(Posted on behalf of Bill Willard. Welcome to our newest guest author!)
By Bill Willard
A “small-business owner” usually runs his or her
but a “small business owner” is always a shrimp.
Along with the
incredible conveniences, email comes with a major pitfall: People are
careless about their writing. And yes, as in the small-business owner/small
business owner example, even a missing hyphen can be an embarrassment. Is this
the end of the world? No. In casual communication with friends and family, a
few misspellings and grammatical gaffes are no big deal.
with customers? Very big deal!
Not to put too fine a
point on it, but even a few email goofs make sharp cookies look like dim bulbs
in life’s marquee. Yet, SBOs who faithfully proofread printed correspondence
somehow can’t be bothered thumb-checking email messages before hitting “Send.”
Is Your Spelling
& Grammar Checker On?
If you’re using Outlook
Express or Microsoft Word, chances are the spelling & grammar checker is
turned on. If it isn’t, it should be.
To turn on the
automatic spelling changes in Outlook Express, click on Tools, then Options and then select the
Spelling tab; in Word, click on Tools, then Options and then select the
Spelling & Grammar tab. Put checks in the proper boxes and you’ll be in
Want to Know More? The University of Wisconsin’s website offers a
first-rate tutorial on spell checking in Microsoft Word (among other subjects).
Some words slip by
spellcheckers every time if all the letters are in the right places, but the
usage is wrong. Here are some common examples.
Try This: Put a check mark next to errors you realize you
make or others have pointed out to you; then work on getting them right.
means bad or unfavorable: Motion had an adverse effect on his well being.
· Averse means
opposed to or disinclined: They were averse to attending the presentation.
· Can means
ability to do something: I can go to the store.
· May means
permission to do something: May I go to the store?
· Data and
media are plurals, as in…
· The data
she presented were convincing.
· The media
are expected to report the facts.
· Effect means
to bring about or cause: Lost income can has a bad effect on lifestyle.
· Affect means
to influence: Lost income can badly affect lifestyles.
· Fewer refers
to things that can be counted: Fewer clients attended last week’s seminar.
· Less refers
to things that cannot be counted: She has less to offer than other advisors.
Or when referring to time or money: This car costs less than that one.
· Like governs
nouns and pronouns: Garry ran like a deer.
· As is used
in constructions with a verb: She acts as a young adult would act. Or
when introducing examples: Some advisors, such as O’Reilly, are best at
group presentations (not like O’Reilly).
· Its is a
possessive pronoun: The cat licked its paws.
· It’s is a
contraction: It’s a great way to earn a living.
· Lie means to
recline or be located: Lie down on the sofa.
· Lay means to
put something down: He lay down on the sofa.
· Principle is
a comprehensive and fundamental law, doctrine, or rule of conduct: He was a
man of principle who followed the principles of good government.
· Principal is
person in charge; the leading performer: The President was the principal
architect of that policy. Also, a sum of money; a bequest or the corpus of
an estate: The investment was part principal, part interest.
introduces a restrictive clause: Henry liked the proposal that I gave him.
introduces a nonrestrictive clause, which adds information preceded by a comma:
The proposal that I gave to Henry, which he liked, is in his best interest.
belongs to them: This is their boat.
· There means
in that place: The program is in there.
· They’re is
a contraction: They’re going to work.
· Who refers
to people: This is the client who called this morning.
· That refers
to things and animals: The horse that Alice rode was fast. Or when
referring to a class or type of persons: They are the kind of prospects that
always want more details.
· Who refers
to the subject of a sentence: Ken asked who was handling his account.
· Whom refers
to the object of a sentence: The advisor whom Ken asked for was out of the
office. (Or: “For Whom the Bells Tolls!”)
· Whose is a
possessive pronoun: Whose book is that?
· Who’s is a
contraction: Who’s going to pay for this?
And Try This: One
more gaffe to avoid: Emoticons, those
symbols denoting the user’s frame of mind that can be inserted into email. Very
impressive…if you’re 12. Otherwise, not!
Is any of this fatal?
Not in small doses; but you only
get one chance at making a first impression. If that comes in an email to a
client or promising prospect, why not put your best foot forward by watching
what you write?
The Goof-Proofer, Stephen J. Manhard, Collier Books, NY, 1987; The
Elements of Style (Third Edition), William Strunk, Jr. and E.B. White, MacMillan
Publishing, Inc. NY, 1979; Edit Yourself, Bruce Ross-Larson, W.W. Norton
&Co., NY, 1992; Line by Line, Claire K. Cook, Houghton Mifflin
Company, Boston, 1985.
More? Send questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bill Willard has been
writing high-impact marketing and sales training primarily for the financial
services industry for over 30 years—but as Will Rogers put it: "Even if
you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.” So through interactive, Web-based
"Do-While-Learning™" programs, enewsletters and straight-talking
articles, Bill helps SBOs and independent professionals get the job done:
profitably improving performance, helping grow your business, skipping expensive
mistakes, making the journey to small-business success faster, smoother,
easier. And fun!
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