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"...
When you cut words to make your business writing more concise, be sure to keep the prepositions you need. Some prepositions bring structure and clarity to your sentences. Learn which ones below.  A client wrote to me asking whether he needed to use the prepositions in these sentences: We finished on December 2,...
Let's face it. In 2015 typos hid undetected in our writing. So did errors in grammar and punctuation that we would have recognized if we weren't racing to upload, print, or click Send. Mistakes happen.  But some mistakes happen over and over--not just from moving too fast but from lack of understanding. The 10 items below illustrate...
In the past week, two clients have written to ask whether they should refer to their company or division using the singular it or a plural pronoun. Below are their examples, slightly disguised. The underlining indicates the pronoun they doubted. Company X wishes to express our sincere appreciation for Company Y’s...
Passive voice verbs sneak into everyone's writing--at least in first drafts. When your grammar and spelling checker flags a passive verb, how quickly can you rewrite the sentence? My Microsoft grammar and spelling checker underlined 10 of the 11 passive verbs below. Its only miss was were completed.  See how fast you...
A reader named Michelle sent me an excellent capitalization challenge. She received a brief article (indented below) to publish in a magazine, and she wants to follow standard capitalization rules.  Which categories of capitalization would you change in Michelle's example? Would you change job titles, divisions, or anything else? (I...
At lunch today I read the following sentence in an advertising supplement in The New York Times: Our wine team is comprised of devoted wine lovers who are some of the most respected professionals in the industry.  Your test: Is the phrase "comprised of" correct, or should "composed of" replace it? Why?  The...
In my work as a business writing teacher, I read samples of writing from managers and employees at all levels around the country and the globe. In 2014 I repeatedly saw three errors. Two of them are punctuation mistakes; one falls into the grammar pot. Can you find the top...
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...
The other day a subscriber to my free monthly newsletter, Better Writing at Work, wondered whether this month's "Error Quest" paragraph had two errors rather than one. Donna wrote: Isn't there another error in the paragraph? What about "I feel bad"? Shouldn't it be "badly"? (I feel HOW? badly---an adverb.) Maybe I am wrong,...