Archive | Online Words

Are you misusing quotation marks?

We’d have a tough time surviving without quotation marks. A famous writer once observed, “Quotation marks allow us to identify what someone actually says, as opposed to simple statements being made by the writer.” Okay, I’m that writer, but the quote illustrates one of the primary roles of quotation marks. The other is to denote […]

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Contractions really aren’t painful

One of the biggest misconceptions about writing involves those handy word combinations we call contractions. You’re familiar: cannot becomes can’t, will not shortens to won’t, and so forth. When professional writers insert those contractions into their work, clients are often confused. Some doubt the competence of the writer they’ve hired or assume that the writer […]

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Are you after fame or notoriety?

Many words have been misused so often that their meanings have started to blur – and writers who should know better start using the wrong words in the wrong places. A recent national magazine article reported that a particular musician had earned his notoriety by producing a couple albums. In this case, “notoriety” was the […]

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It’s okay to repeat yourself and repeat yourself

Many companies and organizations seem to have a paranoia about repetition. Once they mention something in an email newsletter, a blog, or on a website, they don’t think they should mention it again. If someone suggests a repeat discussion of that topic, they’ll reject it outright, adding “we promoted that already” or “we already told […]

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Always use familiar definitions

As I looked on, mother began to materialize around the edges of the copper vessel. Did that confuse you? Baffle you? It’s a completely legitimate and accurate statement. Mother often appears when someone is making alcoholic beverages, and it has nothing to do with the personal habits of the woman who brought you into this […]

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Unique is nothing but unique

Think you’re unique? Great! Think you’re very unique? You’re not. That’s because there’s no such thing as being “very” unique, or “somewhat” unique, or “more” unique than the other folks. The word “unique” is powerful because it has one meaning. Something that’s unique is “singular” or “one of a kind.” Only one. No others. No […]

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