Writing For Business

Rubix CubeThere are many words in the English language that business people mix up with another word that sounds like it or looks similar, such as right and write, or affect and effect.

As a marketing guy I seem to be held to a higher standard than other business people and work hard to pick the write word each time.

While it is impossible to list all of them I thought I would provide a few good examples and if you want hundreds more you can always go to a great resource called the Dictionary of Sound-Alike Words. (Sounds like a Monty Python skit to me)

a lot – many, as in: A lot of people are doing business online today. much, as in: Some people worry a lot about their health.
alot – Wait a minute, there is no such word as alot! It should be two words: a lot, if you mean many or much, or allot, if you mean distribute.
allot – give out or distribute, as in: We will allot the prizes by date of contest entry.

adverse – hostile, as in : The adverse weather conditions forced them to turn back.
averse – reluctant, as in: I am not averse to hearing your suggestions.

affect – to act upon or influence, as in: Strong emotions can affect your health.
effect – (1, a noun) immediate or direct result, as in: What effect does that medicine have on you?
(2, a verb) accomplish, as in: He braided the bedsheets to effect an escape.

climactic – having to do with the climax of something, as in: The villain falling off the cliff was the climactic scene of the movie.
climatic – having to do with climate

device – invention, as in: If your device works, I think you should get a patent for it.
devise – think up a way to do something new, as in: HTML was devised to tell a Web browser how to show the relative importance of lines of text in a Web document.

elicit – draw out, as in: The band’s performances always elicit praise from the critics.
illicit – not allowed, as in: Illicit copying of another person’s work is punishable by law.

especially – standing apart uniquely from the rest, as in: The air quality where I live is especially bad. <gasp>
specially – given unusual treatment, as in: Look in the specially-marked boxes for your entry blank.

farther – more distant in space, as in: Each day I try to walk a little farther than the day before.
further – additional or more, as in: If there are no further questions, we will adjourn the meeting.

may be – two words (verbs), as in: I may be wrong, but I think the store is closed.
maybe – perhaps (adverb), as in: Maybe we can get a toy for you tomorrow.

no body – no group, as in: No body of laws enacted by humans can be called perfect.
nobody – no person, as in: Nobody is mad at you.

simple – uncomplicated, as in: She likes to wear simple styles in beautiful colors and patterns.
simplistic – overly simplified, as in: The drug problem hasn’t been solved by simplistic slogans like “Just say no”.

stationary – in the same place, as in: In the ancient past, people believed the earth was stationary and that the sun revolved around it.
stationery – writing paper and envelopes, as in: A resume should be on fine stationery. (inboxFX email stationery)

who ever – who as a pronoun and ever as an adverb, as in: Who ever comes to this deserted place?
whoever – anyone who, as in: Whoever wants this book can have it. (My mom would say this is when you use “whomever”)

uninterested – unconcerned, as in: I knew she was sick because she was uninterested in food.
disinterested – not influenced by personal motives, as in: To mediate this argument, we need a disinterested person.

I hope you found these useful. If you enjoyed this article and don’t want to miss the next one click here to get my marketing posts by email as soon as they are published. You will be prompted for an email address and you are set to go.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. realworldnumbers says:

    One more thing… how about the way people say the word “distribute”.

    It’s not “dis-TRI-bute”, it’s “di-STRIB-yute”.


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