Tag Archives: email tips

Can Google Be a Verb?

woman thinking about Google searchAs is the case with many nouns in the English language, frequent usage dictates that Google has evolved to a status of both a noun and a verb.

As a noun, Google is a search engine you can use to find a variety of online information. As a proper noun (a specific person, place or thing) and a trademark, it is capitalized.

As a verb, google is the action of using the search engine Google to find information on the internet. When used as a verb, google can be capitalized or expressed in lowercase letters.

Example: If you want to know who founded Google, just google it!
(Answer: Larry Page and Sergey Brin, in case you really want to know.)

When it comes to grammar, I often say that I choose to not be on the forefront of change. But my research shows that google (lowercase) was officially considered a verb by the Oxford English Dictionary in June 2006. Adopting usage 12-plus years after it was considered acceptable is hardly on the forefront of change.

History: Google attempts to protect trademark
In 2013, Google took legal steps to stop Sweden’s Language Council from adding “ungoogleable” to its list of new words. Its meaning: something that can’t be found on the Web using a search engine — any search engine.

An attorney specializing in trademark rights and representing Google noted:

Ironically, because of Google’s “significant brand recognition,” the company has started down the path of becoming synonymous with search engine services and, accordingly, towards the genericization of a trademark.

Genericization? Who’s quibbling about language use here?

He pointed out that becoming a generic is bad, because it threatens a company’s legal right to a trademark. (A quiz in my book tests readers on brand names Band-Aid, Crock-Pot, Fiberglas, Formica, Jacuzzi, Jell-O, Kleenex, Popsicle and Q-tips.)

Google’s noun / verb concerns date to 2006
A Google blogger expressed the company’s concerns in a 2006 post about the use of Google as a verb:

A trademark is a word, name, symbol or device that identifies a particular company’s products or services. Google is a trademark identifying Google Inc. and our search technology and services. While we’re pleased that so many people think of us when they think of searching the web, let’s face it, we do have a brand to protect, so we’d like to make clear that you should please only use “Google” when you’re actually referring to Google Inc. and our services.

But a representative of Merriam-Webster countered this claim in the 2013 NBC article mentioned above:

There are three criteria for a word making it into the Merriam-Webster dictionary: Widespread usage of a word, “sustained use” and “meaningful use.

By the time we did the copyright printing of the Collegiate Dictionary for 2006, we had enough evidence in our files to show that the verb “google” had met all three criteria for entry. It’s worth noting that the verb “google” dates back to at least 1998, according to recent information we’ve gathered.

Google not the only brand to become a verb
These products became verbs decades ago. Using them as verbs in advertising jingles probably promoted their use in everyday language of the time.

1920s–‘30s Motorist wise, Simoniz (car wax)
1940s Hoovering or hoover up the carpet (clean with a Hoover vacuum cleaner)
1960s Ziebart your new car yet? (rustproofing)
1960s Go Krogering (shop at Kroger grocery stores)

Many definitions use examples to show that certain forms of a word might be nonstandard or incorrect.

For example, some sources say to capitalize Google whether using it as a noun or a verb because it’s a trademark (Associated Press). Other sources show it in lowercase as a verb (Oxford).

When you use Google / google as a verb, you have a choice. Make your decision and stay with it for consistency — at least throughout a blog, emails, an internal newsletter, or a corporate entity’s communications in general, as organizations often have differing internal style guides.

Google as a verb is entrenched in our everyday language. It’s recognized by, among others, Merriam-Webster, Oxford, Macmillan, Cambridge, Dictionary.com and Wikipedia. Whether you google, googled, are googling, have googled or will google, join me in considering it an acceptable way to describe an online search.

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How to Create and Punctuate Bullet Points

bullet_pointsBullet points help readers scan what you’ve written, quickly drawing attention to key issues and facts. They can tell readers what needs to be done, provide step-by-step instructions, highlight important elements, or list features.

Bullets can be round, square, triangular, diamond, or even customized or whimsical graphics. When listing steps to take, numbers can serve as bullet points to emphasize the correct sequence.

There are no fixed rules of grammar about how to use bullet points, but here are some guidelines. Continue

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Headline Lessons: Contractions, Redundancies, Verb Forms

HeadlinesToday is a holiday in the U.S. — The Fourth of July (Independence Day) — so many of you probably are not in your office or at your computer.

But my email list is not limited to U.S. residents, so I went to my latest collection of headlines to develop a post for those of you who are toiling through this American holiday.

Headlines and the grammar lessons they teach


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Writing Tips: 5 Techniques to Boost Your Readers’ Comprehension

Barbara McNichol

Whether it’s an email, a report, or a chapter in a book, are you sometimes challenged to make your writing easier to follow?

What are ways to create a smooth flow that guides your readers?

My friend and colleague Barbara McNichol, a nonfiction writing and editing expert, offers suggestions. Consider her tips to improve your writing: Continue

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8 Reminders for Better Emails

Laptop, speaker, envelopes graphicEmail continues to be our primary mode of business communication. It’s often the first contact you have with — and the first impression you make on — a potential customer or employer.

A mastery of grammar helps you choose the right words and punctuation. This infographic has tips that show you not only how to compose a message that’s effective; it shows you how to create an email that’s visually pleasing and easy to read. Continue

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3 Worst Places to Make Grammar Mistake: News Headline, Report Title, Email Subject Line

www.RuthlessEditor.comNews headlines draw us into a story. Report titles summarize what our readers can expect. Email subject lines should do both.

That’s why these are the three worst places to make a grammar error.

Here are four headlines that don’t pass my Ruthless Editor grammar test and how they could be better: Continue

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Periods and Commas Are Ultimate Insiders

www.RuthlessEditor.comWhen you start writing, whether an email, a blog, a report or the next chapter of your book, you don’t want to interrupt your flow by stopping to ponder punctuation. It makes sense to get out your words and thoughts first, postponing punctuation decisions until later.

As you begin to fine-tune your copy, you might get stuck trying to remember what goes inside and what goes outside quotation marks. These tips can help.

In American English, commas and periods always go inside quotation marks, even when quotation marks enclose a single word. Continue

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3 Tips to Solve the Who vs. Whom Dilemma

www.RuthlessEditor.comFewer and fewer people seem to recognize when to use who and when to use whom. Have who and whom become interchangeable? 

It depends on whom you ask.

There still are people who value grammatical correctness, and there still are those who will judge you for not knowing the difference between who and whom.

These three tips will help those who care but get confused:


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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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12 Tips For Better Business Emails

email tipsThe concept of email emerged in 1971, and the familiar format — Date, From, To, Subject, Message — is based on the memo format of the typewriter era.  Typewriters have gone the way of the dinosaur, but there doesn’t appear to be anything on the horizon to replace email.

Brushing up on grammar is a good first step to improving your electronic business communication. Here are a dozen killer tips from a ruthless editor to help you fine-tune your email skills. Continue

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