Ulla de Stricker, de Stricker Associates
Following on her piece in the January 2013 issue, Ulla de Stricker offers additional examples of common but easily avoidable errors in English language usage.
“Their” … let’s get singular and plural alignment straight!
WRONG: Each client is asked to make their payment … A user gets their password from …
“Their” can be used only in the context of multiple people, projects, and so on.: Users make their selections … Customers choose their products … Projects get their funding from … According to their preferences, clients receive customized …
SOLUTION IF YOU’RE NOT SURE: Avoid “their” altogether. Clients are asked to make payments … Each client is asked to pay by … A new user may obtain a password from … Users may obtain passwords from …
Reticent vs. hesitant … He who hesitates
Complement or compliment?
Complement = match; Compliment = praise … with an “i”. Therefore:
The staff complimented the designers on the paint job, saying how well the new colors complemented each other. (The colors don’t praise each other.)
Complementary or complimentary?
The two strategies are seen as complementary. The new policy is a complement to the existing safety regulations. The loot bags are compliments of the sponsor. In business class, headphones are complimentary.
The rationale for being rational is well understood.
WRONG: The rational for the policy is not well understood.
MEMORY TRICK: The stress on the last syllable elongates the word, so there’s an e.
As a loyal employee, the management committee decided to reward you …Who is on the right hand side of the comma?
WRONG: As a preferred customer, we want to introduce our new premium service …
SOLUTION: Construct a sentence:
Even without the “as” the problem persists:
WRONG: A skilled manager, his team respected him. An accomplished musician, her audiences adored her.
SOLUTION: Construct a sentence: He was a skilled manager, and therefore he had the respect of his staff. She was an accomplished musician, and her audiences adored her.
In regards to … Remember “comprised of”? There is no such expression!
WRONG: In regards to item 4 on the agenda …
SOLUTION: Forever banish “in regards to” from your vocabulary!
There/their/they’re; your/you’re: Let’s just get it right!
WRONG: As for the managers … there new Blackberrys haven’t arrived? Your kidding?
The above examples are a mix of many errors. FOLLOW THESE MODELS:
There are three meetings today. There could be a room conflict.