Grammar Giggle – Getting Ready for the Heat Heat

This was on my local news station this weekend since our big news is the record breaking heat wave we have in store this week. I know it will be hot, but I think one “heat” would have conveyed the message just fine.

Heat Heat

Grammar Giggle – Military Unintelligence

My cousin sent this one to me. Seems to me that if “intelligence” is part of the name of your event, you would figure out how to spell it correctly. This is particularly important if you are spending the money for such a big banner.

Military intelligence

Why Proofreading Is Important

Some people think because they’ve written something and read along as they write, that’s good enough. Some people think they don’t have the time to proofread something that the author should have checked. Some people think they aren’t smart enough to proofread someone else’s work. And believe it or not, some people don’t think proofreading is important. Here is my take on that.

why proofreading is important

The author’s reputation is at stake.

While an author could be a great writer, could have great content, and could tell a great story, if it is hard for people to read, they won’t. Not everyone is as interested in good grammar (or is a psycho–take your pick) as I am, but I do know people who can’t get through to the message the writer is trying to convey because of grammar errors. Once we see a few mistakes, we are obsessed with finding them all–all to the detriment of actually reading the substance of the message and, thus, the author’s reputation, in our minds, is not good.

Accuracy is important.

Particularly in the legal field and in legal documents, accuracy is important. Many a time errors have made a difference in how a legal document was enforced, how property in an estate was distributed, and how a lawyer’s reputation with the court was tarnished. Opposing counsel love nothing more than to bring substantial errors in filed documents to the court’s attention. Particularly when quotations are incorrect. If opposing counsel files a document showing that your attorney filed something as a quotation which was not an exact quotation, your attorney not only has the embarrassment of having opposing counsel bring that up, but it becomes part of the public record (unless the file is sealed), and regardless of how open the judge would like to be, it has to change their perception of your attorney, your firm, and your client. Although the misstatement of the quotation could have totally been a error in retyping the quoted language, because no one checked it and fixed it, it could have a huge impact on your case.

Your writing delivers its message.

Where there are errors in your writing, people sometimes have a hard time understanding your message. If people don’t understand your message, why are you writing?

People good at proofreading like to help.

Most of the people I know who are good at proofreading would love to help you. Not only does it give us the “first look” at your writing, but for most proofreaders, our mission is to help others and, perhaps, to teach others. If you know someone who is good at proofreading and you need some done, go ahead and ask. The worst thing that can happen is that they say “no” and then you’re at the same place you started. Just two caveats: don’t take advantage and don’t take them for granted. You can’t call hysterical and ask them to proofread something right now and you need it back immediately. They MAY help you that one time, but probably never again. Exercise grace.

You learn–hopefully!

If you pay attention to edits others make to your work, or you pay attention to proofreading lessons you could learn online (especially at a great website and blog like proofthatblog.com!), or you make an effort to be better, you learn something you didn’t know yesterday. That’s all anyone can ask for–to learn something new every day.

Your work product reflects YOU.

If you are the author, your writing reflects you. People who don’t know you get their impression of you from your writing. They could believe that you don’t care enough about your work to make sure it is accurate. If you are supposed to be finalizing documents for someone else in your office and don’t take the time to proofread it and to make sure it is accurate and looks good, then the person who receives it is getting a bad impression of your entire firm and everyone in it–even though only one person wrote the letter or document–some people associate your firm with dumb mistakes. This association could be worse if the mistake was not just dumb, but was more of a major error in a document filed with the court. It seems that with the amount of time spent authoring and editing something, you would want to be proud of your work. Otherwise, why would you waste your valuable time doing it?

All in all, you’ve spent the time and energy to write something you obviously want someone else to read, whether it is a blog post or an important legal document. You should be proud of your work so make it pretty, make it accurate, and make it grammatically correct.

Grammar Giggle – Congratulate Your Gaad

A friend sent this to me from her cousin’s graduation party. Apparently, they have had this sign since their first child graduated.  It is their family funny and now it is a Grammar Giggle.

IMG_3250-2

Grammar Giggle – The Correct Name of The City on the Diploma Would Be Nice!

This was on my local news station. Apparently, another Arizona city high school had a slight problem with their diplomas–they all spelled the name of the city wrong. It should be “Tucson” but is spelled “Tuscon.” I apologize for the quality of the picture so you can’t really see it well. The banners on news programs sometimes drive me crazy because they always seem to cover something up.

Diploma

 

Use It Correctly Or Not At All

Use It CorrectlyHere are some words that seem to have a propensity for being used incorrectly–particularly in the legal setting. Hopefully, this list will help you be that person who does know how to use them correctly.

  • Addictive v. Addicting – This is a very difficult one. Addictive is an adjective. It is a word that answers the question what kind, how many, or which one. In this case, addictive would typically answer the question “what kind,” as in what kind of drug (addictive drug) or what kind of video game (addictive game). On the other had, addicting is a verb when used with an object and means “to cause to become physiologically or psychologically dependent on an addictive substance, as alcohol or a narcotic.”  For instance, “The video game was highly addicting to 10-year-old James.” On the other hand, it would be “The addictive video game was played for hours by 10-year-old James.” Grammar Girl did a more detailed article on these two words at  http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/education/grammar/addictive-versus-addicting.
  • Adverse v. averse – Adverse means “unfavorable, harmful, hostile,” while averse means “opposed [to], having a feeling of distaste [for].” So you are averse to kale, but the opposing party is adverse to your client. Another example is that I am averse to meatloaf, but meatloaf is not adverse to the American diet.
  • Affect v. effectAffect means “to change or make a difference to a result” while effect means “to bring about a result.” For example, “The new overtime policy affected Sally’s bank account,” while “The new overtime policy had the effect of lowering Sally’s weekly paychecks.” When you’re trying to decide, substitute “brought about the result” for “effect” to see if it makes sense. In this case, “The new overtime policy brought about the result of lowering Sally’s weekly paychecks,” so effect is the correct word. But “The new overtime policy brought about the result of Sally’s bank account” doesn’t make sense, so the correct word is affect. Another example would be “The new traffic laws had the effect of making rush hour traffic more difficult.” You can replace it as “The new traffic laws brought about the result of making rush hour traffic more difficult.”
  • Complimentary v. complementary – Complimentary means “an admiring or flattering remark,” while complementary means “something that completes” or “something that is free.” One way I remember the difference is that complImentary means that “I” am paying you a compliment while complEmentary means something that is fre”E” or compl”E”tes something. For instance, “The reviews of my presentation were complimentary (flattering) and the audience liked the complementary (free) pens that were given away.”
  • Council v. counsel – Council is a “group of people who manage or advise” while counsel is “advice or to advise” or “the attorney conducting a case.” So “The city council [group of people who manage or advise] voted on the new shopping center based on counsel [advice] of outside attorneys.”
  • Deserts v. desserts – Deserts are large expanses of land usually at a high temperature such as Arizona has a lot of desert areas.” Desserts, on the other hand, is typically a sweet ending to a meal “My favorite dessert is anything sweet.”
  • Ensure v. insure – Ensure is to “make certain that (something) shall occur or be the case” and insure is to “arrange for compensation in the event of damage to or loss of (property), or injury to or the death of (someone), in exchange for regular advance payments to a company or government agency.” So “Tom will ensure [make certain] that the records are intact so he can arrange to insure [arrange for compensation in the event of damage] his new house.”
  •  Further v. farther – Farther refers to an actual distance, while further refers to a figurative distance and means “to a greater extent” or “to a greater degree.” So when you say “He went 30 miles farther than he intended to,” that is correct because it is an actual distance, but if you say “He went further on his trip that day than he intended,” it is really saying he went to a greater degree of distance than he intended to.
  • Tortuous v. Torturous – Tortuous means “full of twists; complex” while torturous means “full of pain or suffering.” Thus, “Proofreading the Ninth Circuit Court brief was a tortuous [complex] exercise.” But “The questioning by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals panel was torturous [full of pain and suffering] on the unprepared attorney.”

There are so many other words that are easily confused. Do you have something that you or someone in your office constantly uses incorrectly? Let me know and we’ll include it in a future blog post with definitions and examples so they can start to get it right.