While making a comment on Marcia Yudkin’s excellent Marketing for More forum, I realized I was not sure of the spelling of a word. I was writing a comment something like this:
When a website doesn’t contain an About Us page, I bail. (Or do I bale?)
Do you know which word is correct?
All I knew was that I did not know for sure. So I looked up both bale and bail.
It turns out that I wanted bail: “to abandon a project” or “to extricate from a difficult situation.”
If you are feeling smug because you knew the correct word and I did not, I caution you about hubris. In the business writing classes I teach, MBAs and PhDs catch themselves making mistakes with principal/principle, peak/peek/pique, flush/flesh, complement/compliment, home/hone and many other homonyms and near homonyms.
It’s always a good idea to use a dictionary if you are not sure, and it’s an even better idea to have a friend who loves words help you by proofreading your important messages.
Or get my “60 Quick Word Fixes,” a guide to the most common word usage errors. It provides you with easy memory devices and aids to choose the correct word.
But no matter how much you study, please remember this: To air is human.