Tag Archive for: writing tips

Is it Backward or Backwards?

2024 Grammar-for-Grownups Top 10

 

Number 5: Is She Moving Backward or Backwards?

 

Keep the wacky words coming! Thanks to all of you who have been commenting and adding to our wacky-word conversation these past few weeks. Please continue to post your questions and share your examples. This week’s winner is backward/backwards.

 

Is it backward or backwards? 

 

We’ve all heard it both ways. But only one way is correct: backward.

 

It’s backward. No “s.” Never say backwards. 

 

Allow me to share a helpful gimmick to cement this rule in your mind: If you can’t go forwards, then you can’t go backwards. That’s a fun yet memorable trick for remembering not to put an “s” on those words. We don’t say forwards, so we shouldn’t say backwards. It’s forward and backward. It’s toward, not towards.

 

To customize a keynote or professional development session that will have your audience laughing and learning, contact Mandi Stanley.

Certified Speaking Professional Mandi Stanley works with business leaders who want to boost their professional image by becoming better speakers and writers through interactive high-content keynotes, breakout sessions, workshops, technical writing seminars, and fun proofreading classes. 

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Image by Petra from Pixabay

Are You Aggravated or Irritated? There IS a difference

 What an honor to be on campus at Mississippi College School of Law for in-person speaking event #1 of the year! Ellen Robb organized two days of learning for law students, who heard from inspiring leaders in their chosen profession. Read more

That’s a Whole “Nuther” Story

This wacky word is making a comeback in 2023. Already several times in the new year I’ve heard professional speakers and broadcasters—and even a preacher—use the word “nuther.” 

 

But, I’m posting this blog today because I saw someone actually write it in a paper: nuther.

 

Is nuther a word? Short answer: No.

 

We hear people say, “That’s a whole nuther story.” Or, “We’re looking at a whole nuther level of shenanigans.”

 

However, the solution is not necessarily to correct it with “a whole other story,” which is poor grammar. Rather, I believe the problem lies with the word “whole.” What is actually happening is the speaker is inserting the “whole” between the first and second syllables of “another,” and the result is “a-whole-nother” story. This sounds like “a whole nuther” story.

 

So, the solution is to get rid of “whole.” Just say, “That’s another story.” That’s another story for another day. Whether it’s spelled nother or nuther, don’t say it—and certainly don’t write it.

 

What about you? What’s another wacky word you are hearing and seeing a lot these days and, perhaps, you’ve always questioned?

 

To customize a keynote or professional development session that will have your audience laughing and learning, contact Mandi Stanley.

Certified Speaking Professional Mandi Stanley works with business leaders who want to boost their professional image by becoming better speakers and writers through interactive high-content keynotes, breakout sessions, workshops, technical writing seminars, and fun proofreading classes. 

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Eminent or Imminent

What’s the Word Week 2 Emigrate or Immigrate?

Perhaps you’ve heard these words in the news daily throughout the past year. But, have you noticed that even the media are not always using them correctly? The incorrect word will flash across the news ticker during various news reports, even at the national level, so today we’re deciding between emigrant and immigrant. Should we use emigrate or immigrate? Let’s see how you do in choosing the correct word. Decide upon your answers, and then check your results.

 

  1. More than 7,000 [immigrants, emigrants] left Central America and arrived at the U.S. border last summer.

 

  1. Zamir and his family [immigrated, emigrated] from Turkey in 2019.

 

Scroll for the definitions and answers:

 

Emigrant / Immigrant

An emigrant is one who leaves one’s home or residence by going out. An immigrant is the opposite; immigrants come into a town or country. One little hack that helps me is to associate the “e” in emigrate with “exit” and the “i” in immigrate with “into.” The difference in meanings boils down to your point of view, whether you’re coming or going.

 

Answers:

 

  1. Emigrants
  2. Emigrated

 

And, if you have any clever ways to remember the differences in sometimes confusing word pairs, please comment, and we’ll share them in an upcoming blog post. I’m always on the lookout for tips, tricks, and techniques—even the corny-sounding ones—for remembering grammar guidelines and vocabulary words.

 

To customize a keynote or professional development session that will have your audience laughing and learning, contact Mandi Stanley.

Certified Speaking Professional Mandi Stanley works with business leaders who want to boost their professional image by becoming better speakers and writers through interactive high-content keynotes, breakout sessions, workshops, technical writing seminars, and fun proofreading classes. 

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Eminent or Imminent

Eminent or Imminent? What’s the Word Week 1

Think back a few years and imagine you are sitting in your high school history classroom one day, just waiting for the bell to ring, and your teacher walks through the doorway and tells everyone in the classroom: “Class, put your books under your desk and take out a clean sheet of paper.” 

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How to Be a Better Writer

How to Be a Better Writer: Use a Particular Pair of Scissors

Want to learn how to be a better writer? Use a particular pair of scissors

Truman Capote:

“I believe more in scissors than I do the pencil.”

 

Recently I drew inspiration from a few tips listed in an old newspaper column—because they stepped on my toes. One tip was: “Challenge every word.”

 

When I read that one, I instantly was reminded of a writing lesson learned the hard way. Twenty years ago, I was presenting a Grammar-for-Grownups workshop in Portland, Maine. A man approached me at the first break and said, “Mrs. Stanley, do you realize you’ve said the word particular seven times already this morning?” 

 

Apparently, he had been counting. 

 

He explained, “The word particular is what we consider to be a wasted word in the English language because it adds no value or meaning or clarification to any sentence.” I wasn’t exactly sure how to respond to his observation. It was 20 years ago and much earlier in my career. (I was much younger, period.) So, I smiled and simply said, “Thank you for sharing.” I didn’t know what else to say in the moment. But, when I had a chance to process our conversation after the class, I realized he was correct. I had a habit of saying:

 

On this particular page

In this particular example

On this particular slide

For this particular exercise

 

I DID say particular too much. He made me painfully aware of it, so as a result of our conversation, I have purged that particular word from my presentations and my writing. He taught me to challenge the word particular.

 

Certified Speaking Professional Mandi Stanley works with business leaders who want to boost their professional image by becoming better speakers and writers through interactive high-content keynotes, breakout sessions, workshops, technical writing seminars, and fun proofreading classes. 

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Toilets: Fun with Words Week 4

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Is It Home In or Hone In? Fun with Words Week 2

This photo is of one of the walls in the conference center at the #AloftSeattleRedmond. I was honored to facilitate a three-day Advanced Communications Program for a cohort of emerging leaders for one of my clients, and we all got a kick out of the creative artwork throughout the meeting area. But, can you tell what the wall is composed of? Look closely.

 

 

In fact, we’ll use this photo to introduce our #GrammarforGrownups question this week. Which word is correct?

If you [home in, hone in] on this photo, you can tell the entire wall is composed of old keyboard keys.

Scroll for the answer.

 

 

 

 

 

Answer: home in

If you home in on this photo, you can tell the entire wall is composed of old keyboard keys. 

I have always said hone in similar situations.

 

I have always been wrong.

 

To home in means to get closer to something such as an object or a goal or the truth. Picture a homing pigeon (why haven’t I realized that before).

To hone means to sharpen something—and you don’t hone in on anything.

My son honed his test-taking skills in preparation for the ACT.

And, I’m certainly honing my vocabulary this month.

 

Can you think of other examples of words you have been using incorrectly without realizing it?

 

 

To customize a keynote or professional development session that will have your audience laughing and learning, contact Mandi Stanley.

Certified Speaking Professional Mandi Stanley works with business leaders who want to boost their professional image by becoming better speakers and writers through interactive high-content keynotes, breakout sessions, workshops, technical writing seminars, and fun proofreading classes. 

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