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Blog better! The nine most common writing errors you can easily avoid starting right now

Saturday, October 27, 2012
by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger
Editor of NaturalNews.com (See all articles...)
Tags: writing mistakes, grammar, tips

Writing mistakes

(NaturalNews) As the editor of NaturalNews, I read a large number of articles contributed by writers, and in those articles, I see the same common writing mistakes made over and over again. I don't claim to be a perfect writer myself -- and there are even some grammatical rules I have purposely abandoned (see below) -- but the common mistakes I'm listing below are glaring errors I see repeated everywhere.

If you're a writer, blogger or journalist, pay close attention to this list so that you can avoid these common writing errors in your own work.

#1) "Insure" vs. "Ensure"

To "insure" something means to buy an insurance policy on it. To "ensure" something means to support it or make sure it happens. Far too many writers use the word "insure" when they really mean "ensure."

You'll even find this error in advertisements and product names. For example, there's a nutritional supplement sold in the United States called Insure -- their product name is, itself, a typo! The brand name is "Zand," and you can see their incorrectly-named immune support product right here:

My guess is that there isn't an insurance policy found in the bottle. I don't know about you, but I'm not too keen on purchasing a product named after a grammatical error. If they can't even get their product name correct, it kinda makes you wonder what they're putting in the bottle, doesn't it?

#2) "Nothing could be further from the truth..."

Every time I read this phrase, I cringe. Oh really? Nothing could be further from the truth than the next point this author is going to make? Nothing in the whole universe?

This phrase might be fine in a high school composition class, but in the professional writing world, what it really says is, "I couldn't think of anything intelligent to say here, so I just slapped in this silly, meaningless phrase and hoped no one would notice..."

There's also the extra-crispy variety for this phrase, which introduces another error in "further" vs. "farther," as in, "Nothing could be farther from the truth..." which technically means nothing could be geographically more distant from the physical location of the truth, whatever that means.

#3) "Everyday" vs. "Every day"

"Everyday" is an adjective that means "daily," as in, "He's an everyday guy" or "She has an everyday job."

The two-word phrase, "Every day" just means "each day." For example: "I write an article every day."

The common mistake is to use "everyday" when you really mean "every day." For example, it would be mistaken to say, "I write an article everyday."

Remarkably, you'll find this error in print advertisements, too. Apparently, getting a job writing marketing copy (or editing that same copy) doesn't necessarily require much knowledge about words.

#4) "Ironic" vs. "Coincidence"

Lots of writers will, at one time or another, point out how something they're talking about is "ironic." But in most cases, it really isn't. It's just a coincidence and there's no irony involved at all.

For example, if a guy riding his bike through the park just happens to collide with a bird flying across his path, that's not "ironic." It's just coincidence (they both happened to show up in the same place at the same time).

For this to have irony, there would have to be more to the story. Perhaps the guy is an airline pilot, and on his last flight, he purposely flew his airplane into a bird and killed it. The next day, a bird in the park collided with his face and caused him to fall off his bike. That's ironic because it involves a reversal of circumstances.

Just because two things happen at the same moment doesn't make them ironic. George Carlin even did a comic bit on this same topic. Isn't that ironic? (Heh...)

#5) Safe deposit boxes versus "safety" deposit boxes

For some strange reason, even the Los Angeles Times, Associated Press and other news organizations continue to make this simple error. There is no such thing as a "safety" deposit box. It's not about your safety, after all. It's about keeping your stuff safe!

The correct term is "safe deposit box." People incorrectly derive "safety" from the sound of the two words pronounced in order. The first syllable of "deposit" gets repeated and added to the end of the word "safe," creating, essentially, "safe-dee-deposit."

Remember, if a safe deposit box had anything to do with "safety," it would probably require a seatbelt.

#6) "Notary Republic"

Here's another example of the same kind of error described with "safety deposit box." Many people, upon hearing "Notary Public" take the "re" from the end of the first word and double it up on the beginning of the second word, creating, "Notary Republic."

"... and to the Notary Republic, for which it stands, one nation, under God, invisible..."

There is no such thing as a Notary Republic.

#7) Affect versus effect

This one is easy to confuse. "Affect" is a verb, as in, "The drug may affect different patients in different ways." While "effect" is a noun, as in, "The drug may have an undesirable effect on people."

The word "effect" usually means "result." As in: That poem had a remarkable effect on the woman. This means a remarkable "result."

Here's a good explanation on the difference between the two:

#8) Less versus fewer

This one drives me nuts. When people say, "There were less reports on the incident," I just cringe.

Why? Because the correct word is "fewer" as in, "There were fewer reports on the incident."

It is a sure sign of a lack of education when someone repeatedly uses the word "less" when they really mean "fewer."

"The basic rule is that you use less with mass nouns and fewer with count nouns," reports QuickAndDirtyTips.com. See that site for a more detailed explanation.

#9) Pronunciation tip for audio and video reports

If you want to make your audio or video reports sound cheap and unprofessional, pronounce the word "our" as "ARE." That's a sure sign that you have no training in journalism.

The correct pronunciation -- at least if you want to sound more like a professional -- sounds like the word "HOUR."

So if you're trying to say, for example, "What has happened to our health care?" What you really want to pronounce is, "What has happened to HOUR health care?"

You do not want to say, "What has happened to ARE health care?"

Listen to journalists on CNN, Fox News, etc., and you'll find they all pronounce "our" as "HOUR" and not "ARE."

One rule I've abandoned: "Who" vs. "Whom"

Here's a grammar rule that I've simply abandoned: The "who" vs. "whom" rule. Technically, "who" is a sentence subject and "whom" is a sentence object, but I decided to abandon this rule long ago as outdated and unnecessary.

Why? According to this rule, you can't say, "Who did you ask?" Instead, to be fully compliant with this grammatical regulation, you'd have to say, "Whom did you ask?"

I don't know about you, but it just sounds a bit too much like Ye Olde English or a linguistic contortion fetched out of some hopelessly archaic text. "Whom" is just a little too grammatically self-congratulatory to be taken seriously. Does anyone really walk up to you at work and say, with a straight face, "Whom did you tell?"

You might expect to hear that in a Shakespeare production, but not real life. Besides, is anyone really confused by the meaning of the word "who" even when it lacks the trailing "m" letter? It's not like you walk up to someone and ask, "Who did you tell," and they look at you and reply, "I'm not sure I understand the question," and then you say, "Okay, WHOM did you tell?" and then they look astonished and declare, "Oh, THAT'S what you meant!"

Follow these guidelines and you'll blog better!

The fewer mistakes you make in your writing (see, not "less mistakes"), the more professional you'll appear to your viewers and visitors. We all make some mistakes, of course, but minimizing them can help create the sense that you know what you're talking about... even if you don't.

After all, there's nothing that crushes your influence faster than trying to make an intelligent point using all the wrong words:

"A notary republic told me I should use a safety deposit box to have less problems with losing things everyday. Isn't that ironic?"

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About the author:Mike Adams (aka the "Health Ranger") is a best selling author (#1 best selling science book on Amazon.com) and a globally recognized scientific researcher in clean foods. He serves as the founding editor of NaturalNews.com and the lab science director of an internationally accredited (ISO 17025) analytical laboratory known as CWC Labs. There, he was awarded a Certificate of Excellence for achieving extremely high accuracy in the analysis of toxic elements in unknown water samples using ICP-MS instrumentation. Adams is also highly proficient in running liquid chromatography, ion chromatography and mass spectrometry time-of-flight analytical instrumentation.

Adams is a person of color whose ancestors include Africans and Native American Indians. He's also of Native American heritage, which he credits as inspiring his "Health Ranger" passion for protecting life and nature against the destruction caused by chemicals, heavy metals and other forms of pollution.

Adams is the founder and publisher of the open source science journal Natural Science Journal, the author of numerous peer-reviewed science papers published by the journal, and the author of the world's first book that published ICP-MS heavy metals analysis results for foods, dietary supplements, pet food, spices and fast food. The book is entitled Food Forensics and is published by BenBella Books.

In his laboratory research, Adams has made numerous food safety breakthroughs such as revealing rice protein products imported from Asia to be contaminated with toxic heavy metals like lead, cadmium and tungsten. Adams was the first food science researcher to document high levels of tungsten in superfoods. He also discovered over 11 ppm lead in imported mangosteen powder, and led an industry-wide voluntary agreement to limit heavy metals in rice protein products.

In addition to his lab work, Adams is also the (non-paid) executive director of the non-profit Consumer Wellness Center (CWC), an organization that redirects 100% of its donations receipts to grant programs that teach children and women how to grow their own food or vastly improve their nutrition. Through the non-profit CWC, Adams also launched Nutrition Rescue, a program that donates essential vitamins to people in need. Click here to see some of the CWC success stories.

With a background in science and software technology, Adams is the original founder of the email newsletter technology company known as Arial Software. Using his technical experience combined with his love for natural health, Adams developed and deployed the content management system currently driving NaturalNews.com. He also engineered the high-level statistical algorithms that power SCIENCE.naturalnews.com, a massive research resource featuring over 10 million scientific studies.

Adams is well known for his incredibly popular consumer activism video blowing the lid on fake blueberries used throughout the food supply. He has also exposed "strange fibers" found in Chicken McNuggets, fake academic credentials of so-called health "gurus," dangerous "detox" products imported as battery acid and sold for oral consumption, fake acai berry scams, the California raw milk raids, the vaccine research fraud revealed by industry whistleblowers and many other topics.

Adams has also helped defend the rights of home gardeners and protect the medical freedom rights of parents. Adams is widely recognized to have made a remarkable global impact on issues like GMOs, vaccines, nutrition therapies, human consciousness.

In addition to his activism, Adams is an accomplished musician who has released over a dozen popular songs covering a variety of activism topics.

Click here to read a more detailed bio on Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, at HealthRanger.com.

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