Yesterday I updated a collection of articles I had written years ago. I made the examples fresher, changing dates like 2009 to 2017 and updating acronyms like TARP (Troubled Assets Relief Program), which no one thinks about anymore.  I also did a grammar and spelling check to make sure I had not introduced any...
You check your documents electronically to try to catch every error. But your grammar and spelling checker may be giving you bad advice. Because it's a software program, it can't read your mind or know your intentions. Also, it can't always distinguish between correct and incorrect sentence structures and the...
When I talked about the rules of writing to a group of professional communicators, the first question they raised was this: Is it acceptable to use both who and that to refer to people, or is only who correct? Before I share my response, consider the question. Which word would...
Do you think you know words well? Take this challenge: Pick the correct word or phrase in every sentence below. No peeking at the answer key until you have finished! 1. This site/sight/cite is ideal for our conference. 2. John made less/fewer trips to Chicago than Karl.  3. Give your input to...
Each of the three short passages below has one error. Can you find all three? Test your skills.  Passage 1:  I just saw the schedule for the conference, and I am frustrated because Caren and Priya's presentations take place at the same time. If I attend Caren's, would you attend Priya's...
As a writing expert who relies on Microsoft's grammar and spelling checker to flag what I don't see, I was eager to test Grammarly's power to find additional errors. I signed up for the premium version and tested it to the max. I wanted to find the answer to...
Lately I have been hearing the word "disconcerning." When it came up yesterday in an interview on NPR (National Public Radio), I knew it was time to write about it.  "Disconcerning" is actually not a word--at least not a correct one. I've just checked all my dictionaries and style guides....
In a recent business writing class, a participant confessed that she didn't know a pronoun from a preposition--and she wanted to learn the difference. Why? So she could feel confident about using language correctly. Knowing the parts of speech can help you: Recognize which words to capitalize in a title and after a greeting. Know...
Guess which is the error:  Best Regards, OR  Best regards,  In email after email (including two this morning), I find people incorrectly capitalizing the complimentary close. The rule is to capitalize only the first word of the close. This rule applies wherever you use a complimentary close: emails, letters, notes, and even texts. These...
To D or not to D?  I published my monthly newsletter today, and it included the phrase "Olympic-size pool." But should it have been an "Olympic-sized pool?"  A subscriber wrote and asked the -sized question. She also wondered whether to wear a striped shirt or a stripe shirt.  Her questions reminded me of my indecision about "school-aged" and "school-age"...