Have you been correcting non-errors? Test your knowledge in the 10 items below. Only two sentences contain an error in grammar or usage. Can you recognize which two? Those two represent errors editors sometimes introduce into sentences that were originally correct.  Do not edit for style--focus on true errors. Choose...
In a recent business writing course, a participant insisted that single quotation marks be used around quoted content and titles of works. He was certain that I was wrong when I told him that double quotation marks are the standard. Was I wrong? It depends where we were standing. In the United States...
I was walking around Seattle's Sea-Tac International Airport yesterday, waiting for my flight to Maui, when I admired a T-shirt with a clever slogan: Washington Rain Festival, Jan. 1st – Dec. 31st What a perfect message, since it rains in Western Washington nearly all the time. Despite the truthfulness of the sentiment and...
This past weekend my blog was down, and I only found out because a loyal reader named Lori let me know. Lori and I exchanged several messages about the blog and the cause of the problem. My final message to Lori included this sentence: I appreciate you letting me know about...
This week two people who subscribe to my e-newsletter emailed me to question a word I had used to start a sentence. One individual was polite; the other was not. The polite individual, who works as a field representative for an insurance company, wrote: Dear Lynn, It has always been taught to...
People in business writing classes have been asking for ways to know whether affect or effect is correct. Here are my best tips for choosing the appropriate word. If you are choosing a noun, your correct choice will be effect 99 percent of the time. The medicine had no effect on...
Have you ever wondered whether to put a hyphen after a prefix that ends with a vowel, when the same vowel follows the prefix? For example, do you wonder which choices are correct in the title of this blog post? The question came up today as I was teaching an...
Today I led a business writing class at a bank, an institution whose work revolves around money--or is it monies? A participant in the class, whom I will call Jim, noted that his manager uses the term monies when referring to funds being disbursed. Jim wondered whether the term money...
Recently a reader had a question about brackets. Mutimba asked, "Where does the full stop go--behind the brackets or inside?" For brackets, he provided this visual: ( ). I was grateful that he included a graphic, since in the United States, where a full stop is a period, Mutimba's...
This past week I led business writing classes for two groups, one in the insurance industry and the other in banking. In both groups the same question came up: How do you write a document for many different kinds of readers, especially if the content is complex? The insurance group's readers of the...