If you spend a lot of time mixing it up with writers on other blogs and forums you’ll have no doubt noticed that one particular topic of conversation invariably gets many fellow copywriters right real hot under the collar.
OK, so you’ve probably guessed already – and that is the subject of what is correct and incorrect use of the English language.
Now the issue of spelling and grammar isn’t generally something I’m going to discuss on what is essentially an SEO copywriting blog.
And secondly, as we should all know perfectly well by now, there is so much more to high-quality website content than simply writing copy to a good level of grammatically correct language.
I couldn’t help but notice the strength of reaction by many writers to a recent dailywritingtips.com blog post that questioned whether certain words, which have made their way into our everyday vocabulary, were indeed acceptable words at all.
If you’ve read the post, you’ll have noticed that many of the words, such as commentate and preventative, were included in the list owing to the fact that they’re relatively new adaptations of much older words.
Now in my view, we should all learn to accept that English is a living language, which is continually evolving. And so the notion that many of our new words and phrases are somehow bad English is, to me, utterly ridiculous.
At the same time, there does come a point where every copywriter and editor has to draw the line.
These are the words and phrases that:
- Really do NOT exist
- Will NEVER exist (by virtue of their stupidity)
- Are blatant incorrect use of English
- Will make any copywriter that uses them look like a clown
Here are just 5 of the very worst offenders, although it has to be said that there are many, many more:
As it happens, there is such a thing as a toothcomb and it refers to a comb-like dental arrangement found in certain animals. But one thing it definitely isn’t and that’s something for combing teeth.
What, of course, the writer actually means is a fine-toothed comb, namely something that conveys the idea of going through things in fine detail.
In times gone by, new cloth was hung out and stretched, or suspended, on a frame in order to prevent it from shrinking. This was known as tenting, because of the similarities to a tent, and the hooks used were known as tenterhooks.
So now you know the background to the phrase, there’s no excuse for incorrectly writing on tenderhooks ever again.
You often see the phrase a much sort-after location in property sales literature. But when you go in quest of something, you seek after it not sort after it.
So quite clearly the correct term to refer to something in demand is sought-after.
In the throws of
The correct form is in the throes of and it comes from the rather archaic word throe, which means a violent pain or struggle.
So when you’re in the throes of something, you’re going to considerable pain or effort in order to get through it.
As this was the best example from the genuinely non-existent words in the dailywritingtips list, it only made sense to mention it again here.
Now you can say either regardless or irrespective. But one thing you cannot say is irregardless. If you do, you just end up looking stupid.
And this now leads me to make just one more final point. That is, if you think these non-existent words will make YOU look stupid then just imagine how they would make your client look.
So what do you think? Whether you agree, disagree or would like to suggest other non-existent words for our list then please leave your views in our comment section below.
In our next post: If you’re a website owner who’s not yet sure whether to have a blog or news feed as part of your content generation strategy then our 3-point checklist will help you choose.