Sunday, July 31, 2011

Commonly Misused Words and Phrases - Part I

Certain words are often incorrectly used because of confusion resulting from similarity with other words in spelling or in meaning. The following deserve careful attention:

A, am. Although a is regularly used before words beginning with a consonant and an before words beginning with a vowel, when certain words written with an initial vowel are pronounced as though beginning with a consonant, a, not an, is used. Also, an, is used before words beginning with a silent consonant.

Correct: a one-man business, a union card, a university

Correct: an honor, a historical novel

Above. Avoid the trite use of above as in the phrase, " in the above paragraphs." Better to write "the preceding paragraph," "the foregoing paragraph," or " the paragraph written above." 

Accept, except. To accept means to take willingly that which is offered, to approve or to assent to.

Correct: He accepted the offer. He accepted the invitation.

Correct: The tourist paid on all importations, personal belongings excepted.

Accidently. There is no such word; accidentally is correct.

Accordance, according. "In accordance with ( Not to ) your wishes. According to ( Not with ) your last letter.

Ad. A colloquialism for the word advertisement. Ad. and adv. are correct abbreviations.

Affect, effect. Affect means to exert an influence upon; it is used as a verb but not as a noun.

Correct: The loss of the account did not affect seriously our over-all volume.

Effect may be used as a noun or as a verb. As a noun, effect means result; as a verb, it means to cause.

Correct: We could not effect a change.

Almost, most. Do not confuse the noun most with the adverb almost. "Almost ( Not most ) all the employees have left" or "Most of the employees have left."

All right. Not alright. All right should be written as two words.

Allusion, delusion, illusion, elusion. An allusion is an indirect reference; a delusion is a misconception or a false belief; an illusion is a false or deceptive appearance; an elusion is an escape or an evasion.

Correct: Our president's allusion to higher taxes was well appreciated by the stockholders.

Correct: The convex mirror reflected queer illusions.

Correct: There are those who remain under the delusion that you can raise wages without raising prices.

Already, all ready. Already means by this time or beforehand.

Correct: Your order had already been filled before your letter arrived.

All ready means wholly or completely ready.

Correct: The company was all ready to leave at a moment's notice.

Compare similarly altogether and all together.

Amount. Not to be incorrectly used in place of number. "The number
( Not amount ) of orders was large."

Any place, every place, no place, some place. These words are frequently misused for the adverbs anywhere, everywhere, nowhere, and somewhere

Incorrect: I cannot find the file any place.

Correct: I cannot find the file anywhere.

Aren't I. American usage does not accept aren't with the first person singular. Say "aren't we" or aren't they", but "am I not."

As . . . as. Use in affirmative comparisons. So . . . as is used in negative statement or in questions implying a negative answer.

Correct: This window display is as attractive as the last one.

Correct: This window display is not so attractive as the last one.

Asset. The word asset is essentially a term used in bookkeeping and accounting, and means any item of value owned by a man or a company. It is better not to use the word asset vaguely to identify something of advantage.

Poor: The ruling of the Bureau of Customs was an asset to the importer.

Better: The ruling of the Bureau of Customs was of decided benefit
( Or advantage or value ) to the importer.

At about. Superfluous for about.

Correct: The director's meeting will conclude about ( Not at about ) four o'clock.

Auto. Colloquial for automobile. Abbreviations are not considered proper in formal writing.

1. The term colloquial is frequently misunderstood. It refers to language suitable to familiar conversations; that is, it represents informality. Informality is just as correct as formality when it is appropriate to the occasion. Therefore, to mark an expression as colloquial is not by any means to condemn it, but simply to indicate the type of situation in which it may be used. Indeed, in every situation, colloquial expressions ( or colloquialisms ) are often appropriate than formal ones.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Trite Words and Phrases - Part III

Kind favor, or kind order. Be wary of this word kind. It may be used successfully in some business letters, but not every letter or order is kind.

Line. Do not use in place of merchandise or line of goods.

Poor: Our salesman, Mr. Ocampo, will gladly show you our line.

Better: Our salesman, Mr. Ocampo, will gladly show you our merchandise (or line of goods).

Of the above date. Mention the date always.

Order has gone forward. Tell the customer how and when the order was shipped.

Our Miss Flores. Say, Our representative, Miss Flores, or just Miss Flores.

Poor: Our Miss Flores will call on you next Tuesday, May 5.

Better: Our representative, Miss Flores, will call on you Tuesday, May 5.

Our records show, or Our records do not show. These expressions are similar to According to our records, and all may well be avoided. It is better to say We find, or We do not find.

Permit me to say. It is unnecessary to ask permission to say something.

Please be advised that. Wholly unnecessary. A meaningless introduction to an informative statement. Begin directly.

Proximo. A Latin word meaning on the next. Better to give the exact name of the month unless you are speaking in terms of discount.

Poor: Your order will be shipped on the 5th prox. (or proximo).

Better: Your Order will be shipped April 2.

Correct: Our terms are 2/10 proximo, net 60.

Pursuant to yours of even date. A "worn-out" phrase. Not typical of present-day diction.

Recent date. Vague and unbusinesslike. Better to give the exact date.

Vague: Your letter of recent date.

Definite: Your letter of June 12.

Referring to. Referring to, replying to, regarding the or your, regarding same, wish to say, and similar trite and stereotyped participial opening should be avoided. it is better to begin your letter by answering immediately the question raised in the writer's letter.

"(In answer to your letter of January 10, wish to say that) we are pleased to open an account in your name in accordance with your recent request." The words in parenthesis are unnecessary. To begin with, "We are pleased . . . " gives far more directness to the introductory paragraph. 

Reply. Some authorities feel that this word suggest argument. With certain correspondence writers response or answer is preferable. Perhaps it is better to say "In answer" or "In response to your letter of January 28."

Same. A poor substitute for one of the pronouns it, they, or them.

Poor: Your order of the 3rd received. Will ship same on the 7th.

Better: Thank you for your order of March 3. We expect to be able to ship it to you by the 7th of this month.

State. Often too formal. Better to use say or tell.

Poor: We wish to state . . . 

Better: We are pleased to tell you  . . . 

Take pleasure. A trite expression. Better to say are pleased, or happy, or are glad.

Poor: We take pleasure in announcing our summer line of shoes.

Better: We are pleased to announce our summer shoes for women.

Thanking you in advance. Discourteous and implies that your request will be granted.

Poor: Kindly mail me any information you may have for removing crab-grass. Thanking you in advance for the favor, I remain . . . 

Better: I shall appreciate any information you may have for removing crab-grass.

This is to inform you; this letter is to advise you. Avoid these wordy introductions. Say immediately what you wish to tell the reader.

Trusting this will, or I trust that this will. Both of these phrases are rather trite as well as weak. Close you letters with more original and meaningful expression.

Ultimo. A Latin word meaning the preceding. No longer used in modern business correspondence.

Poor: Yours of the 8th ultimo (or ult.) received.

Better: We have received your letter of September 8.

Under separate cover. Rather meaningless. Better to be specific and give the method of shipping, or omit the phrase entirely.

Poor: We are sending you under separate cover a copy of our book.

Better: We are sending you by parcel post a copy of our book. Or: We are sending you a copy of our book.

Up to this writing. State immediately in your opening sentence what has taken place. For example: "Since we have not received a confirmation of the order you gave us over the telephone yesterday . . . "

Upon investigation. Unnecessary to talk about an investigation. Instead, say what your examination  has revealed.

Valued. Too effusive and suggestive of flattery. Better to omit.

Poor: We appreciate your valued order given to our salesman, Mr. Santos.

Better: We appreciate your order given to our salesman, Mr. Santos.

We take this opportunity. Do not write this meaningless expression. Instead, tell immediately what you intend to do with the opportunity.

Will appreciate; will be glad; will be pleased. In these expressions, will is incorrectly used for shall.

Wrong: I will appreciate your giving me an opportunity to display our merchandise.

Right: I shall appreciate your giving me an opportunity to display our merchandise.

Wrong: I will be glad to discuss this matter more fully with you.

Right: I shall be glad to discuss the terms of our contract more fully with you.

Wish to say; wish to state; would say. All are examples of needless, wordy phraseology. Simply omit.

Poor: Referring to you letter of the 10th, that we cannot fill your order before the first of July.

Better: In response to your letter of March 10, we regret we cannot fill your order before July 1.

Poor: In answer to your inquiry of June 2, would say that we are not permitted to quote prices to unauthorized dealers.

Better: In response to your inquiry of June 2, we regret our inability to quote prices to unauthorized dealers.

Your letter received. Obviously, or you wouldn't be answering. Instead, indicate your answer immediately.

Yours of recent date. Another needless, meaningless introduction. Begin your message immediately.

Poor: Yours of the 9th received and in answer would say . . . 

Better: Your request that all further shipments be sent via Railway Express has been called to the attention of our shipper. 

Poor: Your favor of the 9th has been received.

Better: The quotations submitted in your letter of July 9meet with the approval of our building committee.

Poor: Yours of the 10th received and contents duly noted.

Better: Your order received ____________ .

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Trite Words and Phrases - Part II

Awaiting your. This phrase lacks originality. It is better to say, "May we have an answer at once?"

Beg. Avoid such expressions as beg to state, beg to advise, beg to acknowledge, etc.

Poor: In answer to yours of the 10th inst., beg to state . . .

Better: In answer (or response; or reply) to your letter of May 10, we are pleased . . .

By return mail. This expression has become trite. Be more original and use immediately or at once, or mention a specific date.

Claim. Do not use in the sense of assert or maintain. "He asserted (Not claimed) that the political party had a deficit."

Complaint. Avoid the use of this word. It often irritates and antagonizes the customer.

Negative: Replying to your complaint of the 5th regarding your delayed order . . .

Better: Your letter of May 5 gives us the opportunity to explain the cause for the delay in shipping your last order.

Contents carefully noted. Contributes little to a business letter. It is better to refer directly to what the letter says.

Poor: Yours of the 5th received and contents carefully noted.

Better: The instruction outlined in your letter of june 5 have been followed in every detail.

Duly. Needless.

Poor: Your request has been duly forwarded to our executive offices.

Better: Your request has been forwarded to our executive offices.

Enclosed herewith. Herewith is unnecessary here. Enclosed is would be better.

Enclosed please find. Needless and faulty phraseology. The word please has little meaning in this instance, and the word find is improperly used.

Poor: Enclosed please find a sample of our #1903A black elastic ribbon.

Better: We are enclosing (or We enclose) a sample of our #1903A black elastic ribbon.

Esteemed. Too flowery and effusive.

Poor: We welcomed your esteemed favor of the 9th.

Better: Thank you for your letter of April 9.

Even date. It is much forceful to give the exact date, as Your letter of January 24 . . .

Favor. Do not use the word favor in the sense of letter, order, or check. "Thank you for your letter (Not favor) of October 4."

Handing you. Out of place in the correspondence today.

Poor: We are handing you herewith directions from our Mr. J. C. Cruz.

Better: We enclose a copy of directions prepared by our engineer,  Mr. J. C. Cruz.

Has come to hand. Obviously, the fact that you answer the letter indicates that you must have received it.

Have before me. A "worn-out" expression.

Poor: I have before me your complaint of the 10th.

Better: In answer (or response or reply) to your letter of November 10 . . .

Hereto. Often needless.

Poor: We are attaching hereto a copy of our contract covering prices on linoleum.

Better: We are attaching to this letter a copy of our contract covering prices on linoleum.

Herewith. Often redundant.

Poor: We enclose herewith a copy of our booklet.

Better: We are pleased to enclose a copy of our booklet.

Hoping to receive, hear, etc. Always avoid closing sentences which begin with a participle.

I have before me your letter. The reader is more interested in facts than where you have put the letter.

In due course, or in due time. These expressions are indefinite and weak.

In re. Avoid. Better state the subject immediately or directly.

Poor: In re our telephone conversation of this morning.

Better: In response to your telephone inquiry of yesterday, your order for six generator sets will be ready for shipment tomorrow.

In reply to.

Poor: In reply to yours of the 23rd together with your check for P925. would say --

Better: Thank you for your check of P925. Your order for 15 additional crocket sets will be shipped to you today.

In reply wish to say; in reply would state. These words are unnecessary. State immediately what you have on your mind.

In response to your favor. Trite and mechanical.

Inst. Avoid the abbreviation of the word instant, and the word instant itself.

Poor: Your favor of the 6th inst. (or instant) . . .

Better: Your letter of June 6 . . .

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