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Grammar go-getting tips for your business: Part I

By Eve

eve-powellAt Chatterbox, words are our raison d’etre. They inspire us, excite us, make us jump for joy and spring out of the bed in the morning (that and working with lovely people, of course!). And when it comes to the written and spoken word, we know we’re not alone.

Many of us ‘logophiles’ (word lovers) feel the same way. But with this passion comes a tendency for perfectionism; our ‘i’s are always dotted, our ‘t’s always crossed and, like a hawk to a field mouse, we can spot a grammatical error a mile off (cue blood-curdling scream). Unfortunately, this can really get in the way of enjoying what could otherwise be a great piece of writing!

So, to keep the grammar vultures from circling and give you quality content that complements* your brand, here are our grammar tips for businesses – read on!

1. Stationary or stationery?

Often used incorrectly; we have an easy little trick to help you know which to use. Stationary – all aboard! When a train stops at a station, it is stationary; remember the ‘a’ in each word. Stationery, on the other hand, refers to all those writing materials you find in the office cupboard. The ‘e’ also stands for ‘envelope’ – easy!

2. Practice or practise?

Now, this is one that makes many people stop and scratch their heads – would the musician ‘practice’ or ‘practise’ playing his instrument? An easy way to remember which one to use is that the ‘c’ in practice stands for something that you can see, such as a doctor’s practice.

‘Practise’ ending in ‘ise’, however, is an action. Think of the ‘s’ standing for ‘swing’; if you said someone was practising their golf swing, you’d use this spelling (you’d also duck if you heard shouts of ‘fore!’).

3. Accept or except?

These two words may sound the same but mean very different things. Just remember:

Everyone enjoyed it except Edward.

Always accept awards (and advice!).

4. Affect or effect?

‘Affect’ means to influence or change something and is more commonly used as a verb. A helpful tip is to think of the ‘a’ as standing for ‘action’. Effect is a noun and means the result or impact of a change. For example, medication affects the course of the illness, but you may well experience side effects as a result of taking it.

5. Complement and compliment

We see these two words frequently muddled up… and it won’t complement your marketing strategy! To compliment means to flatter or praise (did we mention you look  fantastic today?), as well as meaning free of charge. For example, you can read this guide for free, with our compliments. To our favourite people, it’s complimentary!

*To complement, however, is to improve or emphasize the quality of something. Your yellow hat might complement your blue shirt perfectly, while the sleek, minimalistic interior of your office complements the building’s modern architectural style!

6. Would have, could have, should have

It’s HAVE! Never ‘would of’, ‘could of’ or ‘should of’… you should HAVE known this one by now! Enough said; we’re getting upset just thinking about it.

When it comes to the first impression customers are forming of your business, you only have one chance to get it right, By getting noticed for the right reasons, with fluid, engaging content that sings off the page, you’ll soon be building a loyal audience base. And of course, if you ever need some content advice or simply want to tell us your favourite word, you know where we are – we will take it as a compliment!

Coming soon – Grammar tips: Part II. We promise it’s going to contain only the most necessary grammar advice for its own good!