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A Rose by Any Other Spelling…Is Not a Rose

It’s something of a curse to care about correct spelling and word usage. It’s like the proverbial fingernails on the blackboard to see words misused…especially by those with college degrees. I once received an email note from a woman with a Ph.D. after her name that said, “Your welcome.”

The explosion of social media has only made matters worse. Writing in a hurry seems to be an excuse for carelessness. Remember when Sarah Palin’s use of “refudiate” on Twitter caused a stir? Then she claimed to be in a league with Shakespeare, who actually did know how to use — and expand — the English language.

You may be writing in a hurry, but readers will peruse your words at their leisure. If they see a typo or misspelling, it could lower their opinion of you by a notch or two. Then, instead of enhancing your credibility as you’d hoped, your expertise may actually be called into question.

Following are some of the words and phrases I’ve seen misused recently in social media, print publications and in books (with the wrong usage in parentheses):

“principal concern” (not “principle”)
“go its own way” (not “it’s”)
“a tenet of belief” (not “tenant”)
“taking some flak” (not “flack”)
“led” (past tense of “lead”)
“whose idea” (not “who’s)
“impostor” (not “imposter”)
“all right” (“alright” is never correct)
“fireplace mantel” (not “mantle”)
“rite of passage” (not “right”)
“someone with flair” (not “flare”)
“real trouper” (not “trooper”)
“had a big effect” (not “affect”)
“straitjacket” (not “straightjacket”)
“The Smiths” (not “Smith’s)

My biggest pet peeve, though, is seeing “everyday” used when it should be “every day.” Nearly “every day” (two words) I see an example of major companies misusing the word(s).  When you mean “every single day,” it’s two words. When you mean “ordinary,” it’s one word, as in:

“She wears her everyday clothes almost every day.”

The good thing is that companies still need to hire professional writers like me to edit and proof their writing. After all, a rose by any other spelling (“rows”?) could be misunderstood.

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