|Lightning image from Suvro Datta |
“Lightening” for “lightning.” People who should know better make this mistake all the time. Even some websites where I found the images of lightning called it “lightening.”
“Lightening” is a progressive verb, meaning “making lighter”—in weight or in colour.
- “Using bleach is lightening the colour of my shirt.”
- “Help from the community is really lightening my workload.”
“Try and” is another common error.
- “I’ll try and get there before 8:00.”
“Two-month anniversary.” Newscasters, who should know better, kept using this phrase as the Occupy Wall Street protests continued into their third month in November. An anniversary is something that happens once a year. The syllable “ann” comes from the Latin word for “year.” The protest may have reached the “two-month mark” or “point,” but not an “anniversary.”
The most awkward sentence construction I have ever seen takes this form:
- “This causes problems for our and our supplier’s accounting departments.”
- “The document must bear your or your representative’s signature.”
- “This copy is for his and his agent’s records.”
The solution: rewrite the whole sentence. Start over by thinking about what you want the reader to do after reading the sentence. (That’s the G for Goal in Get a GRIP).
- “The author and his or her agent should retain copies in their records.”
- “Please sign this document yourself, or have an authorized representative sign it on your behalf.”
- “This causes problems for our accounting department as well as our suppliers.”
That’s the Writing Tip for this week. Use the Comments section below to add your own!