so it’s followed by an object and words that complete the thought. Continue

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Email Salutations: Formal or Informal? Comma or Colon?

man_sending-emailEmail continues to be the predominant form of business communication, yet many business climates are becoming even more casual. What’s the best way to start a message? How formal or informal should your salutation be?

The best answer: It depends.

An email opening consists of a greeting and a name. It can set a formal, respectful tone or an informal, friendly tone.

Dear Mr. Lee:
Good morning, Brad.
Hi Brad!

A reader questioned whether to include a comma between an informal greeting and the person’s name: Continue

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Redundancies Make Me Want To Scream!

screaming_womanDo you have days when what should be minor irritations really get on your nerves?

So do I.

Are you sometimes so bombarded by messages from every source — human and electronic — that you’re on constant overload?

So am I.

With the amount of communication we all need to process daily, we owe it to each other to make our messages concise. That means avoiding redundancies.

Reminder: To see if a word might be redundant, question whether it is necessary for the reader to understand your message:
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Benefited vs. Benefitted: Single or Double t?

small_letter_tI’ve written in past blogs about whether you should double the t before adding ed or ing to benefit.

Because I often see benefitted and benefitting, I decided it was time to check other grammar sources:

The Associated Press Stylebook
The Chicago Manual of Style
Webster’s New World College Dictionary
grammarist.com
merriam-webster.com

All five agree that you generally double the final consonant and add ed or ing to words that end with a consonant: Continue

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Toward/s, Forward/s, Backward/s: To s Or Not To s?

man_walks_toward_lakeDo you say or write:

• He walked toward (or towards?) the lake.
• Let’s move forward (or forwards?) with our plan.
• She stepped backward (or backwards?) and stumbled off the porch.

Many sources say either works, but most suggest no s with toward, forward or backward in American English. Similar words that do not need an s are upward, onward, downward and afterward. Continue

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