A friend sent me a sentence that popped out at her from the first paragraph of a report:
Without further adieu, let's get started.
It sounds correct, doesn't it? But I am certain the writer did not mean "Without further farewell"--not at the beginning of his report!
Clearly the writer intended "Without further ado." What went wrong?
I have two theories: (1) he simply typed what he heard in his mind, or (2) he was not aware of the homonym pair ado-adieu.
If he simply typed what was going through his mind, he needs to start proofreading what he writes--especially if his success depends on people's confidence in his reports. I wrote about this problem in my post "I Right Email and Reports." And he must use his grammar and spelling checker. When I typed "Without further adieu," my Microsoft Word grammar and spelling checker flagged the error and neatly offered the correct word.
I suspect my second theory is correct: He was not aware of the homonym pair. It is possible that he has never read or noticed the word ado and just assumed adieu was the word he wanted. Still, Microsoft could have helped him.
People who attend my business writing courses are often surprised to learn about certain word pairs. In the pair compliment-complement, they did not realize that complement is a word. In flush-flesh, they are surprised that "flesh out an idea" is correct--they had been flushing theirs out. And they are slow to agree that "the principal reason" is correct--they would have sworn "principle reason" the winner.
Maybe it is because people do not read a lot. I am not sure. But I am sure that flushing out ideas is bad for one's career!
If you are someone who might have written "Without further adieu," I designed two products to help you become aware of unintentional errors. "60 Quick Word Fixes" covers 60 confusing word pairs or triplets, and it includes a test. "Error Quests" offers 50 brief proofreading tests, each with a single error. In "Error Quests," some of the errors involve word choice, some punctuation, and others sentence structure.
Why do people make such errors? Lack of awareness? Failure to proofread? Please share your view.
PS: Learn about our upcoming classes, including Proofreading Like a Pro.